Last updated

Sassenstraat 1-15, Zwolle.jpg
Diezerstraat - Grote Markt, Zwolle - BB - 1.jpg
Museum de Fundatie Panorama.png
Luttekestraat 12-16, Zwolle - BB.jpg
City Centre, 8011 Zwolle, Netherlands - panoramio (12).jpg
Images, from top down, left to right: Sassenstraat,
Grote Markt, Museum de Fundatie, Luttekestraat,
and the Binnenstad
Flag of Zwolle.svg
Zwolle wapen HRvA.svg
Coat of arms
Map - NL - Municipality code 0193 (2009).svg
Location in Overijssel
Coordinates: 52°31′N6°6′E / 52.517°N 6.100°E / 52.517; 6.100 Coordinates: 52°31′N6°6′E / 52.517°N 6.100°E / 52.517; 6.100
Country Netherlands
Province Overijssel
  Body Municipal council
   Mayor Peter Snijders (VVD)
  Municipality119.36 km2 (46.09 sq mi)
  Land111.10 km2 (42.90 sq mi)
  Water8.26 km2 (3.19 sq mi)
4 m (13 ft)
 (Municipality, January 2019; Urban and Metro, May 2014) [4] [5]
  Density1,148/km2 (2,970/sq mi)
Demonym(s) Zwollenaar
Time zone UTC+1 (CET)
  Summer (DST) UTC+2 (CEST)
Area code 038

Zwolle (Dutch:  [ˈzʋɔlə] ( Loudspeaker.svg listen )) is a city and municipality in the Northeastern Netherlands. It is the capital of the province of Overijssel. Zwolle is located on the border with Gelderland, which follows the river IJssel, not far from Flevoland to the northwest and Drenthe to the northeast. With a population of 127,497 as of 2019, it is the second-largest municipality in Overijssel after Enschede.



Historical population
YearPop.±% p.a.
Source: Lourens & Lucassen 1997, pp. 83–84

Archaeological findings indicate that the area surrounding Zwolle has been inhabited for a long time. A woodhenge that was found in the Zwolle-Zuid suburb in 1993 was dated to the Bronze Age period. [6] [7] During the Roman era, the area was inhabited by Salian Franks.

The modern city was founded around 800 CE by Frisian merchants and troops of Charlemagne. [8] The name Zwolle is derived from the word Suolle, which means "hill" (cf. the English cognate verb "to swell"). This refers to an incline in the landscape between the four rivers surrounding the city, IJssel, Vecht, Aa and Zwarte Water. The hill was the only piece of land that would remain dry during the frequent floodings of the rivers. Zwolle was established on that incline.

A document mentions the existence of a parish church dedicated to St Michael. That church, the Grote of Sint Michaëlskerk (St. Michael's church), was renovated in the first half of the 15th century and exists to this day. The church contains a richly carved pulpit, the work of Adam Straes van Weilborch (about 1620), some good carving and an exquisite organ (1721).

On 31 August, 1230, the bishop of Utrecht granted Zwolle city rights. Zwolle became a member of the Hanseatic league in 1294, and in 1361 joined the war between the Hanseatic League and Valdemar IV of Denmark. In the 1370 Treaty of Stralsund that ended the war, Zwolle was awarded a vitte, a trade colony, in Scania, then part of Denmark. Zwolle's golden age came in the 15th century. Between 1402 and 1450, the city's Gross Regional Product multiplied by about six. [9]

In July 1324 and October 1361, regional noblemen set fire to Zwolle. In the 1324 fire, only nine buildings escaped the flames. [10]

Map of Zwolle by Joan Blaeu in Blaeu's "Toonneel der Steden", 1652 Blaeu 1652 - Zwolle.jpg
Map of Zwolle by Joan Blaeu in Blaeu's "Toonneel der Steden", 1652

