Eindhoven

It is the fifth largest city in the Netherlands, located in North Brabant. It officially received city rights in 1232 (then known as Endehoven) granted by Duke Hendrik I of Brabant. The name is said to be derived from the words “eind” meaning “last” and “hove” which refers to a section or parcel of land that can be leased to individuals by the local lord. Hence, the name “Eindhoven” may have been referring to the city’s original location in Woensel, or the “last portion of land in Woensel”. Eindhoven is known as the capital of Dutch industrial design, producing important Dutch designers such as Maarten Baas, Richard Hutten, Hella Jongerius and Marcel Wanders. 

This bustling city also has a rich historical past. When it was granted city rights, it was a fortified city functioning as a trading post and a strategic point between Holland and Liege in Belgium.  The Netherlands and Spain took turns in the ownership and administration of the city until it officially became a part of the Netherlands in 1629.  Progress and growth came to Eindhoven during the Industrial Revolution when major canals, roads and railroads were built, thus widening access as well as forging new connections to neighboring cities and other countries. Lighting and electronics leader Philips was founded in the city in 1891, and automotive and truck manufacturing company Van Doorne’s Automobiel Fabriek (DAF) subsequently in 1928. The construction of these two commercial giants propelled the population growth in the city – from a small village to a full-grown city of over 210,000 – as well as greatly influencing its culture and economy. Eindhoven is also called “the City of Light” because of Philips and for its many events where buildings are lit up.

Unfortunately, World War II ravaged most of Eindhoven’s historical architecture and the reconstruction efforts that followed after (which included large-scale housing developments) shifted to modernistic styles. Eventually, Eindhoven rose to recognition for its creative industrial designs with the Design Academy leading the way in producing designers who achieve international fame. 

Eindhoven has seven districts: Woensel-Noord, Woensel-Zuid (South), Stratum, Gestel, Strijp, Tongelre and Centrum. Woensel-Noord has the highest population at around 65,000 and the city centre of Centrum has the smallest at 5,757. Only a third of the population are non-locals or are of foreign descent. The ethnic groups in Eindhoven are comprised of Turks, Moroccans, Surinamese, Antilleans, Germans and Indonesians. The population is also predominantly Roman Catholic.

For one of Netherlands’ oldest cities, Eindhoven has a young and vibrant spirit epitomized by its modern, high-rise architectural style, as well as its many attractions around.  The city actually has the biggest green area among the five major cities of the Netherlands, evidenced by a good number of public and open-air parks: the Genneper Parken, Philips van Lenneppark, Henri Dunantpark and Stadswandelpark to name a few. The parks and public spaces are also home to some of Eindhoven’s modern art installations.

Another popular crowd drawer in Eindhoven are its year-round cultural festivals and events. There is the Carnaval in February which in Eindhoven is a religious festival known as “Vastenavond.” The four-day festivities before Ash Wednesday include a colorful parade. The “Koninginnedag” or The Queen’s Day in April is also celebrated with much fanfare in Eindhoven – from open-air concerts, children’s games to flea markets all over the city. The Lichtjesroute (Route of Lights) held every autumn in the city is a 25-kilometre parade to commemorate the liberation of the city during World War II. Not to be missed as well is the Dutch Design Week which happens during October. The seven-day exhibition centers on the developments in industrial design as promoted by a combination of design schools such as the Design Academy Eindhoven and giant companies such as Philips Design and DAF. 

Whilst the city was not able to preserve much of its historical heritage in the building architecture, there are a number of museums in Eindhoven that visitors can go to. Some of the more important ones include the Van Abbemuseum which houses the works of modern artists such as Picasso, Chagall and Kandinsky. To relive the founding of the factory of Philips in the 19th century, there’s the Philips First Incandescent Lamp Factory of 1891. The Historic Open Air Museum takes visitors back to prehistoric time right through the Middle Ages and the Iron Ages with recreations of old farm houses and stables. 

Eindhoven also has its share of music and entertainment venues such as the pop podium, Effenaar; the Parktheater Eindhoven, one of the largest stages in the country and used for opera and ballet performances; and the Muziekcentrum Frits Philips which is the venue for international renowned classical and popular music performances and concerts.