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Leeuwarden

Leeuwarden is the capital city of the Dutch province of Friesland. It is situated in the northern part of the country.

 History
Historical map of LeeuwardenThe area has been occupied since the 10th century (although recently, remains of houses dating back to the 2nd century AD were discovered during a dig near the Oldehove), and was granted a town charter in 1435. Situated along the Middelzee, it was an active trade centre, until the waterway silted up in the 15th century. In 1901 the city had a population of 32,203.

Famous natives of Leeuwarden include stadtholder William IV of Orange, graphic artist M. C. Escher, and dancer-spy Mata Hari, as well as the theologian Dr. N.H. Gootjes.
Citizens of Leeuwarden welcoming units of the Canadian Army, 16 April 1945

During World War II, after extensive occupation by the German forces, on 15 April 1945, the Royal Canadian Dragoons, disobeying direct orders, charged into the heavily defended city and defeated the Germans, who were driven out by the next day.

Etymology
The name "Leeuwarden" (or old spelling variants) first came into use for Nijehove, the most important one of the three villages that later merged into one, in the early 9th century (Villa Lintarwrde' c. 825).

There is much uncertainty about the origin of the city's name. Historian and archivist Wopke Eekhoff summed up a total of over 200 different spelling variants, of which Leeuwarden (Dutch), Liwwadden (Stadsfries) and Ljouwert (West Frisian) are still in use.

The second syllable is easily explained. "Warden", Frisian/Dutch for an artificial dwelling hill, is a designation of a few terps, in accordance with the historical situation. The problem is the prefix, which could be interpreted as leeu- or 'leeuw-' (Dutch for lion). Some scholars believe the latter to be true, for a lion is also found in the city's coat of arms. For this to be so, however, an extra "w" would be required. Other scholars argue the name came from the prefix leeu-, a corruption of luw- (Dutch for sheltered) or lee- (a Dutch denotion of a water circulation). The last one suits the watery province of Fryslân.

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