Zwolle was also, with Deventer, one of the centers of the Brethren of the Common Life, a monastic movement. 5 km (3 mi) from Zwolle, on a slight eminence called the Agnietenberg, (hill of St Agnes), once stood the Augustinian convent in which Thomas à Kempis spent the greatest part of his life and died (in 1471). [11]

At least as early as 1911, Zwolle had a considerable trade by river, a large fish market, and the most important cattle market in the Netherlands after Rotterdam. The more important industries comprised cotton manufactures, iron works, boat-building, dyeing and bleaching, tanning, rope-making, and salt-making. [11]

De Librije Front of De Librije.jpg
De Librije

In World War II, Zwolle was single-handedly liberated from the Germans by French Canadian soldier Léo Major. [12] He was made an honorary citizen of Zwolle in 2005 and a street is named for him.

In 2004, Zwolle's De Librije restaurant was honored with 3 stars by Michelin Guide; as of 2018, it is one of only three restaurants so honored in the entire country.


Citizens of Zwolle are colloquially known as Blauwvingers (Bluefingers). This dates back to 1682, when the St Michael's church tower collapsed. The authorities were strapped for cash and saw no option but to sell the church bells to neighbouring city Kampen. To make sure that Kampen would not make too much profit from the deal, the local authorities asked a high price for the church bells. Kampen accepted, yet after the arrival of the bells it became clear, they were too damaged to be played. In revenge, Kampen paid in copper coins of four duiten (the equivalent of two-and-a-half cents). Zwolle distrusted Kampen and wanted to be sure they truly paid the entire price. After the rigorous counting of this vast amount of money, their fingers had turned blue from the counting of money. [13] [14]


Dutch Topographic map of the city of Zwolle, September 2014 Zwolle-plaats-OpenTopo.jpg
Dutch Topographic map of the city of Zwolle, September 2014

Besides the Grote of Sint Michaëlskerk (St. Michael's church), the latter which houses a majestic Baroque organ built by Arp Schnitger, there are several other historic monuments in Zwolle. The Roman Catholic Onze Lieve Vrouwe ten Hemelopneming-basilica (Our Lady of the Assumption) dates back to 1399. The church tower, called Peperbus (pepperbox), is one of the tallest and most famous church towers in the Netherlands. The modernized town hall was originally built in 1448. [11]

Mention should also be made of the Sassenpoort (one of the old city gates), the city walls, the Mosterdmakerstoren (mustard makers' tower)(the complex where local mustard used to be made), a guild-house (1571), the former provincial government offices, a Dominican monastery, and on the Melkmarkt, two museums; the Stedelijk Museum Zwolle of antiquities and natural history, and the Vrouwenhuis. Museum de Fundatie, the fine art museum of the province of Overijssel, is hosted in the former Justice Hall on Blijmarkt Square.

In the western part of the city, west of the railway station, there is a quarter of Art Nouveau buildings, concentrated mostly on Koningin Wilhelminastraat, Prinses Julianastraat, and Prins Hendrikstraat. These three-store living houses were built in 1900s by various Dutch architects. Eleven of the buildings are protected by the Dutch government (rijksmonumenten).

The Broerenkerk church was part of the Dominican monastery founded in 1465. The monastery was closed in 1580 and the monks were expelled. From 1640 until 1982 the church was used for Protestant services. After a restoration in 1983–1988 it has been used for cultural events and it is now a bookstore. [15] [16]

Notable residents

See also People from Zwolle
Arts, culture, entertainment and the media

Educational institutions

Zwolle is home to several universities and colleges:


Zwolle railway station with ICMm train 4011 en 4012 in Zwolle.JPG
Zwolle railway station with ICMm train

Road transport

Zwolle is a hub in the national highway network, and gateway to northern Netherlands. This is reflected in the high traffic volumes in and around the city. The A28 serves Zwolle with 4 exits, and runs from Utrecht to Groningen. It is being widened to 8 lanes across the IJssel River and 6 lanes from Zwolle to Meppel in 2010 and 2011. The motorway initially opened between 1964 and 1970. [22] Another motorway, the A50, interchanges with A28 just west of the city, offering a route for southbound traffic to Apeldoorn and Eindhoven.

