Groningen (Netherlands)

2017-04-17 11:24:59 , Source : The Government Website of Shaanxi Province

Groningen is the main municipality as well as the capital city of the eponymous province in the Netherlands. With a population of 201,865 as of 2016, it is the largest city in the north of the Netherlands. An old city, Groningen was the regional power of the northern Netherlands, a semi-independent city-state and member of the German Hanseatic League. Groningen is a university city: it houses the University of Groningen (about 30,000 students) and the Hanze University of Applied Sciences (about 25,000 students).

History

The city was founded on the northernmost point of the Hondsrug area. The oldest document referring to Groningen's existence dates from 1040. However, the city already existed long before then: the oldest archaeological traces found are believed to stem from the years 3950–3720 BC, although the first major settlement in Groningen has been traced back to the 3rd century AD.

In the 13th century, when Groningen was an important trade centre, its inhabitants built a city wall to underline its authority. The city had a strong influence on the surrounding lands and made its dialect a common tongue. The most influential period of the city was the end of the 15th century, when the nearby province of Friesland was administered from Groningen. During these years, the Martinitoren was built, which loomed over the city (then) at 127 metres (417 feet) tall. The city's independence came to an end when in 1536; it chose to accept Emperor Charles V, the Habsburg ruler of the other Netherlands, as its overlord. Later, it joined the Republic of the Seven United Provinces.

In 1614, the University of Groningen was founded, initially only for religious education. In the same period the city expanded rapidly and a new city wall was built. That same city wall was tested during the Third Anglo-Dutch War in 1672, when the city was attacked fiercely by the bishop of Münster, Bernhard von Galen. The city walls resisted an event that is still celebrated with music and fireworks on August the 28th (as "Gronings Ontzet" or "Bommen Berend").

The city did not escape the devastation of World War II. In particular, the main square, the Grote Markt, was largely destroyed in April 1945 in the Battle of Groningen. However, the Martinitoren, its church, the Goudkantoor, and the city hall were not damaged. The battle lasted several days.

University of Groningen

The University of Groningen (in Dutch: Rijksuniversiteit Groningen) has a rich academic tradition that dates back to 1614. After the University of Leiden, it is the second oldest Dutch university. The university educated the first female student, Aletta Jacobs, the first Dutch national astronaut, Wubbo Ockels, the first president of the European Central Bank, Wim Duisenberg and two Nobel Prize winners, Heike Kamerlingh Onnes and Ben Feringa. There are 200,000 students, teachers or researchers at the university. Groningen has the highest percentage of students by total population, approximately 25 percent.

Art, culture and nightlife

The city is nationally known as the "Metropolis of the North" and as "Martinistad" referring to the tower of the Martinitoren, named after its patron saint Martin of Tours.

Although Groningen is not a very large city, it does have an important role as the main urban centre of this part of the country, particularly in the fields of music and other arts, education, and business. The large number of students living in Groningen also contributes to a diverse cultural scene for a city of its size.

Museums

The most important and most famous museum in Groningen is the Groninger Museum. With the construction of its current building, designed by Alessandro Mendini, the museum has been transformed into one of the most modern and innovative of its kind in the Netherlands. In addition, the city has a maritime museum, a university museum, a comics museum and a graphics museum. Groningen is also home of Noorderlicht, an international photographic platform that runs a photo gallery and organizes an international photo festival.

Theatre and music

Groningen has a city theatre (Stadsschouwburg), located on the Turfsingel; a big theatre and concert venue called Martini Plaza; and another major cultural venue on the Trompsingel, called the Oosterpoort. Vera is located on the Oosterstraat, the Grand Theatre on the Grote Markt, and Simplon on the Boterdiep. Several cafés feature live music, a few of which specialize in jazz music, including Jazzcafe De Spieghel on the Peperstraat. The jazz music students from the Prince Claus Conservatoire have been known to hold regular jam sessions in cafés such as Peter Pan on the Voor Het Voormalige Klein Poortje and café De Smederij on the Tuinstraat 2–4. Groningen is also the host city for Eurosonic Noorderslag, an annual music showcase event for over a hundred bands from all over Europe.

Nightlife

Groningen's nightlife depends largely on its student population. Its cultural scene is vibrant and remarkable for a city its size. In particular, the Grote Markt, the Vismarkt, the Poelestraat and Peperstraat are crowded every night of the week, and most bars do not close until 5 in the morning. Between 2005 and 2007, Groningen was elected "best city centre" of the Netherlands. Groningen has a red-light district, called Nieuwstad. A second one in the A-kwartier (an area) has been closed as of late 2015. Both areas are in or near the city centre.

Politics

The city council has 39 members. With 9 seats, the social-liberal D66 is the largest party on the council. The social-democratic PvdA has 6 seats, as does the Socialist Party. The centre-right VVD has 3 seats. GroenLinks holds 4 seats, and the local party Stadspartij 2 seats. The CDA and ChristenUnie are represented by 3 and 2 councilors, respectively. The Students and City (Student en Stad) holds 2 seats, and the Party for the Animals and 100% Groningen both hold one seat.

Economy

Until recently, two large sugar refineries were inside the city boundaries. The Suiker Unie plant was originally outside Groningen, but it was completely swallowed by the expansion of the city. After a campaign to close the factory, it was finally shut down in 2008/2009. Before closing down, the sugar production amounted to 250,000 tonnes of beet sugar, with 250 employees (2005 figures). The only remaining sugar factory is CSM Vierverlaten in Hoogkerk, which produces 235,000 tonnes of beet sugar, with 283 employees.

Nowadays, well known companies from Groningen are a publishing company Noordhoff Uitgevers, a tobacco company Royal Theodorus Niemeyer, a health insurance company Menzis, a distillery Hooghoudt and the natural gas companies GasUnie and GasTerra. There is an increased focus on business services; specifically ICT, Life Sciences, Tourism, Energy and Environment.

Moreover, the Hotel and Catering Industry form a significant part of the economy of Groningen.

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