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 is a municipality and a town in the Netherlandsmarker, in the province of North Holland. Located in the region called "'t Gooi", it is the largest town in that area. It is surrounded by heathland, wood, meadows, lakes, and smaller villages. Hilversum is part of the Randstadmarker, one of the largest conurbations in Europe.

The town of Hilversum

Hilversum lies some 30 km south-east of Amsterdammarker and 20 km north of Utrechtmarker.

The town is often called "media city" since it is the principal centre for radio and television broadcasting in the Netherlands. Radio Netherlands, heard worldwide via shortwave radio since the 1920s, is based here. Hilversum is home to an extensive complex of audio and television studios belonging to the national broadcast production company NOB, as well as to the studios and offices of all the Dutch public broadcasting organizations and many commercial TV production companies. As a result many old radio sets in Britain had a "Hilversum” dial position marked on their tuning scales (along with other exotic locations like Athlonemarker).

Hilversum is also known for its architecturally important "Raadhuis" or town hall, designed by Willem Dudok (1884-1974).

Hilversum has one public library (it used to have three but two were closed due to financial problems), two swimming pools (Hellemond Sport and De Lieberg), a number of sporting halls and several shopping centers (such as Hilvertshof, Kerkelanden, Riebeeck-Galerij, Severijn, Seinhorst and Chatham). In the region the city center is known as 'het dorp' which means 'the village'.


Earthenware found in Hilversum show that the area has been inhabited since at least the early- to mid-Bronze Age, or 1800-1200 BCE. Artifacts from this prehistoric civilization bear similarities to the Wessex Culture of southern Britain and may indicate that the first Hilversum residents emigrated from that area. The first brick settlements formed around 900, but it wasn't until 1305 that the first official mention of Hilversum ("Hilfersheem" from "Hilvertshem" meaning "houses between the hills") is found. At that point it was a part of Naardenmarker, the oldest town in the Gooi area.

Farming, raising sheep and some wool manufacturing were the means of life for the Gooi in the Middle Ages. In March 1424, Hilversum received its first official independent status. This made possible further growth in the town because permission from Naarden was no longer needed for new industrial development. The town grew further in the 17th century when the Dutch economy as a whole entered its age of prosperity, and several canals were built connecting it indirectly to Amsterdam. In 1725 and 1766 large fires destroyed most of the town, leveling parts of the old townhouse and the church next to it. The town overcame these setbacks and the textile industry continued to develop, among other ways by devising a way to weave cows' hair. In the 19th century a substantial textile and tapestry industry emerged, aided by a railway link to Amsterdam in 1874. From that time the town grew quickly with rich commuters from Amsterdam moving in, building themselves large villas in the wooded surroundings, and gradually starting to live in Hilversum permanently. Despite this growth, Hilversum was never granted city rights so it is still referred to by many locals as "het dorp," or "the village."

The Nederlandse Seintoestellen Fabriek (NSF) company established a professional transmitter and radio factory in Hilversum in the early 1920s, growing into the largest of its kind in the Netherlands, and in 1948 being taken over by Philips. By then the textile industry had started its decline; only one factory, Veneta, managed to continue into the 1960s, when it also had to close its doors. Another major industry, the chemical factory IFF, also closed by the end of the 1960s. In the meantime, almost all Dutch radio broadcasting organizations (followed by television broadcasters in the 1950s) established their headquarters in Hilversum and provided a source of continuing economic growth. The concentration of broadcasters in Hilversum has given it its enduring status as the media city for The Netherlands.

In 1964, the population reached a record high - over 103,000 people called Hilversum home. The current population hovers around 84,000. Several factors figure into the decline: one is the fact that the average family nowadays consists of fewer people, so fewer people live in each house; second, the town is virtually unable to expand because all the surrounding lands were sold to the Gooisch Natuurreservaat by city architect W.M. Dudok.

Some sources blame connections in the television world for attracting crime to Hilversum, and the town has had to cope with mounting drug-related issues in a community with higher than average unemployment and ongoing housing shortage.

Hilversum was one of the first towns to have a local party of the populist movement called Leefbaar . Founded by former social-democrat party strongman Jan Nagel, it was initially held at bay for alderman positions. In 2001, Nagel from 'Leefbaar Hilversum' teamed up with 'Leefbaar Utrecht' leaders to found a national 'Leefbaar Nederland' party. By strange coincidence, in 2002 the most vocal and controversial Dutch 'Leefbaar Rotterdam' politician Pim Fortuyn was shot and killed by an animal rights activist at Hilversum Media Park just after finishing a radio interview. This happened, however, after a break between Fortuyn and Nagel during a Leefbaar Nederland board meeting in Hilversum on Fortuyn's anti-Islamic viewpoints.

The town of Hilversum has put a great deal of effort into improvements, including a recent renovation to its central train station, thorough renovation of the main shopping center (Hilvertshof), and development of new dining and retail districts downtown including the "vintage" district in the Leeuwenstraat. Several notable architectural accomplishments include the Institute for Sound and Vision, and the largest man-made wildlife crossing in the world, Zanderij Crailoo

Facts about the city

Shopping district Noordse Bosje
  • The home of the Dutch open golf tournament KLM Open.
  • The population declined from 103,000 in 1964 to 84,000 in 2006.
  • It was the location of the assassination of Pim Fortuyn, a controversial politician.
  • The first city with a "Leefbaar" party (which was intended as just a local party).
  • The high number of villas dating back to the 1900s.
  • The large Catholic neo-gothic St. Vitus church (P.J.H. Cuypers, 1892, belltower 96 meters).
  • The city was the headquarters of the German ground forces (Wehrmacht) in the Netherlands.
  • The city has 3 ports, an airfield, and 2 military bases.
  • The city played host to many landscape artists during the 19th Century, including Barend Cornelis Koekkoek.


Hilversum is well connected to the Dutch railway network, and contains three stations:

The best links are from Hilversum railway station, as this is an Intercity station.

Local government

The municipal council of Hilversum in 2006 consists of 37 seats, which are divided as followed:

Born in Hilversum

Notable people born in Hilversum:


  1. Accessed 12-10-2009.
  2. Accessed 12-10-2009.
  3. Accessed 12-10-2009.


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