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Stop the water flow in Woerden centre

Rijnstraat Woerden measures Rhine water-veritasvisit

One of Holland’s biggest attractions are the canals. Amsterdam has more than 100 kilometers of canals and is dubbed ‘Venice of the North’, o no, wait, that is the picturesque town of Giethoorn. These canals that you might enjoy while on a boat tour through the canals of one of our Dutch cities, have a dark side to them. And Woerden took its measures to stop this dark side to come to light.

Rijnstraat Woerden 1929. Copyright: verhalenvanwoerden.nl
Rijnstraat Woerden 1929. Copyright: verhalenvanwoerden.nl

when floodings aren’t your biggest problem

Every now and then it rains in the Netherlands. Heavily. Then  water flows through streets and tunnels. Water flows where no one wants it to flow. Even canals, made to ‘steer the water in the right direction’ at times just overflow.   But in Woerden that wasn’t the biggest problem.

the time the rhine made people sick

It was 1866. The poor drank from the ditches and the river Rhine. The same river in which they and many others did their laundry and their needs. Then cholera broke out. The disease spread through the city and took an enormous amount of lives. The Rhine, which was flowing through the city centre, was heavily polluted and smelled ghastly. A group of Woerden citizens formed a group and pleaded the city council to close the Rhine canal that ran through the city. There was no response. Until the 1950’s.

The Street of Rhine, a Goldmine

In the 1950’s the city council suddenly agreed with the citizens. The Old Rhine was causing health- and safety problems. Their idea was to close the canal, break down the century old bridges and construct a lively shopping street where cars could go through. Woerden’s main street would never be the same.

Let the Rhine Flow through the street

In the late 1970’s voices were raised. Some citizens started missing the historical bridges and the sound of the Rhine flowing through the city centre.

Rijnstraat Woerden in 2016. Copyright: Landlab
Rijnstraat Woerden in 2016. Copyright: Landlab

In 2016, on a Saturday morning,  I walk through the Rijnstraat, the shopping street of Woerden and am pleasantly surprised. First I hear the sound of flowing water and then I see water, a small stream of Rhine water.

There is more to see, hear, taste, feel in Woerden. Let all your senses come to life in this city in the Culture & Cheese Tour Woerden.  Saturday 2 July 2016.


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