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Dordrecht - Zuid-Holland
In 1220 the count of Holland granted franchise rights to Dordrecht. It was the first time that he had bestowed this privilege. Dordrecht may thus call itself the oldest city of ‘Holland'.
In the Hof [Court], which still exists (photo 24-28), important history was written. In 1572 during the Spanish rule, it housed the First Assembly of the Free States. All twelve cities of Holland, with the exception of Amsterdam, took part in a secret meeting. They resolved unanimously to turn against the Spanish oppressors. They chose Prince William of Orange as their stadholder. Together with the Union of Dordrecht (1575), in which the constitution was established, the Assembly of the Free States is considered to be the beginning of the independent state of the Netherlands.
Behind the Groothoofdspoort [gate at the city's main jetty] the history is tangible. You can touch it in streets which were never meant for cars. The old inner city can best be explored on foot. By way of the elegant Wijnstraat for example, with its merchants' houses and gentle bends, ending at the characteristic Grote Kerk [Great Church]. Or along the cosy inner harbours, where trade has died down but the atmosphere of yesteryear lives on.
The best traditions of a mediaeval mercantile city are reflected in nearly a thousand monuments. It is with good reason that the cityscape is protected cultural heritage.