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Nijmegen ( ) is a municipality and a city in the east of the Netherlandsmarker, near the Germanmarker border. It is considered to be the oldest city in the Netherlands and celebrated its 2000th year of existence in 2005.

East central Nijmegen, seen from railway bridge
Nijmegen Benedenstad

The city of Nijmegen


The first mention of Nijmegen in history is in the 1st century BC, when the Romans built a military camp on the place where Nijmegen was to appear; the location had great strategic value because of the surrounding hills, which gave (and continue to give) a good view over the Waal and Rhinemarker valley.

By 69, when the Batavians, the original inhabitants of the Rhine and Maasmarker valley, revolted, a village called Oppidum Batavorum had formed near the Roman camp. This village was destroyed in the revolt, but when the revolt had ended the Romans built another, bigger camp where the Legio X Gemina was stationed. Soon after, another village formed around this camp.

In 98 Nijmegen was the first of two settlements in what is now the Kingdom of the Netherlands to receive Roman city rights.

In 103 the X Gemina was restationed to Viennamarker, which may have been a major blow to the economy of the village around the camp. In 104 Emperor Trajan renamed the town, which now became known as Ulpia Noviomagus Batavorum, Noviomagus for short (the origin of the current name Nijmegen). Few Roman remains are visible today; a fragment of the old city wall can be seen near the casino and the foundations of the amphitheatre are traced in the paving of the present-day Rembrandtstraat. However, the Valkhof museummarker has a large collection of Roman artifacts that have been dug up over the years.

In the 4th century, Roman power decreased and Nijmegen became part of the Frankish kingdom. It has been contended that in the 8th century Emperor Charlemagne maintained his palatium in Nijmegen on at least four occasions. During his brief deposition of 830, the emperor Louis the Pious was sent to Nijmegen by his son Lothar I. Thanks to the Waal river, trade flourished and in 1230, Nijmegen was given city rights by Frederick II, Holy Roman Emperor. In 1247, the city was ceded to the count of Guelders as collateral for a loan. The loan was never repaid, and Nijmegen has been a part of Gelderland ever since. This did not hamper trade; Nijmegen even became part of the Hanseatic League in 1364.

The arts also flourished in this period. Famous medieval painters like the Limbourg brothers were born and educated in Nijmegen.

During the Dutch Revolt, trade came to a halt and even though Nijmegen became a part of the Republic of United Provinces in 1585, it remained a border town and had to endure multiple sieges.
The Waal near Nimwegen, 1641.

In 1678 Nijmegen was host to the negotiations between the European powers that aimed to put an end to the constant warfare that had ravaged the continent for years. The result was the Treaty of Nijmegen that, unfortunately, failed to provide for a lasting peace.

In the second half of the 19th century, the fortifications around the city became a major problem; there were too many inhabitants inside the walls, but the fortifications could not be demolished because Nijmegen was deemed as being of vital importance to the defence of the Netherlands. When, however, events in the Franco-Prussian war proved that old-fashioned fortifications were no more of use, this policy was changed and the fortifications were dismantled in 1874. The old castle had already been demolished in 1797, so that its bricks could be sold.

Through the second half of the 19th century and the first half of the 20th century, Nijmegen grew steadily. The Waal was bridged in 1878 by a rail bridge and in 1936 by a car bridge, which was claimed to be Europe's biggest bridge at the time. In 1923 the current Radboud University Nijmegenmarker was founded and in 1927 a channel was dug between the Waal and Maas rivers.

In 1940, the Netherlands were invaded by Germanymarker with Nijmegen being the first Dutch city to fall into German hands. On February 22, 1944, Nijmegen was heavily bombed by Americanmarker planes, causing great damage to the city centre. The American pilots may have thought they were bombing the German city of Klevemarker. Alleged by the Germans to have been a deliberate act, the NIOD announced in January 2005 that its study of the incident confirmed that it was an accident caused by poor communications and chaos in the airspace. Over 750 people died in the incident.

During September 1944, the city saw heavy fighting during Operation Market Garden. The objective in Nijmegen was mainly to prevent the Germans from destroying the bridges. Capturing the road bridge allowed the British Army XXX Corps to attempt to reach the British airborne troops in Arnhemmarker. The bridge was heavily defended by over 300 German troops on both the North and South sides with close to 20 anti-tank guns and two anti-aircraft guns, supported with Artillery.

The Germans' late attempt to blow the road bridge may well have been foiled by a local Dutch resistance hero, Jan van Hoof. who probably cut the wires to the bridge.

The Germans made repeated attacks on the bridge using bombs attached to driftwood, midget submarines and later resorted to shelling the bridge with 88mm barrages. Troops were positioned on the bridge giving an excellent arc of fire in case of attack. Troops that couldn't fit onto the bridge were positioned in a bombed out house slightly upstream of the bridge. During the shelling, the house was hit, killing 6 soldiers and wounding 1 more.

