This surprising Netherlands city was just crowned European City of the Year

The winner was praised for its quality of life and innovative urban planning

Liv Kelly
Written by
Liv Kelly
Contributing Writer
Amersfoort, Netherlands
Photograph: Shutterstock

‘European City of the Year’ is quite the prestigious title, and it’s just been bestowed on a relatively small Dutch city, all thanks to its innovative design. 

The awards are given out by the Academy of Urbanism in London, and this year, they’ve named Amersfoort as the winner. The Dutch city is located in the Utrecht province and is home to around 160,000 people. 

Known mostly for its surviving mediaeval old town and famous city gate, it’s a great alternative to fill that canal craving in a Dutch city much less crowded than Amsterdam. When it was built, it was also the official middle point of the country, which is pinpointed by the Onze-Lieve-Vrouwe church tower.

But why did this little-known place win such a prestigious title? Well, Amersfoort may be on the smaller side, but in terms of urban development and sustainability, it’s pretty mighty. 

The Academy is made up of scientists, politicians and specialists, and a delegation was sent to Amersfoort in September to assess it. They evaluated sustainability and urban planning, but also how well the city is managed. 

Amersfoort was praised for its success at innovative design, maintaining character and heritage and its great quality of life. The city has achieved all this by limiting car use and offering a bounty of affordable housing. 

With all those perks of functionality and sustainability, plus the quaint mediaeval streets, pretty canals and vibrant squares, it sounds like this award was well-deserved. 

For more on the lovely towns of the Netherlands, have a look at our hubs for Amsterdam or Rotterdam, or check out this list of seven fabulous Dutch cities

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