Amersfoort has received international praise with the award as European City of the Year by The Academy of Urbanism in London. This honor is given to the city for its exceptional quality of life, progressive approach to urban planning and the careful harmony between renewal and preservation of its rich character and heritage. Alderman Rutger Dijksterhuis has presented the statement on behalf of Amersfoort Urbanism Award received, a tangible confirmation of the urban qualities that the jury speaks so highly of.
The jury's assessment took place during an intensive visit to the city in September, during which they got a deep impression of the urban cohesion, cycling through neighborhoods such as the historic city center, Kattenbroek, the Wagenwerkplaats and Vathorst. The commitment to social cohesion, sustainability and governance quality was visible in every street and project they visited.
Mayor Lucas Bolsius underlines that the price is a token of appreciation for generations of Amersfoorters who have shaped the city. The dynamism of the city, which has steadily grown and modernized without losing its soul, testifies to a community that cherishes shared values and actively contributes to the urban fabric.
Alderman Dijksterhuis emphasizes the unique balance between the material – the 'stones' – and the human aspect – the 'people' – that the jury so admired. The fact that Amersfoort now joins previous winners such as Berlin and Copenhagen is a testament to its international allure and the pride that Amersfoort residents should feel.
With this Erkenning Amersfoort confirms its status as an example of urban development that both respects the present and paves a way to the future. All this forms a story of a city that knows how to enchant and captivate not only its residents, but also its visitors.
A tourist visiting Amersfoort can look forward to a range of sights that reflect the city's rich history and vibrant culture. A must-see is the historic city center with its medieval street pattern, where St. George's Church and the Koppelpoort, a beautifully preserved medieval city gate, stand out as iconic monuments.
The city is also home to the Wall Houses, which were built on the foundations of the old city wall and now form a unique living environment. The Mondriaan House, the birthplace of the famous painter Piet Mondriaan, is another attraction that art lovers should not miss.
For a glimpse into modern architecture, the Kattenbroek district, designed by Dutch architect Ashok Bhalotra, is a true voyage of discovery. The architecture here is playful, colorful and varied, offering a surprising contrast to the city's historic elements.
The Wagenwerkplaats and Vathorst are more recent developments in the city that bear witness to the progressive urban planning for which Amersfoort is known. The new Vathorst district stands out for its integrated waterways and modern residential concepts, while the Wagenwerkplaats is a former industrial estate that has been transformed into a dynamic cultural and creative hub.
The nickname “Keientrekkers” for the residents of Amersfoort has its origins in a famous event from 1661. According to tradition, Jonkheer Everard Meyster wanted to make a bet with friends that he could persuade the residents of Amersfoort to pick up a large boulder that had fallen on the heath near Soesterberg was located, to get to the city. This was a boulder brought to the region by glaciers during the last ice age.
The residents of Amersfoort took up the challenge, possibly encouraged by the promise of a reward in the form of a free dish of beer and pretzels. They pulled the boulder into the city with all their might. Legend has it that once the boulder was in town, the squire only rewarded those who had actually pulled, and not the many spectators who had come just for the entertainment and reward.
This event was seen by the Amersfoort area as an act of folly and as a sign of the stupidity of the inhabitants, who allowed themselves to undertake such a trivial task. The boulder, known as the “Amersfoortse Kei”, eventually became a monument in the city and symbolizes this legend. The story has given the people of Amersfoort the nickname “Keientrekkers”, which they carry to this day. This story is part of the city's rich history and folklore and contributes to its local identity.
Photo cover by Academy of Urbanism.