Stavoren / Staveren

The historical city of Stavoren was granted city rights in the 1060s, which makes it the oldest city in Friesland. It is mentioned in old texts as the burial place of early Frysian kings. In 1285 Stavoren became a member of the Hanze.

The city declined in the late Middle Ages after the harbour got silted, blocking all ships from entering and leaving the harbour. This spawned the story of the Lady of Stavoren (Frouke fan Starum). It describes how a rich patrician merchant widow. She sent out the captain of her merchant fleet out to find the greatest treasure in the world. He returned with wheat, which can feed the hungry, and therefore is the greatest treasure in the world. The widow didn't accept the 'treasure', and ordered for it to be thrown into the harbour of Stavoren. When she was confronted about this, she threw her ring into the ocean, declaring that she was as likely to fall into poverty as she was of regaining the ring. Shortly after, a banquet for fellow Hanseatic merchants was held. She found her ring back inside of a fish served to her. Soon after she fell into poverty, spending the rest of her life begging for scraps of bread, while the wheat that had been thrown into the sea, formed a sandbank that blocked of the city harbour.

The silting of the harbour meant that Stavoren no longer was of a use on the international market. It however re-established itself in the seventeenth and eighteenth century. The nineteenth century brought another wave of decline. The once international harbour declined along with the city, and not much of its glory remains to this day. On touristic summer days, however, the glory of the once so famous harbour city seems to come back. The sea that once threatened the city is no longer around, as the completion of the Afsluitdijk meant that the Zuiderzee (Southern Sea), could be controlled by mankind. Therefore, a risk of flooding is not existent anymore.

Modern day Stavoren is a village of roughly 1000 citizens. It is one of the stops of the Elfstedentocht (Tour of eleven cities), an ice skating race held only in winters so cold that safety can be guaranteed. Since the first Elfstedentocht in 1909, the race has been held a total of fifteen times, with the last one being nearly twenty years ago, in 1997.


About Stavoren Trading Co.