municipality of De Bilt (with a population of over 42,000) was established on 1st January 2001 when the municipalities De Bilt and Maartensdijk were joined. Its territory covers 6,880 hectares. The municipality consists of the villages:
The village De Bilt is from a much earlier date. The oldest record dates from 1372, when among other places De Bilt was burned down by the Geldersen. There must have been a settlement, situated on the edge of the Utrecht hill range. It is to those low hills in the East Netherlands, which are still called "belten", that De Bilt owes its name.
The respectable age of De Bilt is also evident from the old municipal coat of arms. This emblem looks like a grill and commemorates the death of the Holy Lawrence, who was burned in Rome in 258 BC. In the twelfth century a cloister that was dedicated to this St. Lawrence stood near the outskirts of Oostbroek. Since the municipal re-grouping, the municipality has a new coat of arms; you can read more about this later in this guide.
Due to the proximity of a large town, trade and industry did not develop and the village remained small. In 1945 the municipality had a population of about 14,000 and there was little industry. The latter is actually still the case. De Bilt is mainly a typical residential area with a lot of forest. Most of this forest is open to the public and grateful use is made of it.
During the construction of the railway line between Utrecht, Amersfoort, and Zwolle a small wooden station was built at the crossing on the North West side of Soestdijkseweg. In August 1863 the railway line was put into use and De Bilt had its own railway connection (although the station was a half-hour walk from the village). It wasn't until 1900 that a few villas were built near De Bilt Station, which was its official name. Soon after more villas arose and also some smaller houses. The forest area was crossed by several roads and a new village was created that, in 1917, was given the name Bilthoven by the municipality of De Bilt.
Due to the enormous increase in housing construction after the Second World War, the two villages joined together. Commuters have enhanced the residential task of the region even more. Some of the companies and institutions in De Bilt and Bilthoven belong to the service sector, such as the Government Institution for Public Health and Environmental Protection in Bilthoven. Thanks to the weather reports from the KNMI De Bilt always makes the daily headlines. De Bilt also has some industry and flourishing small businesses.
De Bilt is a member of the Council of European Municipalities and Regions. This organisation strives for a united Europe that is based on freedom of the individual and of the community. Municipalities are encouraged to develop a stronger self-consciousness and to promote the European spirit.
The area, in which Maartensdijk developed, was part of an extensive peat area. The exploitation probably started in the beginning of the 13th century near the Vecht, towards the Gooi and the Vuurse. This can still be seen from the long allotments that are stretched out between the Vecht and the Gooi.
Voordorp (Blauwkapel) is the oldest settlement in the Oostveen region and is situated on the eastern boundary of the peat area, between the Vecht and the Vuurse. The name "Oostveen" first appeared around 1350. Later the name Oostveen was given to the village that is now called Maartensdijk, which was the most important settlement in this region.
The name Maartensdijk was already used in the 15th century. Then it probably indicated the dike along the Oostveen canal that runs besides the Dorpsweg. The clergymen from the cathedral in Utrecht named the dike in their area after their patron St. Martin. On the coat of arms of the former municipality of Maartensdijk this holy man is pictured. Mounted on a horse, St. Martin offers a piece of his coat to a scarcely clothed beggar.
During the 16th century the name Maartensdijk was given to the settlement at the northern cross dike, the village Maartensdijk. Way into the 19th century the municipality Maartensdijk (not the village) was often called Oostveen. Oostveen stretched from the city of Utrecht to Hilversum. The area was about 20 kilometres long and 5 kilometres wide. On the west side of Oostveen there were similar extensive regions (later the former municipalities) Achttienhoven and Westbroek.
In 1823 the first boundary adjustment and annexation took place. Part of Maartensdijk was annexed to Utrecht. This was a piece of land from the old gas factory in Blauwkapel road up to the border of the village Tuindorp. A second and more important annexation followed in 1830. The boundaries of the municipality of Utrecht then followed the inundation embankment. "running from the road to the Gagel over the Zwarte Water and including everything within the outside of the outer canals along the embankment and the fort with its outworks and the Ridderschapsvaart to the Minstroom".
On 1st January 1954 there was another radical boundary adjustment. Tuindorp, with a population of 7,317, which was erected in the thirties in the municipality of Maartensdijk, was transferred to Utrecht. Maartensdijk also lost the Zwarte Water area to Utrecht and part of the Biltsestraatweg (Steinenburg) to De Bilt. With this change the population of Maartensdijk was reduced from 12,398 at the end of 1953 to 5,081 on 1st July 1954. The municipality had therefore been halved. Also Achttienhoven and Westbroek lost a large piece of their territories to Utrecht for the Overvecht district.
