Dordrecht - Encyclopedia




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DORDRECHT (abbreviated Dordt, or Dort), a town and riverport of Holland, in the province of South Holland, on the south side of the Merwede, and a junction station 122 m. by rail S.E. of Rotterdam. Steam ferries connect it with Papendrecht and Zwyndrecht on the opposite shore, and it has excellent communication by water in every direction. Pop. (1900) 38,386. Dordrecht presents a picturesque appearance with its busy quays and numerous canals and windmills, its quaint streets and curiously gabled houses. The Groote Kerk, of Our Lady, whose massive tower forms a conspicuous object in the views of the town, dates from the 14th century and contains some finely carved stalls (1540) by Jan Terween Aertsz, a remarkable pulpit (1759), many old monuments and a set of gold communion plate. In the town museum is an interesting collection of paintings, chiefly by modern artists, but including also pictures by some of the older masters, among whom Ferdinand Bol, the two Cuyps, Nicolas Maes, Godefried Schalcken, and in later times Ary Scheffer, were all natives of Dordrecht. The celebrated 17thcentury statesman John de Witt was also a native of the town. Close to the museum is one of the old city gates, rebuilt in 1618, and now containing a collection of antiquities belonging to the Oud-Dordrecht Society. The South African Museum (1902) contains memorials of the Boer War of 1899-1902. The harbour of Dordrecht still has a large trade, but much has been diverted to Rotterdam. Large quantities of wood are imported from Germany, Scandinavia and America. There are numerous saw-mills, shipbuilding yards, engineering works, distilleries, sugar refineries, tobacco factories, linen bleacheries and stained glass, salt and white lead works.

Dordrecht was founded by Count Dirk III. of Holland in 1018, becoming a town about 1200. One of the first towns in the Netherlands to embrace the reformed religion and to throw off the yoke of Spain, it was in 1572 the meeting-place of the deputies who asserted the independence of the United Provinces. In 1618 and 1619 it was the seat of the synod of Dort.

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