Zutphen has existed since the Roman times and received its city rights around 1190, making it one of the oldest medieval cities in the Netherlands. (Only Utrecht, and Deventer preceded it in receiving town rights.) It's located in the center-eastern part of the country and is only a 2 - 2 1/2 hour train ride from Amsterdam. An easy day trip to see a city voted "Best City Center in the Netherlands for small cities" (2006).
Around 300 AD a Germanic settlement became the first permanent town in the area. the location of the town by the IJssel and Berkel helped it not only to thrive and prosper. Following an attack by the Normans in 882, a circular fortress was built. Parts of this fortress are still visible to this very day!
In the 11th century, when Zutphen was a royal residence, St. Walburga’s Church was built. This church is still standing. It even houses a public library from the 16th century. It is considered one of only 5 remaining medieval libraries in Europe.
And if you're really lucky like we were, you may even get to go up inside the bell tower and ring the bells!
Having been so well fortified, the town withstood several sieges throughout history. During World War II, the town was heavily bombed due to the vitalness of the bridge over the IJssel. However, the old city center survived almost in its entirety. After the war, the town underwent renovation making it what it is today; one of the best preserved medieval town centers in Europe!
Visiting Zutphen Now
Zutphen is a flourishing modern city. With a population of about 51,000, you can find all of the conveniences of modern life. It is easy to get to by train, bus, or car and has some of the friendliest residents that you'll ever meet!