—  Municipality  —
The landmark lighthouse in Noordwijk


Coat of arms
Coordinates: 52°14′N 4°27′E / 52.24°N 4.45°E / 52.24; 4.45Coordinates: 52°14′N 4°27′E / 52.24°N 4.45°E / 52.24; 4.45
Country Netherlands
Province South Holland
 - Total 51.53 km2 (19.9 sq mi)
 - Land 35.41 km2 (13.7 sq mi)
 - Water 16.12 km2 (6.2 sq mi)
Population (1 January 2007)
 - Total 24,727
 - Density 698/km2 (1,807.8/sq mi)
  Source: CBS, Statline.
Time zone CET (UTC+1)
 - Summer (DST) CEST (UTC+2)

Noordwijk (Dutch pronunciation: [ˈnoːrtʋɛi̯k] ( listen)) is a town and municipality in the western Netherlands, in the province of South Holland. The municipality covers an area of 51.53 km² (of which 16.12 km² water) and had a population of 24,707 in May 2006.

The municipality of Noordwijk consists of the communities Noordwijk aan Zee and Noordwijk-Binnen, separated by a narrow green belt.

Besides its beaches, Noordwijk is also known for its bulb flower fields. It is located in an area called the "Dune and Bulb Region" (Duin- en Bollenstreek).

Noordwijk is also the location of the headquarters for the European Space Research and Technology Centre (ESTEC), part of the European Space Agency (ESA). ESA's visitors' centre Space Expo is a permanent space exhibition.


Noordwijk aan Zee

Kitesurfing is a popular activity in Noordwijk beaches

Noordwijk aan Zee was founded around 1200 as a fishing village. Until the beginning of the 19th century, fishing remained its primary business, but then began to be replaced by the growing tourism industry. Nowadays because of its long sandy beaches, it is a popular resort town with 1,000,000 overnight stays per year.

Noordwijk aan Zee is rated as the 12th richest location in the Netherlands.


Because of the martyrdom of Priest Jeroen in 857, the Archbishop of Utrecht made Noordwijk-Binnen a pilgrimage location in 1429. Both the Catholic and Protestant churches here are named after the priest.

The area around Noordwijk-Binnen has long been an important part of the regional bulb flower industry. The dunes were dug out and transformed into fields for the cultivation of bulb flowers.

Noordwijk-Binnen has retained its historic character and is therefore protected by the Dutch Monument Law.

Noordwijk-Binnen was especially characterized in former times by the work in the flower bulb cultivation. The territory of Noordwijk still exists for a large part from spirit grounds. Together with surrounding municipalities, the bulb region is formed. Noordwijk aan Zee was founded around 1200 as a fishing village. Until the beginning of the 19th century, fishing remained its primary business, but then began to be replaced by the growing tourism industry. Nowadays because of its long sandy beaches, it is a popular resort in town with 1,000,000 overnight stays per year. Noordwijk aan Zee has a lighthouse and a KNRM rescue station. Furthermore, Noordwijk aan Zee has a reformed church (1647) with a pulpit from the 17th century.

Noordwijk aan Zee is rated as the 12th richest location in the Netherlands. Beer magnate Freddy Heineken has built a villa with the characteristic green roof. A small part of the indigenous population of Noordwijk aan Zee speaks Noordwijks, a very original Dutch dialect.

Noordwijk facts

• ± 25,000 inhabitants

• 13 km coast line

• 25 km from Amsterdam

• 25 km from Schiphol airport

• 20 km from The Hague

• 40 km from Rotterdam Airport

• 14 camp sites in the region

• ± 1 million overnight stays per year

• Number of hotels/B&B beds: ± 3,400

• No. 2 congress destination in The Netherlands

• ± 251 international congresses per year

• Home to the ESA/ESTEC (European Space Research and Technology Centre)


