Hansa towns

Hansa Towns (Hanzesteden)

The Hanseatic League is also known as the Hansa towns was a commercial and defensive confederation of merchant guilds and their market towns. It started in the late 1100’s in from North German towns and for over three centuries the league dominated the trade along the coast of Northern Europe,

The league was created between over 200 cities to protect the economic interests and diplomatic privileges of the guilds in their affiliated cities and countries, as well as along the trade routes the merchants visited. They traded in mainly salt, grain, fish, wood, wine, beer, skins and cloths. The Hanseatic cities had their own legal system and furnished their own armies for mutual protection and aid.

Nowadays the Hanseatic cities are well known for their shopping possibilities along old historic streets, monumental houses and lovely squares. These cities are perfect for a one day visit during your holiday, every city has its own charm and identity.

In the Netherlands there are quite a number of Hansa Towns: Arnhem, Deventer, Doesburg, Elburg, Groningen, Harderwijk, Hasselt, Hattem, Kampen, Nijmegen, Oldenzaal, Ommen, Roermond, Stavoren, Tiel, Venlo, Zutphen and Zwolle. These cities became more rich and powerful during the Hanseatic league and the richest and most powerful became the town of Kampen. Ships who entered the IJssel had to pay toll.

In 2017 the Hanseatic League celebrated their annual Hanseatic days in Kampen.

Hansa Towns

  • Hasselt – located just above the city of Zwolle and joined the Hansa in 1367.
  • Kampen – due to the location at the Zuiderzee and at the river IJssel it was an important merchant city long before the city joined the Hansa in 1441.
  • Zwolle – located at the river Vecht and they (re-)joined the Hansa in 1407 (This city might joined the Hansa in 1272 because of their trade with Germany).
  • Hattem – located next to Zwolle at the IJssel river this city joined the Hansa in 1299.
  • Elburg – due to the proximity of Kampen this town joined the Hansa in 1367. This town was moved in the 13th century due to several floods.
  • Harderwijk joined the Hansa in 1280 already. The great location at the Zuiderzee made it an important town.
  • Deventer – is one of the oldest cities in the Netherlands. Since the late 8th century merchants trade in this area. In 1046 Deventer had already Toll right and munt right. It is one of my favorite cities in the Netherlands. The old city center is lovely to walk around and I love the book market at the first Sunday of August.
  • Zutphen – Also located at the river IJssel this town joined the Hansa from the 13th century. Zutphen has a very lovely skyline of historic and monumental buildings. It is also called City of tower.
  • Doesburg – located on the crossing of two rivers the IJssel and the Old IJssel this town joined the Hansa Towns in 1447. This town looks so monumental that many movies are shot here.

These Hansa town work together again since 1980 to form a new Hanseatic league not for trade but in cultural and touristic ways. There are a couple of more towns and cities that belong to the old Hansa Towns like:

  • Groningen – joined the league in 1463 and became the center of trade of the North of the Netherlands.
  • Nijmegen – Located along the Waal river and got its city rights in middle ages around 1230. Joined the Hansa Towns around 1402.
  • Oldenzaal – not located along the water this town had great roads towards the Hansa towns Osnabrück and Munster in Germany. They joined the Hansa in 1261.
  • Ommen – located at the Vecht river they joined the Hansa in 1473. 
  • Roermond – this city at the Maas river traded with cities Dinant, Luik en Namen in Belgium. They joined the Hansa towns in 1441.
  • Venlo – this city on the Maas river joined the Hansa fairly late in 1481.
  • Stavoren – this town was already an important trade city due to the locatie at the Zuiderzee. They joined the Hansa in 1385.

Photo credits: Tulips in Holland

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