Hanseatic cities are cities that were formerly affiliated with the Hanseatic League, in the period from the 12th to the 16th century. This association, the Hanse also called Hanza, was a collaboration between trading cities in Europe. This partnership was for the so-called Hanseatic cities and the merchants in the cities.

The Hanseatic cities worked together a lot and this created many trade routes through Europe. The Hanseatic cities are mainly in Germany, the Netherlands, Belgium, the Baltic States, Norway and Poland. The cities had a strong bond with each other and worked well together, so a lot of money can be saved by combining trade. The trade that was conducted there was mainly salt, grains, fish, wood, wine, beer, animal skins and cloth.

Hanseatic city seal
Hanseatic city seal

The Hanseatic League in the Netherlands, Dutch Hanseatic Cities

In the Netherlands we count no less than 22 Hanseatic cities (+ Hindeloopen which is not a Hanseatic city, but did work together), namely: Arnhem, Deventer, Doesburg, Elburg, Groningen, Harderwijk, Hasselt, Hattem, Kampen, Nijmegen, Oldenzaal, Ommen, Roermond, Stavoren, Tiel, Venlo, Zutphen en Zwolle.

These cities became richer and more powerful due to "The Hanze" and became increasingly powerful, Kampen became the richest city, due to its location on the Zuiderzee, in the Middle Ages there was no question of a closing dike and there was a coming and going of ships from and to Kampen. Some of these cities were only briefly members of "De Hanze", but often continued to work together with Hanseatic cities in the area.

Most ships came to Kampen from the Baltic Sea or London via the Zuiderzee. In order to possibly get the trade via Kampen to Germany, Poland or further, Tol had to be paid. Kampen has earned a lot of money from this.

The ships that were used were of the Kogge type, designed around the year 1200. The Kogge was developed from the Viking ship, only the Cog could transport much more as a freighter, which was important for trade on the shipping routes. The Kogge was about 30 meters long and could transport between 200 and 250 tons of goods. A replica of the Kogge can be admired in Kampen, Kampen is the only city in the Netherlands with such a replica.


Timeline Hanseatic Cities
Timeline Hanseatic Cities


Visit the Hanseatic Museum in Deventer! (Hotel de Leeuw)

Click here for the site.

The Dutch Hanseatic cities and their story with the Hanseatic League

Every Hanseatic city is unique, not only how they look, but also their story of why it became a Hanseatic city. Most Hanseatic cities simply had a beautiful location and some cities were Hanseatic for another reason. Below you can read a story about the city in combination with the Hanseatic League for each city.


Arnhem tried in the 14th century to join the Hanseatic League, unfortunately without success because the city could not prove that the merchants were sufficiently suitable for the alliance. In 1441 the Arnhem administrator had traveled to Lübeck and succeeded in getting Arnhem to join the Hanseatic League.



The city of Bolsward owes its trade entirely to shipping, despite the fact that Bolsward was no longer on open water from the 13th century. Nevertheless, there were good connections for shipping and the city became attractive for trade. In 1412 Bolsward became a member of the Hanseatic League.


The city of Deventer is one of the oldest cities in the Netherlands and in the second half of the eighth century there was already a settlement of traders in Deventer. This development is largely due to its location on the IJssel. In the year 1046 the city already had toll rights and mint rights, so a real trading city from the beginning. Due to this development, Deventer already had many contacts with many (German) trading cities, so Deventer naturally joined the Hanseatic League, the city had a lot of interest in this.


The town of Doesburg is conveniently located at a confluence of the IJssel and the Oude IJssel, which makes it a suitable trading town. Doesburg joined the Hanseatic League in 1447.


The city of Elburg has a favorable location, south of Kampen and the former Zuiderzee. This has made Elburg an attractive trading city, the special thing about the city is that the city was once moved due to several floods, this was decided at the end of the 14th century. In the year 1252 Elburg was already named in the list of trading towns, but the city only seems to be really active in the Hanseatic League in 1367.


Besides the cities lying on the rivers or the sea, Groningen is also a member of De Hanze, as before 1463, this has made the city prosperous and became the trading center of the Northern Netherlands.


The city of Harderwijk had a favorable location on the Zuiderzee, making the city very active in the Hanseatic League. In the year 1280 Harderwijk was probably already a member of the Hanseatic League.


The city of Hasselt is located on the Zwarte Water just above Zwolle, the city also received markets and toll rights, making it a trading city. In the year 1367 Hasselt joined the Hanseatic League.


The city of Hattem is located on the IJssel almost against the city of Zwolle, in the year 1299 the place received city rights and from that year also belonged to the Hanseatic League.


With its location on the former Zuiderzee, Hindeloopen was a prime location for trading, yet Hindeloopen did not become an official Hanseatic city, but there were many trade relations with other Hanseatic cities.


Given its location, Kampen has been a trading city for a long time, even before the Hanseatic League. The Kogge ships could go in all directions from Kampen, it was located on the former Zuiderzee and through the IJssel you could be in Germany in a few days. In the year 1441 Kampen became a member of the Hanseatic League and can call itself a Hanseatic city.


With its location on the Maas and close to the Waal, Maasbommel is a logical trading city for the Hanseatic League. In 1312, with the acquisition of city rights, it also became a Hanseatic city. In 1674 the French conquered the town and there was a fire and looting, so there is little left of Maasbommel on paper. In 2017, Maasbommel was again registered in the "Nieuwe Hanze", you can read more about this at the bottom of this page.


