Delft (Dutch pronunciation: [dɛlft] (listen)) is a city and municipality in the province of South Holland, Netherlands. It is located between Rotterdam, to the southeast, and The Hague, to the northwest. Together with them, it is part of both Rotterdam–The Hague metropolitan area and the Randstad.
Delft is a popular tourist destination in the Netherlands, famous for its historical connections with the reigning House of Orange-Nassau, for its blue pottery, for being home to the painter Jan Vermeer, and for hosting Delft University of Technology (TU Delft). Historically, Delft played a highly influential role in the Dutch Golden Age. In terms of science and technology, thanks to the pioneering contributions of Antonie van Leeuwenhoek and Martinus Beijerinck, Delft can be considered to be the birthplace of microbiology.
The city of Delft came into being beside a canal, the 'Delf', which comes from the word delven, meaning to delve or dig, and this led to the name Delft. At the elevated place where this 'Delf' crossed the creek wall of the silted up river Gantel, a Count established his manor, probably around 1075. Partly because of this, Delft became an important market town, the evidence for which can be seen in the size of its central market square.
Having been a rural village in the early Middle Ages, Delft developed into a city, and on 15 April 1246, Count Willem II granted Delft its city charter. Trade and industry flourished. In 1389 the Delfshavensche Schie canal was dug through to the river Maas, where the port of Delfshaven was built, connecting Delft to the sea.
Until the 17th century, Delft was one of the major cities of the then county (and later province) of Holland. In 1400, for example, the city had 6,500 inhabitants, making it the third largest city after Dordrecht (8,000) and Haarlem (7,000). In 1560, Amsterdam, with 28,000 inhabitants, had become the largest city, followed by Delft, Leiden and Haarlem, which each had around 14,000 inhabitants.
In 1536, a large part of the city was destroyed by the great fire of Delft.
The town's association with the House of Orange started when William of Orange (Willem van Oranje), nicknamed William the Silent (Willem de Zwijger), took up residence in 1572 in the former Saint-Agatha convent (subsequently called the Prinsenhof). At the time he was the leader of growing national Dutch resistance against Spanish occupation, known as the Eighty Years' War. By then Delft was one of the leading cities of Holland and it was equipped with the necessary city walls to serve as a headquarters. In October 1573, an attack by Spanish forces was repelled in the Battle of Delft.
When William was shot dead on 10 July 1584 by Balthazar Gerards in the hall of the Prinsenhof (now the Prinsenhof Museum), the family's traditional burial place in Breda was still in the hands of the Spanish. Therefore, he was buried in the Delft Nieuwe Kerk (New Church), starting a tradition for the House of Orange that has continued to the present day.
Around this time, Delft also occupied a prominent position in the field of printing.
A number of Italian glazed earthenware makers settled in the city and introduced a new style. The tapestry industry also flourished when famous manufacturer François Spierincx moved to the city. In the 17th century, Delft experienced a new heyday, thanks to the presence of an office of the Dutch East India Company (VOC) (opened in 1602) and the manufacture of Delft Blue china.
A number of notable artists based themselves in the city, including Leonard Bramer, Carel Fabritius, Pieter de Hoogh, Gerard Houckgeest, Emanuel de Witte, Jan Steen, and Johannes Vermeer. Reinier de Graaf and Antonie van Leeuwenhoek received international attention for their scientific research.
The Delft Explosion, also known in history as the Delft Thunderclap, occurred on 12 October 1654gunpowder store exploded, destroying much of the city. Over a hundred people were killed and thousands were injured.when a
About 30 tonnes (29.5 long tons; 33.1 short tons) of gunpowder were stored in barrels in a magazine in a former Clarist convent in the Doelenkwartier district, where the Paardenmarkt is now located. Cornelis Soetens, the keeper of the magazine, opened the store to check a sample of the powder and a huge explosion followed. Luckily, many citizens were away, visiting a market in Schiedam or a fair in The Hague.
Today, the explosion is primarily remembered for killing Rembrandt's most promising pupil, Carel Fabritius, and destroying almost all of his works.
Delft artist Egbert van der Poel painted several pictures of Delft showing the devastation.
The gunpowder store was subsequently re-housed, a 'cannonball's distance away', outside the city, in a new building designed by architect Pieter Post.
The city centre retains a large number of monumental buildings, while in many streets there are canals of which the banks are connected by typical bridges, altogether making this city a notable tourist destination.
Historical buildings and other sights of interest include:
Delft City Hall
Eastern Gate (Oostpoort)
The Old Church tower
Delft is well known for the Delft pottery ceramic products which were styled on the imported Chinese porcelain of the 17th century. The city had an early start in this area since it was a home port of the Dutch East India Company. It can still be seen at the pottery factories De Koninklijke Porceleyne Fles (or Royal Delft) and De Delftse Pauw, while new ceramics and ceramic art can be found at the Gallery Terra Delft.
The painter Johannes Vermeer (1632–1675) was born in Delft. Vermeer used Delft streets and home interiors as the subject or background in his paintings. Several other famous painters lived and worked in Delft at that time, such as Pieter de Hoogh, Carel Fabritius, Nicolaes Maes, Gerard Houckgeest and Hendrick Cornelisz. van Vliet. They were all members of the Delft School. The Delft School is known for its images of domestic life and views of households, church interiors, courtyards, squares and the streets of Delft. The painters also produced pictures showing historic events, flowers, portraits for patrons and the court as well as decorative pieces of art.
Delft supports creative arts companies. From 2001 the Bacinol, a building that had been disused since 1951, began to house small companies in the creative arts sector. However, demolition of the building started in December 2009, making way for the construction of the new railway tunnel in Delft. The occupants of the building, as well as the name 'Bacinol', moved to another building in the city. The name Bacinol relates to Dutch penicillin research during WWII.
Delft University of Technology (TU Delft) is one of four universities of technology in the Netherlands. It was founded as an academy for civil engineering in 1842 by King William II. Today well over 21,000 students are enrolled.
The UNESCO-IHE Institute for Water Education, providing postgraduate education for people from developing countries, draws on the strong tradition in water management and hydraulic engineering of the Delft university.
In the local economic field essential elements are:
East of Delft lies a relatively large nature and recreation area called the "Delftse Hout" ("Delft Wood").Through the forest lie bike, horse-riding and footpaths. It also includes a vast lake (suitable for swimming and windsurfing), narrow beaches, a restaurant, and community gardens, plus camping ground and other recreational and sports facilities. (There is also a facility for renting bikes from the station.)
Inside the city, apart from a central park, there are several smaller town parks, including "Nieuwe Plantage", "Agnetapark", "Kalverbos". There is also the Botanical Garden of the TU and an arboretum in Delftse Hout.
Delft was the birthplace of:
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