Past Cities

Apeldoorn, Gelderland, Netherlands

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Apeldoorn is a historic city located in the province of Gelderland, Netherlands. Situated on the eastern edge of the Veluwe, a large forest-rich area, Apeldoorn has a rich history dating back centuries.

The earliest recorded mention of Apeldoorn dates back to the 8th century when it was a small settlement surrounded by dense forests. Initially, the area was primarily used for hunting by the ruling elites, who enjoyed the abundant wildlife that the Veluwe offered. Over time, the settlement grew, attracting more residents seeking opportunities for farming and trade.

Throughout the medieval period, Apeldoorn remained a relatively small and insignificant town. However, its strategic location near the trade routes between the cities of Deventer and Arnhem played a significant role in its development. The town became a popular resting point for merchants and travelers, leading to an increase in trade and economic activity.

By the 16th century, Apeldoorn had begun to flourish. The region's fertile lands were ideal for agriculture, particularly sheep farming, which became a major industry in the area. The growing prosperity attracted more people to settle in the town, and its population steadily increased. In 1577, Apeldoorn was granted city rights by William of Orange, allowing it to have its own governance structure and participate in regional politics.

Apeldoorn's history took a dramatic turn in the 19th century with the arrival of the Dutch royal family. King Willem III and Queen Emma chose the town as their summer residence, bringing significant economic and cultural benefits. The royal presence attracted affluent individuals who built grand mansions and estates in the vicinity, contributing to the town's architectural beauty.

The political environment also had a significant impact on Apeldoorn's history. During the Napoleonic era, the region was under French rule, which led to changes in governance and administrative systems. However, with the fall of Napoleon, the Netherlands regained independence and underwent a period of nation-building. Apeldoorn experienced industrialization and urbanization during this time, with the establishment of factories and improved infrastructure.

One of the most significant events in Apeldoorn's history occurred during World War II. The city suffered extensive damage during the German occupation. The occupying forces used Apeldoorn as a base, leading to bombings and destruction. However, after the war, the city underwent a rapid reconstruction process, with many historical buildings being restored to their former glory.

Apeldoorn continued to grow and develop throughout the latter half of the 20th century. The city embraced modernization and urban expansion, attracting new industries and businesses. The population also witnessed substantial growth, reaching approximately 162,445 inhabitants as of 2021.

The geographic location of Apeldoorn played a vital role in shaping its history. Situated on the edge of the Veluwe, the city has been influenced by its proximity to nature. The Veluwe's forests and natural beauty have attracted tourists and outdoor enthusiasts, contributing to the local economy. Additionally, the presence of the royal family and their royal palace, Het Loo, has made Apeldoorn a popular destination for cultural tourism.