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Skyline of Franeker
Flag of Franeker
Location of Franeker
Country Netherlands Netherlands
Province Friesland Friesland
Population (1 January 2006)
 • Total 12,996
Time zone CET (UTC+1)
 • Summer (DST) CEST (UTC+2)

Franeker (West Frisian: Frjentsjer) is one of the eleven historical cities of Friesland and capital of the municipality of Franekeradeel. It is located about 20 km west of Leeuwarden on the Van Harinxma Canal. As of 1 January 2006, it had 12,996 inhabitants. The city is famous for the Eisinga Planetarium from around the year 1800.


An illustration representing the map of Franekar, from c. 1710-1735, in the Atlas Schoemaker, currently held at the Koninklijke Bibliotheek

Franeker was founded around 800 as a Carolingian stronghold. The name probably derives from Froon-acker, meaning "country of the king"; the oldest street in the city is still called Froonacker. Beginning around the 11th century, Franeker developed into the administrative center Westergoa.

Franeker received city rights in 1374. In the 15th century, Albert, Duke of Saxony established himself in Franeker. The city appeared for a time to be growing into the primary city of Friesland, but was eventually overshadowed in this role by Leeuwarden.

During the period of the Dutch Revolt, the town sided early on with William I.

From 1585 to 1811, the city housed the University of Franeker, which was the second protestant university in the Netherlands. It was closed shortly after the incorporation of the Kingdom of Holland into the French Empire. A successor institution, the Rijksatheneum, was founded in 1815, but in 1847 it, too, closed.

The Krystkongres (Christmas Congress), usually held in Franeker, is the annual convention for Frisian students living in Dutch student towns.


Eise Eisinga Planetarium

The city contains two major museums, the Eisinga Planetarium and the Museum Martena. The Planetarium is an orrery built by a local wool carder to explain a conjunction of the planets and to help mitigate local fears of what would happen during the planets' alignment. Built in Eisinga's own living room, it is one of the oldest operating orreries in the world.[1] The Museum Martena, opened in 2006, is housed in a manor house built in 1498 and is devoted to the history of the city and the region.


Frisian handball in Franeker

Since 1852 Franeker is the home of the PC, the most important tournament in Frisian handball.

Being one of the Frisian cities, Franeker is also on the route of the 200 kilometres (120 mi) Elfstedentocht (Eleven-cities Tour), an endurance skating event held at irregular intervals depending on weather conditions.

In August 2014, Jeffrey Peereboom, a student from Franeker, introduced an idea of the speed limits for bicycles in order to make biking in the city safer.[2]


Franeker railway station is a station on the NS line between Leeuwarden and Harlingen. It also had a station on the North Friesland Railway which was the terminus of a branch from Tzummarum. The line opened in October 1903 and closed in October 1933. The station building survives.


Franeker Stadhuis (Town Hall)

The windmill Arkens is a hollow post mill which has been restored. It originally stood in Arkens and was moved in 1972. It is the only windmill in the Netherlands equipped with Vlinderwieken (English: Butterfly sails).[3]

Famous People from Franeker[edit]


  1. ^ "Planetarium Friesland". 
  2. ^ "Dutch city introduces speed limits for bicycles". Dailymotion. 
  3. ^ "Franeker, Friesland" (in Dutch). Molendatabase. Retrieved 18 February 2010. 

External links[edit]

Coordinates: 53°12′N 5°32′E / 53.200°N 5.533°E / 53.200; 5.533