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Kerkrade (About this sound pronunciation ) (Limburgish: Kirchroa) is a town and a municipality in the southeastern Netherlands. It is the western half of the divided region and de facto city, taken together with the eastern half, the German town of Herzogenrath, which was the original name of the municipality under the Holy Roman Empire. The two towns, taken together and including outlying suburban "villages", the divided municipality (the border was drawn right through the town centre) have a combined population approaching 100,000.



The history of Kerkrade is closely linked with that of the adjacent town of Herzogenrath, just across the German border[1]. Herzogenrath began as a settlement, called Rode, near the river Worm (or Wurm in German) in the 11th century. In 1104 Augustinian monks founded an abbey, called Kloosterrade, to the west of this settlement.

It was called 's-Hertogenrode or 's-Hertogenrade (Dutch: the Duke's Rode) after the duchy of Brabant took control over the region; in French it was called Rolduc (Rode-le-duc). As is the case for many parts of the Southern Netherlands, the place changed hands several times in the last few centuries. It was under Spanish control from 1661, Austrian between 1713 and 1785 and French between 1795 and 1813. In 1815, when the kingdom of the Netherlands was formed (see Vienna Congress), the border was drawn through Herzogenrath, the western part being Kerkrade.

In the 18th century the monks of Rolduc began small-scale coal mines. More modern exploitation by others started in 1860, causing Kerkrade to grow significantly, especially as a consequence of the permanent settlement of mainly Southern-European miners in this Northern-European place. When the Willem Sophia mine was opened around 1900, the town grew even more rapidly, absorbing old villages like Chèvremont. In the decades following 1960, all the mines in Limburg were closed.

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