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Groningen (, also , ,Dutch: ['?ro:n(n)] ; Gronings: Grunn or Grunnen) is the capital city and main municipality of Groningen province in the Netherlands. It is the largest city in the north of the Netherlands. As of December 2020, it had 233,218 inhabitants. It has a land area of 168.93 km2 (65.22 sq mi), and a total area, including water, of 180.21 km2 (69.58 sq mi). Its population density is 1,367 residents per km2 (3,540 per square mile). On 1 January 2019, it was merged with the municipalities of Ten Boer and Haren. The Groningen-Assen metropolitan area has about half a million inhabitants. Groningen is a university city, and students comprise an estimated 25% of its total population. Groningen was established more than 950 years ago. Historically, it was a semi-independent city-state, a member of the German Hanseatic League, and the dominant regional power in the north of the Netherlands.
The origin and meaning of 'Groningen' and its older variant, 'Groeningen', are uncertain. A folk origin story relates the idea that, in 453 BC, exiles from Troy who were guided by a mythical figure called Gruno (or Grunius, Gryns or Grunus), along with a group of Phrygians from Germany, founded a settlement in what is now Groningen, and built a castle on the bank of the Hunze [nl], which they called 'Grunoburg', and which was later destroyed by the Vikings.
One modern theory is that 'Groningen' meant 'among the people of Groni' ('Groningi' and 'Groninga' in the 11th century), derived from Gronesbeke, which was the old name for a small lake near the Hunze (on the northern border of Zuidlaarderveen). Another theory is that the name was derived from the word groenighe, meaning 'green fields'.
During the French occupation of the area, Groningen was called Groningue. In Frisian, it is called Grins. In Gronigen province, it is called Groot Loug [nl]. Regionally, it is often simply referred to as the Stad (the "city"), and its inhabitants are referred to as Stadjers or Stadjeder. Netherlanders often refer to it as "the Metropolis of the North", or Martinistad (after Martinitoren tower.
The city was founded at the northernmost point of the Hondsrug area. While the oldest document referring to Groningen's existence dates from 1040, the city was occupied by Anglo-Saxons centuries prior. The oldest archaeological evidence of a civilization in the region stem from around 3950-3650 BC, and the first major settlement in Groningen trace back to the year 3 AD.
In the 13th century Groningen was an important trade centre and its inhabitants built a city wall to underline its authority. The city had a strong influence on its surrounding lands and the Gronings dialect became a common tongue. The most influential period of the city was at the end of the 15th century, when the nearby province of Friesland was administered from Groningen. During these years the Martinitoren was built which is considered to be the city's most significant landmark.
Groningen has an oceanic temperate climate, like all of the Netherlands, although slightly colder in winter than other major cities in the Netherlands due to its northeasterly position. Weather is influenced by the North Sea to the north-west and its prevailing north-western winds and gales.
Summers are somewhat warm and humid. Temperatures of 30 °C (86 °F) or higher occur sporadically; the average daytime high is around 22 °C (72 °F). Very rainy periods are common, especially in spring and summer. Average annual precipitation is about 800 mm (31 in). Annual sunshine hours vary, but are usually below 1600 hours, giving much cloud cover similar to most of the Netherlands. Climate in this area has mild differences between highs and lows, and there is adequate rainfall year-round. The Köppen Climate Classification subtype for this climate is "Cfb". (Marine West Coast Climate/Oceanic climate).
Winters are cool; on average above freezing, although frosts are common during spells of easterly winds. Night-time temperatures of -10 °C (14 °F) or lower are not uncommon during cold winter periods. The lowest temperature ever recorded is -26.8 °C (-16.2 °F) on 16 February 1956. Snow often falls, but rarely stays long due to warmer daytime temperatures, although white snowy days happen every winter.
Hotel and catering industries constitute a significant part of the economy in Groningen. Focus on business services has increased over time and areas such as IT, life sciences, tourism, energy, and environment have developed.
The municipality of Groningen has grown rapidly. In 1968 it expanded by mergers with Hoogkerk and Noorddijk, and in 2019 it merged with Haren and Ten Boer.
All historical data are for the original city limits, excluding Hoogkerk, Noorddijk, Haren and Ten Boer.
Groningen is nationally known as the "Metropolis of the North". The city is regarded as the main urban centre of the Northern part of the country, particularly in the fields of education, business, music and other arts. It is also known as "Martinistad", referring to the tower of the Martinitoren, which is named after Groningen's patron saintMartin of Tours. The large number its student population also contribute to a diverse cultural scene for a city of its size.
Since 2016 Groningen has been host of the International Cycling Film Festival--an annual film festival for bicycle related films. It takes place in the art house cinema of the old Roman Catholic Hospital.
Groningen is home to the Groninger Museum. Its new building designed by Alessandro Mendini in 1994 echoes the Italian post-modern concepts and is notable for its futuristic and colourful style. The city has a maritime museum, a university museum, a comics museum and a graphics museum. Groningen is also the home of Noorderlicht, an international photographic platform that runs a photo gallery and organizes an international photo festival. The Forum Groningen that opened in 2019 is a cultural center consisting of a museum, art cinema, library, bars, rooftop terrace and tourist information office.
Theatre and music
Theatre building Groningen
Groningen has a city theatre called the Stadsschouwburg, located on the Turfsingel, a theatre and concert venue called Martini Plaza, and a cultural venue on the Trompsingel, called the Oosterpoort. Vera is located on the Oosterstraat, the Grand Theatre on the Grote Markt, and Simplon on the Boterdiep. Several cafés feature live music, a few of which specialize in jazz music, including the Jazzcafe De Spieghel on the Peperstraat. Groningen is the host city for Eurosonic Noorderslag, an annual music showcase event for bands from Europe.
Groningen's nightlife depends largely on its student population. Its cultural scene is regarded as vibrant and remarkable for a city of its size. In particular, the Grote Markt, the Vismarkt, the Poelestraat and Peperstraat are crowded every night, and most bars do not close until five in the morning. From 2005 to 2007, Groningen was named "best city centre" of the Netherlands. Groningen has a red-light district, called Nieuwstad.
The Hanze University of Applied Sciences (in Dutch: Hanzehogeschool Groningen) was founded in 1986 and is more focused on the practical application of knowledge, offering bachelor and master courses in fields like Electrical and Electronic Engineering, Communication and Multimedia Design, and Renewable Energy. With around 8.1% international students, Hanze hosts more than 28,000 students and is one of the largest universities of applied sciences by enrollment in the Netherlands.
Groningen is known as the "World Cycling City"; around 57% of its residents use a bicycle for regular commute within the city. In 2000, Groningen was chosen as the Fietsstad 2002, the top cycle-city in the Netherlands for 2002. Similar to most Dutch cities, Groningen is developed to accommodate a large number of cyclists. An extensive network of bike paths were planned to make it more convenient to cycle to various destinations instead of taking a car.
The city has segregated cycle-paths, public transport, and a large pedestrianised zone in the city centre. Groningen's city centre was remodeled into a "pedestrian priority zone" to promote walking and biking. This was achieved by applying the principle of filtered permeability--the network configuration favours active transportation and selectively "filters out" traveling in a car by reducing the number of streets that run through the centre. The streets that are discontinuous for cars connect to a network of pedestrian and bike paths which permeate the entire centre. In addition, these paths go through public squares and open spaces, increasing the aesthetic appeal of the trip and encouraging more participation. The logic of filtering a mode of transport is fully expressed in a comprehensive model for laying out neighbourhoods and districts--the fused grid.