The N35 highway starts in Zwolle, where it forms the eastern section of the ring road of Zwolle, it runs as a non-motorway to Almelo and continues to Enschede as A35 motorway. The ringroad is mainly a 4-lane road, with numerous traffic lights. It forms a full ring, and also exists out of the N337 highway that runs to Deventer. Other sections of the ring road are not numbered. Parts of the ring road were widened to six lanes in 2010. Other numbered highways running from Zwolle are N331 to Hasselt, N758 to Nieuwleusen, N340 to Ommen and N764 to Kampen.


Due to nearby rivers, there are several major bridges in and around Zwolle. The most important bridge is the IJssel Bridge where the A28 motorway runs across. It was completed in 1970 and carries over 125.000 vehicles per day. Adjacent to this bridge is the older IJssel Bridge, which opened in 1930 and was destroyed twice during World War II. A third IJssel Bridge is the railway bridge (called Hanze boog) which carries the railway line from Zwolle to Amersfoort, and from 2012, to Lelystad. There are several bridges across the Zwarte Water River, including two 4-lane bridges, a 2-lane bridge, and a bus/bicycle bridge. There is also a bridge across the Vecht, which carries A28 motorway. Another local bridge is adjacent to this bridge. A third bridge carries rail traffic to Leeuwarden and Groningen. Numerous local bridges exist around the historic city center.

Rail transport

The first train in Zwolle arrived on 6 June 1864. Today the city has rail connections in eight directions (viz. Kampen, Leeuwarden, Groningen, Emmen, Enschede, Arnhem/Nijmegen, Lelystad/Amsterdam, and Amersfoort).

The rail connection with Amsterdam via Lelystad – the Hanzelijn – is operational since December 2012.

The second station, Zwolle Stadshagen, was opened on 15 December 2019.

Water transport

Zwolle is located on or near three rivers (Zwarte Water, Vecht, and IJssel), several canals (the now disused Willemsvaart, Nieuwe Vecht and Overijssels Kanaal and the modern Zwolle-IJssel Kanaal). There are some water-related industries in Zwolle, mainly in the Voorst industrial area.

International relations

Twin towns—sister cities

Zwolle is currently twinned with:

In the past, Zwolle had partnerships with[ citation needed ]:

Related Research Articles

Lelystad City and Municipality in Flevoland, Netherlands

Lelystad is a municipality and a city in the centre of the Netherlands, and it is the capital of the province of Flevoland. The city, built on reclaimed land, was founded in 1967 and was named after Cornelis Lely, who engineered the Afsluitdijk, making the reclamation possible. Lelystad is approximately 3 metres below sea level.

Overijssel Province of the Netherlands

Overijssel is a province of the Netherlands located in the eastern part of the country. The province's name translates to "across the IJssel", from the perspective of the Episcopal principality of Utrecht by which it was held until 1528. The capital city of Overijssel is Zwolle and the largest city is Enschede. The province had a population of 1,162,215 as of November 2019.


The IJssel is a Dutch distributary of the river Rhine that flows northward and ultimately discharges into the IJsselmeer, a North Sea natural harbour. It more immediately flows into the east-south channel around the Flevopolder, Flevoland which is kept at 3 metres below sea level. This body of water is then pumped up into the IJsselmeer.

Deventer City and municipality in Overijssel, Netherlands

Deventer is a city and municipality in the Salland historical region of the province of Overijssel, Netherlands. In 2020, Deventer had a population of 100,913. The city is largely situated on the east bank of the river IJssel, but also has a small part of its territory on the west bank. In 2005 the municipality of Bathmen was merged with Deventer as part of a national effort to reduce bureaucracy in the country.

