Candidate: Amersfoort
Location: Netherlands
Category: The European City of the Year Award (Winner)
Year: 2023

Other finalists in this category: Estepona, Spain and Exeter, England

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Judges' comments:

“Amersfoort benefits from a shared a long-term vision for the city which prioritises improving citizens’ quality of life. Well-resourced forward planning, development control, and regeneration teams enable this vision through detailed policies and impressive new infrastructure, while maintaining its unique heritage and character. The wellbeing and happiness of all of citizens is clearly the focus, from moves to limit car access to the historic city centre, to the provision of diverse and good quality affordable homes.” - Jon Phipps AoU, European City Co-Lead Assessor


Amersfoort is located at the heart of the Netherlands. The brass ‘X’ embedded into the brick paving outside the Our Lady’s Tower in the heart of the historic old town is literally the geographic centre of the country (155,000 X, 463,000 Y).

Amersfoort originated in the 13th century at the point where a ford crossed the River Eem. The city developed slowly through the Middle Ages however, growth was stimulated when a miracle led to Amersfoort becoming a pilgrimage centre.

The arrival of the railways in 1863 resulted in the rapid transformation of Amersfoort from a small provincial town into a major transport and industrial centre. Some of the sites associated with railways and manufacturing within the city are now helping to provide brownfield land for a new generation of mixed-use developments.

Curiously for the 15th largest city in the Netherlands, with a population of just over 160,000, Amersfoort does not have either a football club or a university. These types of institutions often contribute to a sense of civic pride. Instead, Amersfoort provides an inclusive, attractive, and progressive place with no shortage of citizen focused sports, education, and culture.

Thumbnail illustration of Amersfoort by David Rudlin AoU, Artist-in-Residence

The Academy of Urbanism (Number 2) Limited is a not-for-profit organisation limited by guarantee registered in England and Wales 0595604, 11c Milton Road, Cambridge CB4 IXE, United Kingdom.
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