Home page



What I know about Nijmegen NL

• Nijmegen stands upon a bit of a hill — an ice-age glacial "terminal morraine" — a stuwwal. There is about a 25-meter difference between the river and the highest point, more than 30 meters above sea-level.

• Nijmegen, on the south bank of the river Waal, is just a few kilometers from Holland's eastern border with Germany. The population of the city is about 150,000 people, which makes it the largest in the Gelderland province and the tenth-largest in The Netherlands.

• Nijmegen is the oldest city in The Netherlands, established by the Romans.

• There is a small remnant of the Roman Wall, most of which was recently destroyed for construction of the casino. You can still see a part of it behind glass if you walk through the automobile tunnel below the casino's parking lot.

• The name of the city derives from the Roman word for "new market," Noviomagus — so they say. Nijmegen was a part of the Roman empire for more than 400 years. Roman civilization extended to the "Great Rivers," the Rhine and its diverging branches. Trading crossed the rivers, but the empire never did.

• There is to this day a conceptual line between Catholic and Protestant, at the frontier to which Romans brought the church.

• One of the epithets of Nijmegen is Keizerstad, or "Emperor's City." Charlemagne had a palace here, according to legend. A former archivist for the city, the late Albert Delahaye, challenged this assumption, asserting that no evidence supports even the existence of people in the area during Carolingian times.

• Nijmegen was first accessible by train in 1865 — via the line that ran between here and the German city of Kleve. The medieval city wall, irrelevant in the age of cannon, had only recently been demolished. The city did not join the Dutch rail system until a few years later.

• Guitarist Eddie van Halen, born in 1955 in Amsterdam, lived as a child in Nijmegen.

• A large section of the old city was accidentally destroyed on February 22, 1944, by American bombers returning from a sortee into Germany. About 800 people died.

• On September 17-20, 1944, Allied forces battled to push back the Germans, who were holding Nijmegen, including the bridge across the Waal. This effort, called "Market Garden," was unsuccessful, and Nijmegen remained in German control for another half-year.

• A resistance fighter named Jan van Hoof saved the Nijmegen bridge. The Germans had set it with explosives, so as to blow it up on their retreat. Van Hoof sabotaged the ignition wires.

  I lived in Nijmegen from August of 2003 until January of 2005.