Enschede City and Municipality in Overijssel, Netherlands

Enschede is a municipality and city in the eastern Netherlands in the province of Overijssel and in the Twente region. The eastern parts of the urban area reaches the border with Germany. The municipality of Enschede consisted of the city of Enschede until 1935, when the rural municipality of Lonneker, which surrounded the city, was annexed after the rapid industrial expansion of Enschede which began in the 1860s and involved the building of railways and the digging of the Twentekanaal. The proposal for consolidation began in 1872, per the Tubantia newspaper article on 22 Jun 1872 that referenced a committee of 5 to oversee a study. They were: J. Mosman, H. Fikkert, H. G. Blijdenstein J. Bz., C. C. Schleucker, and G. J. van Heek.

Hengelo Municipality in Overijssel, Netherlands

Hengelo is a city in the eastern part of the Netherlands, in the province of Overijssel. The city lies along the motorways A1/E30 and A35 and it has a station for the international Amsterdam – Hannover – Berlin service.

Kampen, Overijssel City and municipality in Overijssel, Netherlands

Kampen is a city and municipality in the province of Overijssel, Netherlands. A member of the former Hanseatic League, it is located at the lower reaches of the river IJssel.

Olst-Wijhe Municipality in Overijssel, Netherlands

Olst-Wijhe is a municipality in the province of Overijssel, eastern Netherlands. It borders the Overijssel municipalities of Zwolle to the north, Raalte to the north and east and Deventer to the south; and the Gelderland municipalities of Voorst, Epe and Heerde to the west.

Ommen Municipality in Overijssel, Netherlands

Ommen is a municipality and a Hanseatic city in the eastern Netherlands. It is located in the Vecht valley of the Salland region in Overijssel. Historical records first name Ommen in the early 12th century and it was officially founded as a city in 1248. The municipality had a population of 17,813 in 2019 and covers an area of 182.01 km2 (70.27 sq mi).

Zwartewaterland Municipality in Overijssel, Netherlands

Zwartewaterland is a municipality in the province Overijssel in the eastern Netherlands.

Vechte River in Germany and the Netherlands

The Vechte (in German and in Low Saxon or Vecht, often called Overijsselse Vecht in the Netherlands to avoid confusion with its Utrecht counterpart, is a river in Germany and the Netherlands. Its total length is 182 km, of which 107 km are on German soil.

Zwarte Water

The Zwarte Water is a river in the Dutch province of Overijssel. It is formed just south of the city of Zwolle when two streams, the Soestwetering and the Nieuwe Wetering, merge. The Zwarte Water then flows north through Zwolle, bends to the northeast, takes in the Vecht near Hasselt and flows past the town of Zwartsluis to discharge itself in the Zwarte Meer near Genemuiden.

Bouches-de-l'Yssel was a department of the First French Empire in the present-day Netherlands. It was formed in 1810, when the Kingdom of Holland was annexed by France. Its territory corresponded with the present-day Dutch province of Overijssel. Its capital was Zwolle.


Salland is a historical dominion in the west and north of the present Dutch province of Overijssel. Nowadays Salland is usually used to indicate a region corresponding to the part of the former dominion more or less to the west of Twente.

Lelystad–Zwolle railway

The Lelystad–Zwolle railway, also known as the Hanzelijn, is a Dutch railway line, finished in 2012. It connects Lelystad, capital of the province of Flevoland, with Zwolle, capital of the neighbouring province of Overijssel, and provides a direct rail link between Flevoland and the north-east of the Netherlands.

Nieuwleusen Dorp in Overijssel, Netherlands

Nieuwleusen is a town in the Dutch province of Overijssel with 9.215 inhabitants as of 1 January 2007. At the 2001 municipal reform, most of the former municipality of Nieuwleusen was incorporated into the municipality of Dalfsen. Part, including the Lichtmis area, was added to the municipality of Zwolle.

