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Groningen (/ˈɡrnɪŋən/, also UK: /ˈɡrɒn-/, US: /ˈxrn-/,[5][6][7] Dutch: [ˈɣroːnɪŋə(n)] (About this soundlisten); Gronings: Grun'n) is the main municipality as well as the capital city of the eponymous province in the Netherlands. It is the largest city in the north of the Netherlands and has 231,037 inhabitants (31 January 2019) on a total area of 180.21 km2 (69.58 sq mi), and land area of 168.93 km2 (65.22 sq mi) with a population density of 1,367 per km2 (3,540 per square mile). It merged with Ten Boer and Haren municipalities in 1 January 2019. The Groningen-Assen metropolitan area has about half a million inhabitants. Groningen is an old city (more than 950 years) and was the regional power of the north of the Netherlands, a semi-independent city-state and member of the German Hanseatic League. Groningen is a university city, with an estimated 32,700 students at the University of Groningen (1 October 2019), and an estimated 28,432 at the Hanze University of Applied Sciences (1 February 2020).[8][9]


Grun'n, 'Stad'  (Gronings)
Montage of buildings in the city of Groningen divided by thin lines
Top row: Gasunie building and the southern face of Grote Markt Square; middle row: Groningen City Theater/Korenbeurs and Aa Church, Martini Tower and Goudkantoor; bottom row: Groninger Museum
Two black eagles holding a crowned yellow shield
Coat of arms
Highlighted position of Groningen in a municipal map of Groningen
Location in Groningen
Coordinates: 53°13′N 6°34′E / 53.217°N 6.567°E / 53.217; 6.567Coordinates: 53°13′N 6°34′E / 53.217°N 6.567°E / 53.217; 6.567
City HallGroningen City Hall
 • BodyMunicipal council
 • MayorKoen Schuiling (VVD)
 • Municipality83.75 km2 (32.34 sq mi)
 • Land78.05 km2 (30.14 sq mi)
 • Water5.70 km2 (2.20 sq mi)
Elevation7 m (23 ft)
 (31 March 2020)
 • Municipality232,735[1]
 • Density2,963/km2 (7,670/sq mi)
 • Urban
 • Metro
Demonym(s)Groninger, Stadjer
Time zoneUTC+1 (CET)
 • Summer (DST)UTC+2 (CEST)
Area code050


The city was founded at the northernmost point of the Hondsrug area. The oldest document referring to Groningen's existence dates from 1040: however, the city was occupied by Anglo-Saxons centuries prior.[10] 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.[11]

In the 13th century, when Groningen was an important trade centre, its inhabitants built a city wall to underline its authority.[12] The city had a strong influence on the surrounding lands and made its Gronings 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.[13] During these years, the Martinitoren, then 127 metres (417 feet) tall, was built; it loomed over the city.[14] The city's independence ended in 1536, when it chose to accept Emperor Charles V, the Habsburg ruler of the other Netherlands, as its overlord.[15]

Groningen in the 16th century

In 1594, Groningen, until then held by Spain, was captured by a Dutch and English force led by Maurice of Nassau.[16] Soon afterwards the city and the province joined the Republic of the Seven United Provinces.[17]

In 1614, the University of Groningen was founded, with initial course offerings in Law, Medicine, Theology and Philosophy.[18] 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 28 August (as "Gronings Ontzet" or "Bommen Berend").[19]

Der Aa Church and the Canal (2018)

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.



Groningen has an oceanic temperate climate, like all of the Netherlands, although slightly colder in winter than other major cities in the Netherlands due to its northeasterly position. Weather is influenced by the North Sea to the north-west and its prevailing north-western winds and gales.

Summers are somewhat warm and humid. Temperatures of 30 °C (86 °F) or higher occur sporadically; the average daytime high is around 22 °C (72 °F). Very rainy periods are common, especially in spring and summer. Average annual precipitation is about 800 mm (31 in). Annual sunshine hours vary, but are usually below 1600 hours, giving much cloud cover similar to most of the Netherlands. Climate in this area has mild differences between highs and lows, and there is adequate rainfall year-round. The Köppen Climate Classification subtype for this climate is "Cfb". (Marine West Coast Climate/Oceanic climate).[20]

Winters are cool: on average above freezing, although frosts are common during spells of easterly wind from Germany, Russia and even Siberia. Night-time temperatures of −10 °C (14 °F) or lower are not uncommon during cold winter periods. The lowest temperature ever recorded is −26.8 °C (−16.2 °F) on 16 February 1956. Snow often falls, but rarely stays long due to warmer daytime temperatures, although white snowy days happen every winter.

