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Kerkrade ( ) (Limburgish: Kirchroa) is a town and a municipality in the southeastern Netherlandsmarker.It is the western half of the divided region and de facto city, taken together with the eastern half, the German townmarker of Herzogenrathmarker, which was the original name of the municipality under the Holy Roman Empire. The two towns, taken together and including outlying suburban "villages", the divided municipality (the border was drawn right through the town centre) have a combined population approaching 100,000.


The history of Kerkrade is closely linked with that of the adjacent town of Herzogenrathmarker, just across the German border. Herzogenrath began as a settlement, called Rode, near the river Wormmarker (or Wurm in German) in the 11th century. In 1104 Augustinian monks founded an abbey, called Kloosterrade, to the west of this settlement.

It was called 's-Hertogenrode or 's-Hertogenrade (Dutch: the Duke's Rode) after the duchy of Brabant took control over the region; in French it was called Rolduc (Rode-le-duc). As is the case for many parts of the Southern Netherlands, the place changed hands several times in the last few centuries. It was under Spanish control from 1661, Austrian between 1713 and 1785 and French between 1795 and 1813. In 1815, when the kingdom of the Netherlands was formed (see Vienna Congress), the border was drawn through Herzogenrath, the western part being Kerkrade.

In the 18th century the monks of Rolduc began small-scale coal mines. More modern exploitation by others started in 1860, causing Kerkrade to grow significantly, especially as a consequence of the permanent settlement of mainly Southern-European miners in this Northern-European place. When the Willem Sophia mine was opened around 1900, the town grew even more rapidly, absorbing old villages like Chèvremont. In the decades following 1960, all the mines in Limburg were closed.

One of the oldest buildings in the municipality is Oud Ehrenstein, a castle the origins of which lie in the 14th century.

The border along Nieuwstraat/Neustraße street

One part of the border between the Netherlands and Germany runs along the middle of the street Nieuwstraat/Neustra√üe. Because of relatively unrestricted cross-border travel within the European Union, this border was for many years marked only with a low wall, about 30 cm high, running along the length of the street. There was a separate 2-way road on each side, and cars had to pass through the official crossing points, but pedestrians could readily step over the wall (although there were signs informing of the border). In 1991, it was decided to remove the wall completely. Nieuwstraat/Neustra√üe is now a single two-way road, with the extra space now occupied with trees and bicycle lanes. The border is unmarked, and is crossed even when going round a roundabout or overtaking a vehicle. (See Schengen treaty.)

Population centres

Like many larger municipalities, Kerkrade has outlying neighborhoods and housing developments, in a word, suburbs which are bedroom communities outside the business district of the entity.


Internationally Kerkrade is known as the town, where every fourth year (last was in 2009) the quadra-annual event promoted as the World Music Contest is held. During three weeks amateur, as well as professional, military bands and similar orchestras from many countries meet to compete in their category and division.

Natives of Kerkrade


There are 4 stations in Kerkrade:

Miscellaneous information

The building of a dam in the Anstel, a brook flowing west of Kerkrade, has led to the formation of a reservoir with an area of about 20 ha. This and its surroundings are very rich in flora and fauna.

Kerkrade is the home of the football club Roda JC.

The patron saint of Kerkrade is Saint Barbara, who is also the patron saint of miners.


  1. Stenvert, R. et al. (2003). Monumenten in Nederland: Limburg, p. 173‚Äď178. Zwolle: Waanders Uitgevers. ISBN 90-400-9623-6.

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