Zwolle railway station

Zwolle is the main railway station of Zwolle in Overijssel, Netherlands. The station opened on 6 June 1864 and is on the Utrecht–Kampen railway, also known as the Centraalspoorweg, the Zwolle–Almelo railway, the Arnhem–Leeuwarden railway, the Zwolle–Stadskanaal railway and the Lelystad–Zwolle railway, also known as the Hanzelijn.

Kampen Zuid railway station

Kampen Zuid is a railway station in the Netherlands, located on the Lelystad–Zwolle railway, also known as the Hanzelijn. The station is located in the south of Kampen, Overijssel.


  1. "Portefeuille burgemeester Peter Snijders" [Tasks of mayor Peter Snijders] (in Dutch). Gemeente Zwolle. Retrieved 6 October 2019.
  2. "Kerncijfers wijken en buurten 2020" [Key figures for neighbourhoods 2020]. StatLine (in Dutch). CBS. 24 July 2020. Retrieved 19 September 2020.
  3. "Postcodetool for 8011PK". Actueel Hoogtebestand Nederland (in Dutch). Het Waterschapshuis. Retrieved 25 March 2014.
  4. "Bevolkingsontwikkeling; regio per maand" [Population growth; regions per month]. CBS Statline (in Dutch). CBS. 1 January 2019. Retrieved 1 January 2019.
  5. "Bevolkingsontwikkeling; Regionale kerncijfers Nederland" [Regional core figures Netherlands]. CBS Statline (in Dutch). CBS. 1 January 2020. Retrieved 8 March 2021.
  6. Theo Holleman (1996), Een verleden op de schop, University Press, Amsterdam, ISBN   90-5356-189-7
  7. Hove, ten J. (2005). Geschiedenis van Zwolle Zwolle: Waanders. ISBN   90-400-9050-5
  8. F.C. Berkenvelder (1980). "Het begin". Zwolle 750 jaar stad (in Dutch). Waanders. Archived from the original on 16 August 2006. Retrieved 17 March 2007.
  9. F.C. Berkenvelder (1980). "De handel en de Hanze". Zwolle 750 jaar stad (in Dutch). Waanders . Retrieved 17 March 2007. De stedelijke geldmiddelen, het nationaal inkomen zouden wij nu zeggen, die in 1402 nog 6.000 gulden bedroegen waren in 1450 bijna verzesvoudigd tot 34.000 gulden. (Translated: The city's financial resources, the national income as we would now call it, which were 6,000 guilders in 1402, had by 1450 multiplied by six to 34,000 guilders.)
  10. "Zwolle op keerpunt van bestaan" (in Dutch). De Stentor. 2 March 2005.
  11. 1 2 3 Wikisource-logo.svg One or more of the preceding sentences incorporates text from a publication now in the public domain : Chisholm, Hugh, ed. (1911). "Zwolle". Encyclopædia Britannica . 28 (11th ed.). Cambridge University Press. p. 1064.
  13. Boxma, Willem (2001). "Steuren, blauwvingers, kwekweschudders en tukkers. Schimpnamen in Overijssel". Traditie. Tijdschrift over tradities en trends. (in Dutch). 2: 26–27. ISSN   1382-4104.
  14. "In welke stad wonen de blauwvingers?" (in Dutch). Nederlands Centrum voor Volkscultuur. Archived from the original on 11 January 2006. Retrieved 21 March 2007.
  15. "Zwolle (Ov): Broerenkerk". Retrieved 10 August 2013.
  16. Scholten, Rick. "Waanders in the Broerenkerk" . Retrieved 10 August 2013.
  17. IMDb Database retrieved 11 February 2020
  18. "Ter Borch, Gerard"  . Encyclopædia Britannica . 26 (11th ed.). 1911.
  19. IMDb Database retrieved 11 February 2020
  20. IMDb Database retrieved 11 February 2020
  21. "Thorbecke, Jan Rudolf"  . Encyclopædia Britannica . 26 (11th ed.). 1911.
  22. "completion dates A28 at".