The loss of land and inhabitants was partly compensated from 1st July 1957 when the majority of Westbroek, which since 1st January 1954 included a large part of Achttienhoven, and a small part of Tienhoven were annexed to Maartensdijk. This increased the population by 1,174.
Compared to the other villages in the former municipality of Maartensdijk, the village of Maartensdijk has the most commuters, is centrally situated and has the most public services. The 17th century building in Tolakkerweg was used as the town hall until 1st January 2001. Other noteworthy buildings are the Nederlands Hervormd church in Dorpsweg (15th/16th century), the 18th century Eyckenstein and the home and care centre Dijckstate on Maertensplein.
Groenekan has developed from a mainly rural village to a commuter's village. Its characteristics are the Voordaan House in Groenekanseweg, the corn mill Geesina and the Groenekan tree nursery.
Hollandsche Rading developed after the 1920s. The villa village lies on the edge of the Gooi. The name Hollandsche Rading (rading = boundary) indicates that the boundary between the Gooi (Holland) and the Sticht (Utrecht) once ran here. Even now the boundary between the village, and the municipality of Hilversum to the north marks the province boundary between the provinces North-Holland and Utrecht. The commuter village Hollandsche Rading lies adjacent to the Gooi Nature Reserve. The village is in the middle of a woodland area and is therefore popular for tourists. There is also a railway station.
Westbroek is mainly agricultural. Westbroek, including the former village Achttienhoven, takes a special place within the municipality. Many of the old buildings here have been preserved. Part of the village has been declared as a protected village sight. Beautiful places of interest are the Westbroek Zodden, the church dated 1467 with wall paintings and the mill De Kraay.
In the past De Bilt was twinned with the German municipality Coesfeld, and Maartensdijk with the Polish town Miescisko. The municipal reorganisation did not change this situation: both town twinnings have been continued.
Through these partnerships the municipalities concerned try to learn about each other's lifestyles and to understand each other's problems. The promotion of contacts between the citizens of the three towns contributes to working towards a mutual understanding in the most varied fields.
Through the Development Co-operation Foundation De Bilt/Bilthoven have also established a partnership with the municipality of Gakpé. Gakpé is a group of four villages in the south of the West-African country Benin. The partnership between De Bilt and Gakpé aims at building up and maintaining a relationship in which information is exchanged about our daily lives, living environment, culture, history, etc., and also exchange of knowledge and experience concerning durable development. The relationship between De Bilt and Gakpé strives to improve the living conditions in Gakpé in such a way that the population of Gakpé can take part in these improvements independently.
Municipal Coat of arms
Coat of arms before 1st January 2001
Due to the municipal re-grouping from 1st January 2001 the former coat of arms belonging to De Bilt and Maartensdijk became obsolete. The High Council of Nobility, who granted the "old" arms to De Bilt on 11th September 1816, described the arms as "being of silver, laden with a St. Lawrence grill and sword". The grill commemorates the torturing death through fire of the Holy Lawrence in the year 258 BC in Rome. The cloister Oostbroek is dedicated to St. Lawrence. This cloister was founded in 1100 and was demolished in 1580.
The arms of Maartensdijk picture "a shield of azure with the image of Saint Martin in gold". The patron St. Martin, mounted on a horse, offers a piece of his coat to a scarcely clothed beggar. Originally St. Martin was coloured red (bishop's overcoat) and white (undercoat); these colours are especially evident in the coat of arms of Utrecht. In the arms of Maartensdijk the colours blue (azure) and yellow (gold) were chosen.
Coat of arms from 1st January 2001
The new coat of arms shows a combination of the two previous arms. In order to join both emblems nicely, the arms of Maartensdijk have been simplified to a diagonal partition, which is also called the Maartensdeling. Above the diagonal the grid from the arms of De Bilt has been placed. Conforming to the heraldic rules the grill is black on the gold part and blue on the silver part. In this way a coat of arms was designed in which both former arms recognisably make up the new coat of arms. Traditionally a golden crown of three leaves and two pearls covers the shield. The new coat of arms was granted by Royal Decree on 4th December 2000 to "the to be founded municipality of De Bilt".
The flag was derived from the coat of arms. For recognition reasons the grill was placed as close as possible to the mast. The diagonal partition under the grill gives the flag its own character and makes it recognisable as the flag of the new municipality De Bilt. Officially the flag is described as follows: "the right-hand diagonal part blue and yellow, the length of the bottom triangle is equal to the height of the flag. Over the diagonal line a square grill, on blue/white and on yellow/black".
The municipality of De Bilt covers 66,60 km2 and has a population of 42.018 as of 31 december 2009.
The municipality has six villages
- De Bilt population 10.464
- Bilthoven population 22.022
- Maartensdijk population 4.979
- Groenekan population 1.886
- Hollandsche Rading population 1.444
- Westbroek population 1.223
(Figures: januari 2010)