Groningen is in size the seventh city of The Netherlands and the largest in the north. Because of its number of inhabitants, industry and educational establishments the city is an important pillar in the region, also known as Metropolis of the North.
The city of Groningen was founded on a northern end of the Hondsrug, a sand ridge on the border between the provinces Groningen and Drenthe, where the stream Drentsche Aa used to flow into the river Hunze. In the city several things remember to this Drentsche Aa, for instance in the name of the Der Aa-kerk and the street names Hoge der A en lage der A.
Groningen lies in the open agricultural landscape of the Ommelanden, that nowadays form the province Groningen and used to be owned by the city. South of Groningen we find the lakes Hoornsemeer and Zuidlaardermeer, remainders of the stream valley of the Drentsche Aa, now a watersports and recreation territory.
In the late Middle Ages, several cities that dominated regional trading along the Northsee and Baltic Sea founded the Hanseatic League. In the fourteenth century Groningen joins the league that connects cities in Scandinavia, Germany, Russia and England. Groningen had developed from a small esdorp to a prominent trading place in the meantime. Through the prosperity of this era we also speek of the fourteenth and fifteenth century as the Dutch Golden Age.
External influences cause Groningen to develop an own cultural identity within the Frisian region. Thanks to the influential economic position of the city it gains more and more control over the surrounding Ommeland throughout the Golden Age. At the end of the fifteenth century Groningen separates itself from Friesland.
Not only is Groningen an economic centre, it is also important because of its educational institutions. The Rijksuniversiteit Groningen was founded in 1614, but Groningen then already had its own educational tradition. Today no less than a quarter of the population of Groningen is formed by students, that give the city its well-known atmosphere and outbound life.
Groningen has a load of cultural sights, museums like the Groninger Museum, movie theatres, stages as the Stadsschouwburg and cultural center Oosterpoort. The outbound life is based especially around the Grote Markt and Vismarkt squares and Peperstraat.
Besides the night life Groningen is also known because of its shopping possibilities. Large parking lots at the edges of the city with public transport to the city centre and the main railway station within short distance make shopping in Groningen a popular occupation in the region.
In 2005, Groningen was called out to have the ‘Best downtown of Holland’. The city was praised by the jury for its hospitality, versatility, accessibility and safety. The prestigious title became a central part of the marketing campaign ‘Er gaat niets boven Groningen’ (there’s nothing better than Groningen).
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