A place of pilgrimage Noordwijk’s history dates back to 2000 BC. This is when the first traces of inhabitants were recorded, with the torture of Jeroen the priest in 857. Jeroen, a Scottish Benedictine monk who came to Noordwijk in 847 to carry out his mission work and build a chapel, could have been the first priest of Noordwijk. His life came to an abrupt end in 857 when he was beheaded by ransacking Normans. His name lived on however, as more than a hundred years later in 980 a Roman chapel was built in his honour. This chapel became a popular destination for pilgrims. In 1303 a large stone church was built on the site of the chapel, known as the Middle Aged gothic Great Church, or Sint Jeroen’s. Sint Jeroen’s skull served as an important relic. Noordwijk soon became known as a place of pilgrimage, which was officially confirmed by the Bishop of Utrecht in 1429. Sint Jeroen’s church developed over time into a pilgrims’ church, which provided Noordwijk with a considerable income. However, the 80 years war put an end to this. Only by paying a substantial sum to William of Orange’s army could the church be saved during the Iconoclastic Fury of 1566.[citation needed] To be on the safe side however, all Catholic objects were removed from the church; including the most important relic, Sint Jeroen’s skull. Tradition has it that his head lies buried somewhere in the church, but nobody knows exactly where. Towards the end of 1800 a new Roman Catholic church was erected in honour of Sint Jeroen. To this day the church’s altar houses the skeletal remains of Sint Jeroen.

Fishermen The first inhabitants of Noordwijk were most likely fishermen. The first “vierboet” was built in 1444, on the site of the current Grand Hotel Huis ter Duin. A “vierboet” is a fire site on a hill for helping the fishermen find their way back to the beach at night. Back in 1474 Noordwijk had an extensive fleet of 38 large & small ships, which left from the beach as there was no harbour. They caught herring, cod, haddock, whiting and plaice.

Bulb exhibitions Bulb cultivation emerged as the successor to herb cultivation. From 1880 the number of bulb growers and bulb fields grew to 250 and 252 hectares respectively, by the end of the 19th century. Tulips, daffodils and gladioli were grown, amongst other flowers. The majority of bulb fields lie behind the dunes as the sandy soil there is extremely suitable for cultivation. Noordwijk earned a national and international reputation for its impressive bulb exhibitions. In 1932 a Flora park was set up within the Offem country estate. Furthermore, Noordwijk entries could be admired at foreign bulb exhibitions and subsequently also in the flower exhibitions. Today the Noordwijk bulb area covers 311 hectares of land.

Floral seaside resort of Europe Noordwijk didn’t become a seaside resort until 1866. This was the time when seaside trips were only for the rich elite, and beach outings were very much a chic affair. Sea water was believed to have a cleansing effect. Not long after this, work started on the Grand Hotel Huis ter Duin. With the arrival of the steam tram, a visit to the seaside became a possibility for many holiday makers. The unique combination of the beach and the colourful fields of flowers ensured that Noordwijk blossomed into the ‘floral seaside resort of Europe’.

‘Zeeër’ or ‘Binder’ There have always been notable differences between coastal Noordwijk aan Zee and inland Noordwijk-Binnen. In days gone by this was due to religious and occupational differences, which were easily maintained due to the geographical differences. Noordwijk aan Zee inhabitants were by origin fishermen, with a Protestant background. The primary occupation within Noordwijk-Binnen was bulb cultivation, with Roman-Catholicism being the predominant faith. During the 80 years war (1568-1648) some of the ‘Geuzen’ (Protestant rebels) were from Protestant Noordwijk aan Zee. This area suffered under the Spaniards, whilst Catholic Noordwijk-Binnen was spared. This discrimination continued, and not just in a religious sense. Whilst the coastal dwelling ‘Zeeër’ fished for a living, the inland ‘Binder’ cultivated herbs and later bulbs. Until the start of the 20th century Noordwijk had a small fleet of barges at its disposal, which departed from the beach as there was no harbour. In the 19th century Noordwijk developed into a seaside resort. To this day the notion of being either a Zeeër or Binder continues, especially amongst the older generation.

See also

External links

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