Nijmegen was liberated from German captivity by the British Grenadier Guards of the Guards Armoured Division, as well as elements of the American 82nd Airborne Division in September 1944. This city would later be used as a springboard for Operation Veritable, the invasion across the Rhine River by Allied Troops.

More recently, on February 23, 1981, the Nijmegen Police Department and the Dutch Army stormed the Piersonstraat and Zeigelhof, a squatted housing block in the city center of Nijmegen. Using two hundred riot vans, three Leopard MBTs, three armoured personnel carriers, a helicopter, twelve hundred policemen, and seven hundred fifty members of the armed forces, they evicted the squatters and demolished the block, while clouding the entire area in teargas and CS gas. This had an enormous backlash in local politics. While the city government wanted the squatters out to build a parking garage, most of the population wanted affordable housing to be built in the area.

As to this date Nijmegen is still known as Havanamarker on the Waal among some Right-wingers. The Socialist Party, the Green Party and Labour have a solid two-third majority in City Council, making Nijmegen the only major city in The Netherlandsmarker with a solely Left-wing government. The current mayor is Mr Thom de Graaf.

Nijmegen celebrated its 2000th year of existence in 2005; it is considered the oldest city in the Netherlands. In gaining this qualification, it has competed with the city of Maastrichtmarker.

In November 2005, the city center of Nijmegen was the site of the assassination of political activist Louis Sévèke by a former activist (Marcel T.). Marcel T. was arrested in 2007 in Spain and extradicted to the Netherlands. Marcel T. was also accused of bankrobbery. Marcel T. committed his acts out of revenge for a forceful eviction from the squatter scene by Louis Sévèke.


Nijmegen is generally speaking the warmest area of the Netherlands, especially during summer, when the highest temperatures in the country are usually measured in the triangle Roermond - Nijmegen - Eindhoven. The lack of north-south oriented mountain ranges in Europe make this area prone to sudden shifts in weather, giving the region a semi-continental climate.

Some of the northernmost wineries in the world are found just outside of Nijmegen, around Groesbeekmarker, a suburban village south-east of Nijmegen.

During the 2006 European heat wave, Kalkar reached a high of 38.6°C (101.5°F) on July 19, and a Weather Underground station in Nijmegen-Dukenburg reached a high of 38.7°C (101.7°F), which, if accepted by the KNMI, would have been a record high for the Netherlands. The KNMI does not consider data from stations operated by others, however.The heat wave coincided with that year's Four Day Marches, which were cancelled after the first day, when two people died of hyperthermia-related causes. Temperatures on that day, the 18th of July, reached around 36°C (97°F).

On the night of January 6, 2009, an all-time record low of -17.5°C was reached at Weeze airport, and many other stations around Nijmegen reached record or near-record low temperatures, as low as -21°C (-5°F) at some places. Raeren in Belgium recorded -25.9°C (-15°F), making this cold spell the coldest in at least 60 years.

Nijmegen is in USDAmarker Hardiness zone 8 and AHS Heat zone 3.


Nijmegen is host to Radboud University Nijmegenmarker. Founded in 1923 as the first Catholic university in the Netherlands. It used to be called (Catholic) University of Nijmegen until 2004, when it took its current name. As of 2006 it had 17,627 students 4,336 staff. Radboud University runs the High Field Magnetic Laboratory which is able to achieve some of the highest fields available in Europe at 33 teslas (continuous) and 60 teslas (pulsed). The facility is available to outside users, primarily for research purposes.

The education and social work departments of the Hogeschool van Arnhem en Nijmegen school for higher level vocational training are also located in Nijmegen, as are that school's medical departments.

In addition to these institutions, there is also an intermediate level vocational school (ROC Nijmegen) and a number of secondary schools: Groenschool Nijmegen, Kandinsky College, Nijmeegse Scholengemeenschap Groenewoud (NSG), Stedelijke Scholengemeenschap Nijmegen (SSGN), Canisius College, St. Jorisschool, Lindenholt College, the Stedelijk Gymnasium (formally the "Latijnse school", founded in the 16th century), the Karel de Grote College, Montessori College and the Dominicus College. Of note is also Leefwerkschool Eigenwijs, which caters to students from all over the Netherlands who have been repeatedly expelled from "regular" high schools. Leefwerkschool Eigenwijs has its roots in the local activist movement of the early 1980s and is the only school of its kind recognised in the Netherlands.

Nijmegen is also an important center of Psycholinguistics, home to the Max Planck Institute of Psycholinguistics and the Donders Institute for Brain, Cognition and Behaviour.