Climate data for Groningen (Groningen Airport Eelde), 1981–2010 normals, extremes 1906–present
Month Jan Feb Mar Apr May Jun Jul Aug Sep Oct Nov Dec Year
Record high °C (°F) 14.5
Average high °C (°F) 4.7
Daily mean °C (°F) 2.3
Average low °C (°F) −0.4
Record low °C (°F) −22.0
Average precipitation mm (inches) 74.2
Average precipitation days (≥ 1 mm) 13 10 12 8 10 11 11 11 12 12 13 13 137
Average snowy days 8 7 5 2 0 0 0 0 0 0 3 6 33
Average relative humidity (%) 90 88 85 79 79 81 82 83 86 89 91 92 85
Mean monthly sunshine hours 54.2 79.4 117.2 171.6 210.0 187.0 199.1 183.9 137.0 107.2 56.5 47.5 1,550.3
Source: Royal Netherlands Meteorological Institute[21][22]

Population growthEdit

High Rise Office of ministry of Education

The municipality of Groningen has grown rapidly. In 1968 it expanded by mergers with Hoogkerk and Noorddijk, and in 2019 it merged with Haren and Ten Boer. All historical data are for the original city limits, excluding Hoogkerk, Noorddijk, Haren and Ten Boer.


Until 2008, there were two large sugar refineries within 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 shut down in 2008 in response to a reduction in demand.[23] Before closing down, its 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 is the only beet sugar production plant of the company.[24]

Well known companies from Groningen are publishing company Noordhoff Uitgevers,[25] tobacco company Royal Theodorus Niemeyer,[26] health insurance company Menzis,[27] distillery Hooghoudt,[13] and natural gas companies GasUnie and GasTerra.[28] There is an increased focus on business services; specifically IT, life sciences, tourism, energy, and environment.[29] In addition, the hotel and catering industry forms a significant part of the economy of Groningen.[30]


Historical population
YearPop.±% p.a.
1400 5,000—    
1560 12,500+0.57%
1600 16,600+0.71%
1721 20,680+0.18%
1770 23,296+0.24%
1787 22,000−0.34%
1795 23,770+0.97%
Source: Lourens & Lucassen 1997, pp. 30–31


With 25.1%, the largest religion in Groningen is Christianity.

Religions in Groningen (2013)[31]

  No affiliation (71.7%)
  Roman Catholic (6.3%)
  Other Christian denominations (4.7%)
  Islam (2.1%)
  Hinduism (0.6%)
  Buddhism (0.3%)
  Judaism (0.2%)


The city is nationally known as the "Metropolis of the North" and as "Martinistad" referring to the tower of the Martinitoren,[32] named after its patron saint Martin of Tours.[33][34]

Groningen has an important role as the main urban centre of the Northern part of the country, particularly in the fields of music and other arts,[35] education, and business.[36] The large number of students living in Groningen also contributes to a diverse cultural scene for a city of its size.[32]

Since 2016 Groningen is host of the International Cycling Film Festival, an annual film festival for bicycle related films. It takes place in the art house cinema of the old Roman Catholic Hospital.[37]


Forum Groningen

Groningen is home to the Groninger Museum, whose new building was designed by Alessandro Mendini in 1994.[38] Its new design echoes the Italian Post Modern concepts and is notable for its futuristic and colourful style.[39][40] The city also has a maritime museum, a university museum, a comics museum and a graphics museum.[41] Groningen is also the home of Noorderlicht, an international photographic platform that runs a photo gallery and organizes an international photo festival.[42] The Forum Groningen that opened in 2019 is a cultural center consisting of a museum, art cinema, library, bars, rooftop terrace and tourist information office.[43]

Theatre and musicEdit

Theatre building Groningen

Groningen has a city theatre (Stadsschouwburg), located on the Turfsingel;[44] a theatre and concert venue called Martini Plaza;[45] and another cultural venue on the Trompsingel, called the Oosterpoort.[46] Vera is located on the Oosterstraat,[47] the Grand Theatre on the Grote Markt,[48] and Simplon on the Boterdiep.[49] Several cafés feature live music, a few of which specialize in jazz music, including Jazzcafe De Spieghel on the Peperstraat.[50] Groningen is also the host city for Eurosonic Noorderslag, an annual music showcase event for bands from Europe.[51]


Groningen's nightlife depends largely on its student population. Its cultural scene is regarded as 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 five in the morning.[12] Between 2005 and 2007, Groningen was elected "best city centre" of the Netherlands.[52] Groningen has a red-light district, called Nieuwstad.[53]


The Euroborg soccer stadium

The local football club is FC Groningen, founded in 1971. As at the 2018–19 season they play in the Dutch top football league, the Eredivisie. Winners of the KNVB cup in 2014/15, their best league result was in the Eredivisie in the 1990–91 season, when they finished third. Their current stadium, which opened in January 2006, is the Hitachi Capital Mobility Stadion (before the 2015–2016 season it was called the Euroborg stadium and it was called Noordlease Stadion from 2016 to 2018) which has 22,550 seats.[54]

American sports are fairly popular in Groningen; it has American football, baseball, and basketball clubs. Groningen's professional basketball club, Donar, play in the highest professional league, the Dutch Basketball League, and have won the national championship seven times. The Groningen Giants are the American Football Team of Groningen. They play in the Dutch Eredivisie and are considered the "Kings of the North".

