Amersfoort is making headlines after being named the European City of the Year 2023. The charming, picturesque city, located in the geographical centre of the Netherlands, is definitely one of the province’s hidden gems for both residents and visitors alike.
Amersfoort was awarded the title by the Academy of Urbanism in early November. It was praised for its quality of life, progressive planning and innovation, as well as the preservation of its unique heritage and character.
Jury members of the Academy of Urbanism visited the city in September, exploring its many treasures by bicycle. The group assessed Amersfoort on its urban planning qualities, social cohesion, sustainability and how the city is governed. “The well-being and happiness of all its citizens are clearly central,” the jury said.
Amersfoort is home to more than 160,000 residents, making it the second-largest city in the province of Utrecht. The region has seen significant growth in the last 20 years, as more and more residents flock to the city.
Businesses also find Amersfoort an attractive place to settle, and more and more international companies are setting up branch offices in the area. Companies such as Applied Medical, Friesland Campina and Arcadis are just a few of the region’s big employers.
“We are seeing more and more international families settling here for work,” said Jaap Mos, Head of School at Amersfoort International School. “We have students that are coming from all corners of the world.” Since 2021, the city of Amersfoort has been planning the establishment of an international school to serve the needs of its growing community, and in August 2023 Amersfoort International School opened its doors for the first time.
"Amersfoort has grown enormously in 50 years, modernized, but the history and the people have always remained emphatically central,” said Amersfoort Mayor Lucas Bolsius. “As far as I'm concerned, the recognition in this award goes to all those Amersfoorters who work together day in and day out to make our city so special."
If you are planning a trip to Amersfoort, be sure to visit the medieval center of the city. It has been well preserved since the Middle Ages. One of the most popular attractions there is the Onze Lieve Vrouwetoren. It is the third highest late-medieval tower in the Netherlands, with a height of more than 98 metres. It has been locally nicknamed, ‘Lange Jan.’
Other sites to see include the Koppelpoort, a medieval land and water gate dating back to 1425, and the famous Muurhuizen (wall houses), built into the original city walls. A stroll through the city is always interesting due to its elaborate canal system and scenic bridges.
Amersfoort is among a list of European cities that have been recognized as the best in Europe by the the Academy of Urbanism. Previous winners include Berlin, Copenhagen, Lisbon, Bilboa, Antwerp and Edinburgh.