Delft is a compact, historic town between Rotterdam and The Hague in the province of South-Holland. It forms part of the ‘Randstad’, the urban agglomeration in the western part of the Netherlands and is one of the nation’s main educational and research centres. Today, it revels in the descriptive ‘High-tech’ due to the abundance of technology-based institutions and organisations close to and often involved with the university. Mainly built on reclaimed marsh land, a ‘polder’ area, Delft borders the agricultural centre of the Randstad.
Delft is more than 900 years old. The city owes its name to the word 'delven', digging. In around 1100 a local river was widened by hand to enable better drainage of the surrounding farmland. Thus the oldest and still existing canal was formed: the Oude Delft (Old Delft). In 1246, Delft received its city franchise from the Dutch Earl Willem II. Delft flourished and new neighbourhoods were added. As early as 1355 the city reached the size it would remain until the 19th century.
During the country’s war of independence against Spain in the 16th and 17th centuries, Delft was important. It was the residence of William of Orange whose presence gave Delft its nickname: ‘Prinsenstad’ (the Prince’s City). Until the 18th century, Delft was a major industrial, cultural and scientific centre. Check the picture of the map below, owned by the TU Delft library! Delft’s beer was famous, as was its Delft blue pottery Many world-renowned painters like Johannes Vermeer Jan Steen and Karel Fabritius lived and worked in Delft. Delft was also the home town of scientist Antoni van Leeuwenhoek, inventor of the microscope.
Because of the constant wars with France and England in the 17th and 18th centuries, trade and industry declined in Delft. But this began to change in 1842, with the establishment of the Royal Academy for the training of civil engineers, later to become TU Delft. The presence of this institute was a strong stimulus to the revival of the industry and thus the importance of Delft. Its population grew fast. New neighbourhoods were built, and university buildings and faculties were relocated from the centre and concentrated in the new TU area. But despite wars and rapid population growth, the old centre of Delft has remained almost completely intact. An ambitious restoration programme has further conserved its old splendour, which attracts many tourists. They, along with the university’s 14.000 students, make Delft a lively and pleasant place.
Of almost all of the different building styles through the ages, you will find traces on the facades of Delft buildings. The glorious past of the city comes alive in it's great number of monuments, churches and monasteries and typical Dutch almshouses.
William of Orange, the “father” of the Netherlands, Delft Blue a world brand and masters in innovation. Delft is creating history. Discover Delft in a beautiful monumental building.
Het Vermeer Centrum Delft offers an exploration through the live, work and city of Dutch master Johannes Vermeer. Step into the 17th century and look at the images of his entire work and listen to the stories behind the world renowned paintings.
Royal Delft, founded in 1653, is the only remnant Delft ceramics factory from the 17th century. You may discover the world of Delft Blue and you can watch how it is still authentically produced in the 21st century.
In 1383 they started building the New Church, which is inextricably associated with the Dutch Royal family. Since William of Orange all members of the royal family have been buried in the royal burial vaults in the New Church. The extraordinary beautiful grave monument of the “Father of the Fatherland” can be admired in this church.
The beginning of the oldest church of Delft traces back to the early middle ages. Round 1050 within the settlement along the “Delf” a small tuff church (12x30 meters) was found. In 1240 the church was expanded with two aisles and a choir. In 1246 Delft received city rights which is also the official “year of birth” of the Old Church.
Delft city hall is situated on the market square across from the New Church. The first building dates back to 1200 after it was renovated in 1400d. In March 1618 it burned down in a large city fire after which it was rebuild by a design of Hendrick de Keyser, an example of Dutch renaissance.
The botanical garden of the Technical University is an oasis of calm, smell, colour and quiet. It houses a voluminous collection of technical plants. Discover the world of spices, (sub)tropical fruits and organic resources.
The Science Centre is part of the Technical University and is located in the building of the old Mining Faculty from 1911. This centre shows the position of technology and science in the society. It is an exciting quest that has not ended yet, just like science.Canal Cruises Delft
During a 45 minute canal cruise in the beautiful Delft canals, you get to know Delft a bit better with a view from a completely different angle. You navigate along old patrician houses, historical sites and underneath old arched bridges.
Read more about the history of Delft on Wikipedia or take a look at the website of the municipality.