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  1. Plural of as#Dutch|as

Extensive Definition

Assen () is a municipality and a city in the north eastern Netherlands, capital of the province of Drenthe.


Assen received city rights in 1809.
Assen's main claim to fame is the TT Circuit Assen the motorcycle racing circuit, where on the last Saturday in June the Dutch TT is run.
In November of each year Assen becomes the centre of international attention for the world of Ballroom and Latin American dancers when the city hosts the Assen Dance Festival which includes the "Dutch Open Championships". This is an Open event for dancers from all countries and all dance bodies and a magnet for those who are or aspire to be "the best".
Assen is also the capital of the "Cycling Province" of the Netherlands, Drenthe.


The history of the capital of Drenthe can be traced back to at least 1258, when a new location had to be found for the Maria in Campis monastery, which was originally built near Coevorden as a penalty for the slaughter -in 1227- of the army of the Bishop of Utrecht at the hands of Drenthe's peasants, in what has come to be known as the Battle of Ane. A battle, incidentally, in which the Bishop was killed. His successor ordered the monastery to be built as a penalty. As this monastery was located in a barren peat area, which also happened to flood from time to time, a better location had to be found. A better and especially dryer spot for the Cistercian monastery was found in an area known as Witten, where at the time only a few farms were located. Around it were village communities like Deurze, Witten en Peelo. The latter has a history which goes back to the times from when Dolmens were built, but is presently situated between two new districts of Assen. The 'relocated' monastery probably was erected in the 1260s, and over the centuries Assen developed around it.


The monastery was built at what now is the Brink (i.e. grassy area which serves as a symbolic municipal centre) of Assen. At the locations of the monastery now stands the Drents Museum, which was built in 1882 as 'provinciehuis' (i.e. the residence of provincial government). Only the Abdijkerk (Abbey church), monastery terrain and bits and pieces of walls remind us of the religious beginnings of the city.

Coat of Arms

The Coat of Arms is directly borrowed from the seal of the monastry. Just like the coat of arms of the province of Drenthe - in both cases Mary with child - but Jesus switches knee. At the same time it tells you how the history of the city is connected with the provincial governing board. Which has to do with the fact that around 1600 the abbeygoods were secularised. Maria in Campis no longer existed, but the buildings did. Because of the central position of Assen and the fact that the government from what was then called 'de Landschap Drenthe' (the Landscape Drenthe) was searching for a location for the government and civil servants, Assen became seat for, and basically also capital of Drenthe.

'Drents Haagje'

Assen really wasn't a municipality yet, not even ecclesiastical sense. Even though there was an abbey church, Assen fell ecclesiastically and administratively under Rolde. In 1615 Assen got its own preacher. In 1807 Assen administratively freed itself from the control of Rolde when the village got to establish its own municipal authorities. A municipal authority which moreover in most cases operated in the shadow of the provincial government, which always manifested itself prominent in the 'Drentse Haagje'. The municipal authority mainly got there because of matter of provincial governors like governor Petrus Hofstede ,to which the city also thanks its uniquely located park (in the center of the city). From that time Assen also obtained its significant nickname, 'het Herenbolwerk'.

City Rights

Assen currently has about 65.000 inhabitants, but it only got a real city scope after World War II. But it has been an official city since 1809. After Coevorden, the then village of about sixteen hundred souls became the second place in Drenthe with city rights, granted by King Lodewijk Napoleon, who had big plans with the village. A plan to make it a real city was set up at the time, but unfortunately for Assen, the Kingdom of the Netherlands got incorporated with France of Napoleon Bonaparte and the plans were abandoned.
As administrative centre, Assen attracted well-to-do inhabitants and with that also new enterprises and initiatives, these contributed to slow but steady increase of commerce, wealth and new establishments; such as a newspaper printing in 1823, a Latin school in 1825, a postal service on Groningen in 1830, a court in 1840, a first beginning for a garrison in 1852 and a railway station in 1870. Another major achievement was the Drentse Hoofdvaart (Canal)which was used for transporting peat and other goods. (On either side of the canal, stately homes were built by the initiators) and the opening of the Noord-Willemskanaal (North-Willems canal) in 1861. The most important monuments of the city are from the nineteenth century.


Around the 1900 Assen began to play a more prominent industrial role. It was originally a centre of civil servants, but the establishment of a slaughter house, dairy factory and iron foundry created more diverse expansion opportunities and encouraged growth. Around 1930 Assen became a central point for health care in the province, by establishing various psychiatric hospitals and healthcare centres.


After WWII, Assen didn't have more than 20.000 inhabitants. The Assen TT made the city more known, but only because of the indication as an industry core at the end of the 50's came the speed. The 'Nederlands Aardolie Maatschappij' (Dutch Oil Company) established itself in the city and with that, a trend was set, which has since continued. Now, Assen isn't only known because of its TT, Bartje en the 'Drentse Rijwielvierdaagse'. It also is the fastest growing city in the northern part of the Netherlands, has ample employment opportunities, particularly in the service industry. An unprecedented growth of the city in terms of houses & inhabitants is taking place with environmental issues becoming more urgent.

Notable people born in Assen

Notable people in Assen


The TT Circuit Assen is the most famous motorcycle racing circuit in the world and is the only circuit that has been in the MotoGP calendar since 1949. It is also regarded as the Cathedral of Motorcycle Racing.

External links

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