The city of Nijmegen became a significant center in the Middle Ages, in 1230 it became a real city and trade took place. Due to this good development of trade through the markets and its location on the Waal, it has been a member of the Hanseatic League since 1402 and therefore a Hanseatic city.


The city of Oldenzaal may have less of an advantage because of its location. The city is not located on the water, but in addition to trade over water, trade was also transported over land. Oldenzaal became a member of the Hanseatic League in the year 1261, the city was furthermore well-located to the Hanseatic cities of Osnabrück and Munster in Germany.


A Hanseatic city on the Vecht, the smaller town of Ommen became a member of the Hanseatic League in 1473. The city does not entirely owe this to itself, Zwolle and Deventer were the major trading cities in the "Lage Landen" area, but these cities also sought contact with smaller cities in the immediate vicinity.

Ommen had a lot of cooperation with Deventer and therefore belonged to this city. Despite the help of Deventer, the Vecht was also an important river for trade. In particular, a lot of sandstone went from Germany to the Netherlands over the Vecht. For example, all the stones of the Palace on Dam Square went through Ommen.

Unfortunately, the Vecht could only be navigated well in the winter because it became too shallow in the summer due to dehydration, but dams were built to keep sailing on the Vecht as long as possible. Because the river was not that deep, other boats were also sailed than with the Kogge, they used a so-called Zomp, because of removable sideboards there was a large cargo hold, but the boat did not go very far under water.


Rijssen was a Hanseatic city as a subsidiary of the Hanseatic city of Deventer. The river Regge flows past the town of Rijssen in the direction of Zwolle and Kampen and is therefore on a good trade route to become a Hanseatic city around 1350, according to the oldest data.


The city of Roermond has a beautiful location on the Maas and was already a real trading city. On paper there is only evidence that Roermond has been a member of the Hanseatic League since 1441, but Roermond had been trading for Hanseatic cities for much longer. Roermond was mainly known for its Laken, but it was also a good transit route for items from Dinant, Liège and Namur.


The city of Stavoren itself became an important trading city, with its location on the Zuiderzee, Stavoren was ideal for ships and trading. Stavoren became a member of the Hanseatic League in 1385.


The city of Tiel was easily accessible via the Waal, the city became a member of the Hanseatic League shortly after Nijmegen in the year 1402. Tiel was still too small a town and after almost 30 years they were no longer allowed to participate in the discussion during the Hanseatic Days and Tiel belonged to a subsidiary of Nijmegen.


The city of Venlo is located on the Maas, which makes it possible to reach it easily by boat. In the Middle Ages, Venlo was a really important trading city, comparable to a city like Cologne. Due to the good trade, Venlo became a member of the Hanse, a bit late, only in 1481.


Information will follow soon.


Zutphen has been a member of the Hanseatic League since the 13th century. With its location on the IJssel, a good location to get there with the Kogge ships.


Like the other Hanseatic cities, Zwolle joined the Hanseatic League in the usual way, although Zwolle was not directly on the IJssel, like the cities of Kampen and Deventer. The Vecht was also an important river during the Hanseatic League and Zwolle also benefited from this. There is a suspicion that the city was already a member of the Hanseatic League in 1272 because the city then traded with Germany, but there is only evidence of the city's re-entry in the year 1407. In 1980 the Nieuwe Hanze was founded in Zwolle, more about this read further on this page.

Hanseatic city of Hattem

The end of the Hanseatic League

The Hanseatic League was a fantastic means of doing international trade in Europe, the many Hanseatic cities that worked together have achieved a lot. However, the German members' association the Hanse will come to an end, the Hanse has provided a lot of trade, but of course there is always expansion.

At the beginning of the 16th century, the Hanseatic League became weak, the Hanseatic cities were no longer from that time and trade took place over greater distances, over the larger seas. As a result, Holland and Zeeland were on the rise with trade.

Amsterdam and Antwerp in particular became major trading cities in the area. As a result, the Hanse almost collapsed, more and more countries ensured that the Hanseatic League no longer had power over (part of) their country and more and more cities found their own interests more important than the Hanse.

Of course, not everyone just gave up on the Hanseatic League, for example a Hanseatic office was moved from Bruges to Antwerp. Unfortunately to no avail and the Hanseatic League continued to decline, more and more Hanseatic offices closed their doors. The Thirty Years' War (from 1618 to 1648) caused a lot of misery for the Hanseatic League, the war destroyed almost everything. The last Hanseatic Day was in 1669 and then only nine towns registered (there were almost 200!), the definitive end of the Hanseatic League was in 1862, only three towns were members, namely Bremen, Hamburg and Lübeck.

The new Hanseatic League

Despite the decline of the Hanse, many cities still attach great importance to the title they once had. The name Hanseatic city is still common today and everyone has heard of it, this is due to the value that the cities still attach to it. In the Netherlands, the cities of Deventer, Zwolle, Kampen, Groningen, Oldenzaal, Harderwijk and Zutphen still proudly call themselves a Hanseatic city. This gives us every reason to give the Hanseatic cities a place on our site.

This enthusiasm has also led to the emergence of a new Hanseatic League, not to trade between the cities, but in the cultural and tourism field. The new Hanseatic League was founded in 1980 in the Hanseatic city of Zwolle, this new Hanseatic League also has its usual meetings in the various Hanseatic cities.

Hanseatic city of Roermond