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Oudewater (About this sound pronunciation ) is a municipality and a town in the Netherlands, in the province of Utrecht.


Population centres

The municipality of Oudewater consists of the following cities, towns, villages and/or districts: Hekendorp, Oudewater, Papekop, Snelrewaard.

The town of Oudewater

Oudewater is situated where the Linschoten river flows out in the Hollandsche IJssel. The origin of the town of Oudewater is obscure and no information has be found concerning the first settlement of citizens. It is also difficult to recover the name of Oudewater. One explanation is that the name is a corruption of old water-meadow. Oudewater was an important border city between Holland and Utrecht. Oudewater (lit. "Old water") was of great strategic importance. The town was granted city rights in 1265 by Hendrik van Vianden, the bishop of Utrecht. Oudewater took place in the First Free Statescouncil in Dordrecht on July 19, 1572, Oudewater was one of the twelve cities taking part in the first free convention of the States-General in Dordrecht. This was a meeting that laid down the origin of the State of the Netherlands, as we know it now, under the leadership of the House of Orange. This happened at the beginning of the 80 year war (1568–1648) when the Netherlands were still part of the Spanish Empire. After a siege of several months, Oudewater was conquered by the Spanish on August 7, 1575, and most of its inhabitants killed.

In the 16th and 17th century, Oudewater was an important producer of rope. In the surrounding area, hemp was cultivated. There still is a rope manufacturing plant and a rope museum in the town.

Oudewater is the setting for the 1975 novel, Das Geheimnis des Baron Oudewater, set in the 16th century, when The Netherlands was fighting for its independence from Spain. Written by the German author Alberta Rommel, it has been described as a "romantic historical novel".

Oudewater, church near a canal

Oudewater, view to the town

Important buildings

Oudewater is famous for the Heksenwaag (Witches' scales). This Weighing house, an official town building, became famous during the 16th century because people accused of witchcraft were offered an honest chance of proving their innocence. In many cities and countries such trials were usually rigged, resulting in the burning or drowning of hundreds of innocent people.

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