Visit Holland - The Netherlands

Assen in Drenthe

Assen is a municipality and a city in the northeastern Netherlands, and is the capital of the province of Drenthe. It received city rights in 1809.

Assen's main claim to fame is the TT Circuit Assen the motorcycle racing circuit, where on the last Saturday in June the Dutch TT is run. Assen has a railway station: Assen railway station.

History
Drents MuseumThe history of the capital of Drenthe can be traced back to at least 1258, when a new location had to be found for the Maria in Campis convent, which had originally been built near Coevorden as a penalty for the slaughter in 1227 of the army of the Bishop of Utrecht at the hands of Drenthe's peasants, in what has come to be known as the Battle of Ane – a battle, incidentally, in which the bishop was killed. His successor ordered the convent to be built as a penalty. As this convent was located in a barren peat area, which also happened to flood from time to time, a better location had to be found. A better and especially dryer spot for the Cistercian convent was found in an area known as Witten, where at the time only a few farms were located. Around it were village communities like Deurze, Witten en Peelo. The latter has a history which goes back to the times from when Dolmens were built, but is presently situated between two new districts of Assen. The "relocated" convent probably was erected in the 1260s, and over the centuries Assen developed around it.

The convent was built at what now is the Brink (i.e. the grassy area which serves as a symbolic municipal centre) of Assen. At the location of the convent now stands the Drents Museum, which was built in 1882 as provinciehuis (i.e. the residence of provincial government). Only the Abdijkerk (Abbey Church), the convent grounds, and bits and pieces of walls remind us of the religious beginnings of the city.

City Rights
Assen currently has about 65,000 inhabitants, but it only got a real city scope after World War II. But it has been an official city since 1809. After Coevorden, then a village of about sixteen hundred people, Assen became the second place in Drenthe with city rights, granted by King Lodewijk Napoleon, who had big plans with the village. A plan to make it a real city was set up at the time, but unfortunately for Assen, the Kingdom of the Netherlands was incorporated with France of Napoleon Bonaparte and the plans were abandoned.

As administrative centre, Assen attracted well-to-do inhabitants and with that also new enterprises and initiatives, these contributed to slow but steady increase of commerce, wealth and new establishments; such as a newspaper printing in 1823, a Latin school in 1825, a postal service on Groningen in 1830, a court in 1840, a first beginning for a garrison in 1852 and a railway station in 1870. Another major achievement was the Drentse Hoofdvaart (Canal)which was used for transporting peat and other goods. (On either side of the canal, stately homes were built by the initiators) and the opening of the Noord-Willemskanaal (North-Willems canal) in 1861. The most important monuments of the city are from the nineteenth century.

Tourism and attractions
The TT Circuit Assen is one of the most famous motorcycle racing circuits in the world and is the only circuit that has been in the MotoGP calendar since its beginnings in 1949. It is also regarded as the "Cathedral of Motorcycle Racing."

In November of each year Assen becomes the centre of international attention for the world of Ballroom and Latin American dancers when the city hosts the Assen Dance Festival which includes the "Dutch Open Championships." This is an open event for dancers from all countries and all dance bodies and a magnet for those who are or aspire to be "the best."

Assen is also the capital of the "cycling province" of the Netherlands, Drenthe. There are many high quality cycle paths in the city and surroundings and it is host to regular cycling events such as the Drentse fietsvierdaagse and the Jeugdtour. In 2009 the prologue and opening stage of the Vuelta a España took place in Assen.

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