Delft is a mid-sized city in the west of the Netherlands. It’s a beautiful, unspoiled town with traditional architecture, canals and bikes. It’s also home to the world famous blue and white ceramics. Delft makes a great destination for a day-trip or can serve as a base to explore the region. And if the bustling crowds of Amsterdam are not really your thing, Delft is a lovely alternative, offering an equally interesting insight into the cultural wealth of old “Holland”, on a far more intimate scale.
Delft is more than 750 years old. Its name is derived from ‘delven’ which means delve or digging. Delft’s oldest canal is called The Old Delft (de Oude Delft). Delft expanded around it; later on many other city-canals were dug as life lines through the city. These grachten are still the pride of Delft.
In 1246 Delft received city rights, granted by Holland’s Duke William II. Delft grew prosperous and new neighbourhoods were added to the city. In 1355 it reached the size it would remain at until the 1900s.
In 1536 a great fire destroyed 2300 houses. The most likely cause was lightning striking the tower of The New Church. About 100 years later, in 1654, an explosion destroyed large parts of town; a warehouse with 36 000 kg of gunpowder blew up. A new warehouse (Kruithuis) was later built, outside the city perimeter.
Delft has long been a centre of art and science. With the foundation of the VOC (Dutch East India Company) in 1602, Delft also became a trading center. The VOC was at one time the largest trading company in the world, with a huge fleet and offices all over Asia. One of the Dutch offices was in Delft.In 1842, the Royal Academy for Civil Engineering (Koninklijke Academie ter opleiding van Burgerlijke Ingenieurs) was founded. Now known as Delft University of Technology (TU Delft), it is Delft’s biggest employer. About 17,000 students study in Delft.