The municipality consists of the town of Weeze and the village of Wemb and has approximately 10,500 inhabitants. It is situated in the county of Kleve, embedded in the north-western part of the Lower Rhine Region, and lies between Goch to the north and Kevelaer to the south. The Netherlands lie directly to the west.
72% Roman Catholic 17% Protestant 11% Other religious denominations
The Municipality encompasses Weeze, Wemb, the area of the former airbase Laarbruch (now Airport Weeze) and 16 farmsteads.
Farming 45,330 km², Woodland 19,040 km², rest 15,080 km²
Commercial and employment structure:
67 craftsman’s guilds, 14 industrial firms, 161 trading businesses, 2 banks, 27 restaurants and pubs, 154 other businesses (insurance agents etc. )
Protected buildings and natural sights of interest:
The Municipality of Weeze was granted the right to carry a coat of arms by the Prussian Ministry of State on April 28th, 1928.
The coat of arms of Weeze bears the form of the patron of the town and the patron saint of the Catholic church St. Cyriakus with book and palm in the left half with a blue background. The top left half depicts a black dragon’s head on a golden background, the bottom right half with a white background bears a green twig with five roses (Geldrian roses/medlar blooms) and five leaves. The twig and the leaves are shown green and the roses red.
The coat of arms can be seen on the Weeze juror’s (court’s) crest from 1460. The roses depict the affiliation to the former dukedom of Geldern.
Individual artefacts from the earliest settlement of the area date back to the early/middle Stone Age. In the following periods a burial site with 1,000 hills in the area of Kalbeck, settlement remains on the Hees, remnants of the Roman road between Cologne and Nijmegen in the Netherlands and a significant discovery of Roman silver coins have all been found on municipal soil. Franconian burial sites from around 700 and 800 AD have also been unearthed in the close vicinity of the town centre.
Example's of Weeze's history are the restored Catholic church of St. Cyriakus, excavations from the Stone and Bronze Ages, Wissen Castle complete with moat, Kalbeck Castle and the ruins of Hertefeld Castle.
An area in and around today’s Weeze was first-mentioned in a document from King Lothar II in 855 a.d. when the King presented Count Ansfried with a piece of estate to the east of the River Niers, known as Villa Geizefurt and situated mainly in the farmstead area of Kalbeck.
The area was populated before the name Weeze was officially mentioned for the first time in a document in 1226 when the Earl to Alpen, Henry III, presented the Zisterzienserkloster Kamp with an estate in the farmstead of Vornick.
The municipal development suffered a major setback during the Second World War when eighty percent of the town was destroyed. Through commitment, hard work and craft skills the citizens of Weeze managed to rebuild the town. Destroyed houses and buildings were rebuilt in the fifties and sixties. The town development was continuously pursued and culminated in the redevelopment of the town centre. Today, the town centre is the forum for activities such as the Kirmes (carnival fair), Christmas markets, street parties and more.
Weeze became well-known through its energetic shoe-makers, whose shoes were distributed to Krefeld and Wuppertal, later through carpentry and woodworking, and through the Royal Air Force base at Laarbruch, which was located in the heart of the Municipality between 1954 and 1999. Today it is the newly opened regional airport “Airport Weeze”, located on the former Royal Air Force airbase at Laarbruch, which is helping Weeze to become a household name throughout Europe.
The departure of almost 40% of the local population with the withdrawal of British personnel and the closure of nearby RAF Laarbruch in 1999 left Weeze’s politicians and inhabitants with a major challenge. Industrial estates have been redesigned and extended so that companies have been able to expand and new companies have, as a result, chosen Weeze as a home base. The population has grown by almost 10% since the departure of RAF personnel and their families. Local politicians are targeting a future population of 12,000.
With the positive economic perspective provided by Airport Weeze, which already employs in the region of 350 locals, the Municipality of Weeze is to undergo many changes in its infrastructure. Roads to and from the airport will have to be extended and improved to meet future demand. Schools and kindergartens will also have to grow in capacity for the targeted increase in population.
The Municipality can be reached by road and rail: via Autobahn 57, via trunk road B 9 or by rail on the Cologne-Kleve link. Due to this fact and the easy accessibility from the Rhine-Ruhr Region, from Dusseldorf and Krefeld, as well as from the Netherlands, Weeze is an attractive site for commercial businesses. With recent state approval for the development of the former RAF Laarbruch airbase into a regional civilian airport with a logistical and industrial base, a projected 2,000 jobs will be created by the year 2010.
The airbase was rejuvenated by a new role as a civilian regional airport Airport Weeze which saw commercial operations commence in May 2003. Situated near the city of Cleves, the new airport has been intended to enable low-cost airlines to operate efficiently. Approximately 11 million travellers, mostly Dutch and German, use the airport annually. The two-storey terminal building measures approximately 140 x 70 m and was developed from a steel building which dated back to 1933. The large-scale glass front, granite floor and a modern interior provide for an up-to-date appearance. Parking spaces for 1000 vehicles were built in front of the terminal.
On 3 January 2006, an administrative court suspended the airport's operating licence in response to complaints over noise. Flight operations however continue while the issue is debated in the courts.
The surrounding countryside draws tourists and nature lovers. Its setting on the River Niers in the northern part of the Lower Rhine Region combined with the close proximity to the Netherlands make Weeze an easily accessible town. On its way to the Meuse River the Niers snakes past castles and old farmhouses. Natural and historical sights of interest are dotted throughout the municipality, making the countryside setting attractive and interesting.
A highlight of the castle is its neo Gothic chapel which was built in 1876 and designed by the Cologne architect Vincenz Statz. An authentic servants’ settlement, the Boye, also belongs to the castle complex, where extensive buildings stemming from the past two centuries are still visible.
The Herrensitz-Route, a border-crossing cycling route, guides cyclists to these and many other highlights and attractions of the region, such as Kleve, home of Anne of Cleves; Kevelaer, famous for its pilgrimages, Moyland Castle between Kalkar and Bedburg-Hau, or Gennep in the Netherlands where the Meuse and Niers rivers converge. The Weeze animal park with its educational trail and children’s zoo is a special attraction for families. The park is located on the edge of the town next to the ruins of Hertefeld Castle.