Nijmegen has four train stations: Nijmegenmarker, Nijmegen Dukenburgmarker, Nijmegen Heyendaalmarker and Nijmegen Lentmarker. The central station is connected to the national Intercity network. The bus company Novio operates the city buses while Hermes maintains regional buses in cooperation with Veolia and Connexxion.

Museums in and around Nijmegen

International Four Day March Nijmegen

Nijmegen is famous for the International Four Day March Nijmegen ( , informally Nijmeegse Vierdaagse), an annual event starting on the third Tuesday in July, comprising four days of walking (distances ranging from 30 to 50 km a day), and the accompanying festivities (the Vierdaagsefeesten including rock festival de-Affaire), which have been drawing the largest crowds for any Dutch event in the past few years.

The event invites WWII allied veterans to help celebrate their participation in the liberation of the Netherlands from German occupation. Participants from Britain, Canada, the USA, Australia and New Zealand have attended the event. Now-a-days, the event is international, inviting teams from all countries to attention.

During the Vierdaagse of 2006 two people died due to the extreme hot weather.(note that the deceased had other health issues that added up to the death cause).It caused the organisation to cancel the rest of the walk. This resulted in extra safety measures during the 2007 Vierdaagse; for instance, a professional weatherman was added to the organisation staff, more free water refill stations were added along the route and an extensive research program was developed to monitor the effects of hiking long distances on the human body.


St. Stephen's Church (restored after WWII)

In 1968 prominent liberal theologians in the Roman Catholic Church issued what is now known as the Nijmegen Statement, demanding sweeping reforms in the Vatican's Holy Office, previously known as The Inquisition, and calling for greater scope for theological inquiry. Among its signatories was the then progressive theologian Fr. Joseph Ratzinger, then a member of the faculty at the University of Tubingenmarker but later a much more conservative figure as the head of the successor to the Holy Office, the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, and later still Pope Benedict XVI.

The Nijmegen Statement said: "Any form of Inquisition however subtle, not only harms the development of sound theology, it also causes irreparable damage to the credibility of the church". The signatories, a group of predominantly German-speaking theologians asserted that "the freedom of theologians, and theology in the service of the church, regained by Vatican II, must not be jeopardized again." The signatories pledged their loyalty to the pope, but argued that the teaching office of pope and bishops "cannot and must not supersede, hamper and impede the teaching task of theologians as scholars."

Population centres

The municipality is formed by the city of Nijmegen, incorporating the former villages of Hatertmarker, Hees and Neerbosch, as well as the urban expansion project of Waalsprong, situated north of the river Waal and including the village of Lentmarker and the hamlet of 't Zandmarker, as well as the new suburbs of Nijmegen-Oosterhout and Nijmegen-Ressen.


Council seats
Party seats change from 2002
PvdA 11 +3
SP 7 +1
GroenLinks 6 -3
CDA 5 -
VVD 4 -
D66 2 +1
stadspar 1 -2
VSP 1 -1
nijmnu 1 -
gewnijm 1 +1

The city council has 39 seats. After the 2002 municipal elections, the three major parties, GroenLinks (9 seats), PvdA (8 seats) and SP (6 seats) formed a coalition. Because these are all left-wing parties, Nijmegen received the nickname 'Havanamarker on the Waal'. Although such majorities are no exception (compare Amsterdammarker) and sometimes also form coalitions (see Muntendammarker), this is unusual for a city this size. Since such a left-wing coalition might be possible at a national level after the 2006 general election, the achievements of this council are often scrutinised. After the 2006 municipal election such a coalition became possible in many more municipalities, making the example even more interesting.

The municipal elections of 7 March 2006 saw an increase of 4,6% of the votes for these three parties taken together, which could be seen as increased support for the coalition. However, nationally these parties scored much better, recovering from an electoral blow of the 2002 elections. Then again, the Leefbaar parties that caused the loss then and lost most of their votes this time have no branch in Nijmegen, which makes this comparison less valid. Among the three big parties, there was a shift from GroenLinks, who lost 6.5%, to PvdA, who won 6.4% and SP, who won 2.3%. As a result it is no longer the biggest party. The seat assignment is now as shown in the table. The three-party coalition was returned to office.


Sport in the city is principally focussed on its football club N.E.C. Nijmegen or just NEC, short for Nijmegen Eendracht Combinatie, who play at the 12,500 seater McDOS Goffertstadionmarker. The club is in the top division, the Eredivisie, and qualified for the 2008-9 UEFA Cup.

Bandy Vereniging Nijmegen is the biggest bandy club in the country.

Natives and residents

See also People from Nijmegen
House in the lower part of Nijmegen, the so-called Benedenstad.
St Stephen's, Nijmegen.



International relations

Twin towns — Sister cities

Nijmegen is twinned with:


  1. obsolete spellings: Nijmwegen, Nymegen, Nieumeghen — Nimwegen in local dialect and in German, Nimègue in French, Nimega in Spanish and Italian

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