Assen is a municipality and a city in the north eastern Netherlands, capital of the province of Drenthe.
, Assen, De Haar
, Ter Aard
Assen received city rights
Assen's main claim to fame is the TT Circuit Assen the motorcycle racing circuit, where on the last Saturday in June the Dutch TT is run.
In November of each year Assen becomes the centre of international attention for the world of Ballroom and Latin American dancers when the city hosts the Assen Dance Festival which includes the "Dutch Open Championships". This is an Open event for dancers from all countries and all dance bodies and a magnet for those who are or aspire to be "the best".
Assen is also the capital of the "Cycling Province" of the Netherlands, Drenthe. There are many high quality cycle paths in the city and surroundings and it is host to regular cycling events such as the Drentse fietsvierdaagse and the Jeugdtour. In 2009 the prologue and opening stage of the Vuelta a España will be in Assen.
The history of the capital
can be traced back to at least 1258, when a new location had to be found for the Maria in Campis monastery
, which was originally built near Coevorden
as a penalty for the slaughter -in 1227- of the army of the Bishop of Utrecht at the hands of Drenthe's peasants, in what has come to be known as the Battle of Ane. A battle, incidentally, in which the Bishop was killed. His successor ordered the monastery to be built as a penalty. As this monastery was located in a barren peat
area, which also happened to flood
from time to time, a better location had to be found. A better and especially dryer spot for the Cistercian monastery
was found in an area known as Witten
, where at the time only a few farms were located. Around it were village
communities like Deurze
. The latter has a history which goes back to the times from when Dolmens
were built, but is presently situated between two new districts of Assen.
The 'relocated' monastery probably was erected in the 1260s, and over the centuries Assen developed around it.
was built at what now is the Brink (i.e. grassy area which serves as a symbolic municipal centre) of Assen. At the locations of the monastery
now stands the Drents Museum
, which was built in 1882 as 'provinciehuis' (i.e. the residence of provincial government). Only the Abdijkerk
church), monastery terrain and bits and pieces of walls remind us of the religious beginnings of the city.
Coat of Arms
The Coat of Arms is directly borrowed from the seal of the monastry
. Just like the coat of arms of the province of Drenthe
- in both cases Mary
with child - but Jesus
switches knee. At the same time it tells you how the history of the city
is connected with the provincial governing board. Which has to do with the fact that around 1600 the abbeygoods were secularised. Maria in Campis
no longer existed, but the buildings did. Because of the central position of Assen and the fact that the government
from what was then called 'de Landschap Drenthe
' (the Landscape Drenthe
) was searching for a location for the government
and civil servants, Assen became seat for, and basically also capital
Assen really wasn't a municipality
yet, not even ecclesiastical sense. Even though there was an abbey
church, Assen fell ecclesiastically and administratively under Rolde
. In 1615 Assen got its own preacher
. In 1807 Assen administratively freed itself from the control of Rolde
when the village
got to establish its own municipal authorities. A municipal authority which moreover in most cases operated in the shadow of the provincial government, which always manifested itself prominent in the 'Drentse Haagje'. The municipal authority mainly got there because of matter of provincial governors like governor Petrus Hofstede
,to which the city
also thanks its uniquely located park
(in the center of the city). From that time Assen also obtained its significant nickname, 'het Herenbolwerk'.
Assen currently has about 65.000 inhabitants
, but it only got a real city
scope after World War II
. But it has been an official city
since 1809. After Coevorden
, the then village
of about sixteen hundred people became the second place in Drenthe
with city rights
, granted by King Lodewijk Napoleon, who had big plans with the village
. A plan to make it a real city
was set up at the time, but unfortunately for Assen, the Kingdom
of the Netherlands
got incorporated with France
of Napoleon Bonaparte
and the plans were abandoned.
As administrative centre, Assen attracted well-to-do inhabitants and with that also new enterprises and initiatives, these contributed to slow but steady increase of commerce, wealth and new establishments; such as a newspaper printing in 1823, a Latin school in 1825, a postal service on Groningen in 1830, a court in 1840, a first beginning for a garrison in 1852 and a railway station in 1870. Another major achievement was the Drentse Hoofdvaart (Canal)which was used for transporting peat and other goods. (On either side of the canal, stately homes were built by the initiators) and the opening of the Noord-Willemskanaal (North-Willems canal) in 1861. The most important monuments of the city are from the nineteenth century.
Around the 1900 Assen began to play a more prominent industrial role. It was originally a centre of civil
servants, but the establishment of a slaughter house, dairy
factory and iron
foundry created more diverse expansion opportunities and encouraged growth. Around 1930 Assen became a central point for health care in the province, by establishing various psychiatric hospitals and healthcare centres.
After WWII, Assen didn't have more than 20,000 inhabitants. The Assen TT
made the city
more widely known, but it wasn't until the 1950s with the development of an industrial core did Assen begin to grow much more quickly. The 'Nederlands Aardolie Maatschappij' (Dutch Oil Company) established itself in the city
and with that, a trend was set. Now, Assen isn't only known because of its TT, Bartje
en the 'Drentse Rijwielvierdaagse'. It also is the fastest growing city in the northern part of the Netherlands, has ample employment
opportunities, particularly in the service industry. An unprecedented growth of the city in terms of houses & inhabitants is taking place with environmental issues becoming more urgent.
The city has progressively become more cycle friendly since the 1960s.
Notable people born in Assen
The TT Circuit Assen
is on of the most famous motorcycle racing circuits
in the world and is the only circuit that has been in the MotoGP
calendar since it's beginnings in 1949. It is also regarded as the Cathedral of Motorcycle Racing