One of the biggest running events of the country, the 4 Miles of Groningen, takes place in Groningen every year on the second Sunday in October.

The 2002 Giro d'Italia started in Groningen, including the prologue and the start of the 1st stage. The city also hosted the start and finish of the 5th stage of the 2013 Energiewacht Tour.


Academy Building of the University of Groningen in 2019
Main building of the University of Groningen (2004)

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. 200,000 people were either students, teachers or researchers at the university. Groningen University hosts about 31,000 students of whom about 22% are international.[55]

The Hanze university of applied sciences (in Dutch: Hanzehogeschool Groningen) was founded in 1986 and is more focused on the practical application of knowledge, offering bachelor and master courses in subjects like Electrical and Electronic Engineering, Communication & Multimedia Design, Renewable Energy and more.[56] While only 8,1% of students are international, Hanze hosts more than 28,000 students and is one of the biggest University of Applied Sciences in the Netherlands.[57]

Having about 59,000 students total and about 200,000 inhabitants, the city of Groningen has one of the highest density of students in the nation, approximately 25%.


As at January 2019, the Groningen municipality council has 45 members. GroenLinks is the largest party on the council with 11 seats. The PvdA holds 6 seats. Both D66 and the Socialist Party have 5 seats. The VVD has 4 seats, while ChristenUnie and the Party for the Animals each have 3 seats. Christian Democratic Appeal, 100% Groningen and Stadspartij have 2 seats each; the 2 remaining seats are divided between Student en Stad and the right party Party for Freedom.[58][59]

International relationsEdit

Groningen is twinned with the following:[60]


Cycling and walkingEdit

Herestraat, the main shopping street (2004)

Groningen has been called the "World Cycling City" because 57% of journeys within the city are made by bicycle.[63] Like most Dutch cities, Groningen is well adapted to the large number of cyclists. A large network of bike paths makes it convenient to cycle to various destinations. In 2000, Groningen was chosen as Fietsstad 2002 — top BikeCity of the Netherlands for 2002.

The city is very much adapted to the wishes of those who want to get around without a car, as it has an extensive network of segregated cycle-paths, good public transport, and a large pedestrianised zone in the city centre. The transformation of the historic centre into a pedestrian priority zone enables and invites walking and biking. This is achieved by applying the principle of "filtered permeability". It means that the network configuration favours active transportation and selectively "filters out" the car by reducing the number of streets that run through the centre. While certain streets are discontinuous for cars, they connect to a network of pedestrian and bike paths which permeate the entire centre. In addition, these paths go through public squares and open spaces, increasing the enjoyment of the trip (see image). The logic of filtering a mode of transport is fully expressed in a comprehensive model for laying out neighbourhoods and districts – the fused grid.

Public transportEdit


Railway station Groningen (2008)

The Station of Groningen or Hoofdstation as the locals call it, has regular services to most of the major cities in the Netherlands. The city's remaining two railway stations are Europapark and Noord.

Groningen has six railway routes:

On those six routes, ten lines stop at:


Groningen has many bus lines and Q-Link, a network of busses similar to a tram / metro network. The bus company Qbuzz has created a similar system, U-Link in Utrecht.

Direct bus routes Groningen and Bremen, Hamburg, Berlin, and Munich are also available.


The A28 motorway connects the city of Groningen to Utrecht (via Assen, Zwolle and Amersfoort). The A7 motorway connects Groningen to Friesland and Zaandam (West) and Winschoten and Leer (East).


Groningen Airport Eelde

Groningen Airport Eelde is located 10 kilometres (6 miles) south of the centre of Groningen, with scheduled services to Guernsey, Gran Canaria, Antalya, Crete, Mallorca & Bodrum.


A ferry service is being proposed between The Eemshaven and Rosyth, Scotland.

Notable peopleEdit

Dirk Jan de Geer, 1926

See alsoEdit


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  • Lourens, Piet; Lucassen, Jan (1997). Inwonertallen van Nederlandse steden ca. 1300–1800. Amsterdam: NEHA. ISBN 9057420082.CS1 maint: ref=harv (link)

External linksEdit