Zutphen streets

ZUTPHEN is a town in the province of GELDERLAND in the Netherlands  It lies some 30km northeast of ARNHEM on the eastern bank of the IJSSEL. at the point where it is joined by the BERKEL.

The name ZUTPHEN , 1st mentioned in the 11th century, appears to mean ZUID –VEEN or in English SOUTH –FEN. Zutphen is also twinned with the English town of Shrewsbury, in the Midlands County of SHROPSHIRE.

Zutphen artistic

It is an historic city, and has existed since Roman times, and received its city rights in 1190, making it one of the oldest “medieval cities” in the Netherlands.  The city was voted as having the best city-centre of the Netherlands in the category of small cities in 2006.  It has an untouched historic city-centre that gives you the feeling of travelling 100s of years back in time.  It is also a “car-free” city.


ZUTPHEN is located in a river valley at the River IJSSEL, a side branch of the Rhine known as NEDERRIJN.  The city lies at the border of the hilly forested VELUWE region and the more flat and agriculture ACHTERHOEK.  The language spoken is Dutch and nearly everyone speaks English and German is widely understood.

Zutphen tower

Inside the city everything is within walking distance.  The railway station is located 200m away from the edge of the old city-centre.  Walking from one side of the city-centre to the other side takes about 20 -30 minutes.  In order to see the city, it is best to cycle. ——— The Dutch Tourist Promotion slogan, TORENSTAD, means TOWER – CITY, which refers to the large number of towers.  The largest is the WALBURGKERK located at the square where the city originated.  It is one of the largest Churches in the country.  Guided tours are available organised by the VVV located opposite the railway station.  These tours will also allow you to visit the visit the medieval “chained library” ————-LIBRIJE ——- here books have been kept secure since the 1600s by chaining them to the desks.


ZUTPHEN is also known as an “alternative city”.  There are multiple “alternative grocery stores”, which offer a variety of “organic food”.  The most important ones are the GIMSEL, located in the LANGEHOFSTRAAT, half away between the WIJNHUISTOREN and the new city hall on the western side of the street, and the COEHOOM, located in the NIEUWSTAD quarter, between the Catholic St. John’s Church (SINT JANSKERK) and the Synagogue.


About 300AD, a Germanic settlement was the 1st permanent town on a complex of low river dunes.  Whereas many such settlements were abandoned in the early Middle Ages, ZUTPHEN on the strategic confluence of IJSSEL & BERKEL stayed, and became a local centre of governance under a Count.  The Normans raided and ravaged it in 882.  Afterwards, a circular fortress was built to protect the “budding” town against Viking attacks.

Chocoladefestival Zutphen

In the 11th century ZUTPHEN was a Royal residence for a number of years :  a PFALZ was built, together with a large CHAPTER CHURCH, the predecessor of the present ST. WALBURGIS.  The Counts of ZUTPHEN acquired a lot of power until the line of Counts became extinct in the 12th century The settlement received town rights between 1191 & 1196.  This allowed it to self-govern and have a judicial court.  Thus, ZUTPHEN became the “mother-town” of several other towns.  It also became part of the HANSEATIC LEAGUE, a group of towns with great wealth and this league was the economic centre in that part of Europe.

De kolensteeg in Zutphen op een zonnige dag.

The largest and oldest Church is ST. WALBURGIS, which originally dates back to the 11th century.  The present Gothic building contains monuments of the former Counts of Zutphen, a 14th century candelabrum, an elaborate copper font (1527) and a monument to the VAN HEECKEREN family (1700).  The Chapter House of the LIBRIJE contains a pre-Reformation library which includes some valuable manuscripts and INCUNABULA.  It is considered one of the only 5 surviving Chained Libraries in Europe. (the other 4 being in England and Italy).



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