The Beautiful City: Groningen

Hello Reader,

Groningen is the largest city in the north of the Netherlands with almost 200,000 inhabitants. More than 1/4 of those inhabitants is student. This makes Groningen a vibrant and youthful city.



In the 13th century, Groningen was an important trade centre. However, the most influential period was the late 15th century. During these years the Martini Tower was built, which loomed over the city at (then) 127 metres. In 1614, the University of Groningen was founded. Around the same time the city rapidly expanded and a new city wall was built. This wall was tested in 1672, during the Third Anglo-Dutch War. The city walls resisted, an event that is still celebrated on the 28th of August with music and fireworks.

During the Second World War, the main square, de Grote Markt was destroyed in April 1945. However, some buildings such as the Martini Tower survived the battle that lasted several days.

University of Groningen


The University of Groningen (RUG) was founded in 1614. It is one of the oldest as well as one of the largest universities in the Netherlands. The RUG has also been voted Best University in the Netherlands multiple times over the years.

The RUG consists of 10 faculties, nine graduate schools, 27 research centres and institutes, and more than 175 degree programmes. The 10 faculties offer programmes and courses in the fields of Humanities, Social Sciences, Law, Economics and Business, Spatial Sciences, Life Sciences, and Natural Sciences and Technology.

Some facts:

  • In 2013–2014, the University of Groningen ranked 98th in the Times Higher Education World University Rankings
  • The University of Groningen is in the top 3 of European research universities in the fields of: Ecology, Material Sciences, Chemistry and Astronomy. Other strong research groups are in: Nanoscience, Physics, Molecular Biology, Microbiology, Medical Sciences, Neurosciences, Sociology, Philosophy, Theology, Archaeology and Arts.
  • 49 bachelor’s and 146 master’s degree programmes
  • 19 bachelor’s degree programmes are taught in English
  • 101 master’s degree programmes (of which 10 double degree programmes) are taught in English
  • Aletta Jacobs was the first woman to go to a Dutch University in the Netherlands. She went to the RUG and  was the first female physician in the Netherlands.



Groningen has a vibrant nightlife due to the large number of students.  In particular, the Grote Markt, the Vismarkt, the Poelestraat and Peperstraat are crowded every night of the week, and most bars do not close until 5 in the morning. Between 2005 and 2007, Groningen was elected “de beste binnenstad” (the best city centre) of the Netherlands.



Groningen is known for its bicycles. It has been called the “World City City” because more than 57% of journeys within the city are made by bike. Groningen is well adapted to the high number of cyclists with a large network of paths.

The city is very much adapted to the wishes of those who want to get around without a car, as it has an extensive network of segregated cycle-paths, good public transport, and a large pedestrianised zone in the city centre. The transformation of the historic centre into a pedestrian priority zone enables and invites walking and biking by making these active modes of transport comfortable, safe and enjoyable.

I hope this is enough information for now!

Seasonal Greetings,


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