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5 things you probably didn’t know about Groningen

5 things you probably didn’t know about Groningen

5 things you probably didn’t know about Groningen

Groningen is a pretty popular city and province up north in the Netherlands and if you have been, you will probably have seen it boasting Europe’s largest pub amongst other things, but did you know the following five facts?

1. The University of Groningen was the first in the Netherlands to accept women

Yes, you heard right. The University of Groningen was the first in the whole of the Netherlands to grant women permission to study there. The first woman to do so in 1871, and the one who caused such a change, was Aletta Jacobs.

Jacobs had written a letter to Prime Minister Thorbecke asking for permission to attend “academic classes”, which was then granted. She studied medicine and was a strong advocate for women’s rights, something which she fought for throughout her life.

If you are ever in Groningen, journey to the Oude Kijk in ‘t Jatstraat, where you can see a statue of this amazing woman! You may also notice that many things in the city are named after her.

2. Home to the most leaning tower in Europe

Pisa probably springs to mind, but unfortunately, or maybe not so unfortunately, you would be wrong in calling it the most tilted tower. Groningen is actually home to the most leaning tower in Europe.

The tower in Pisa comes in at 55,86 metres tall and leans about four metres, whilst the leaning tower of the St. Walfridus church in Bedum is 35,7 metres tall and leans 2,61 metres. Therefore, if corrected for its height, the church tower in Bedum beats Pisa in terms of lean. 

It was the restoration of the tower of Pisa that allowed for this victory, as the works resulted in a slight loss of tilt for the Italian tower.  

3. Has the world’s most beautiful public lavatory

Ok, this is an odd one, but if you are looking to relieve yourself on a visit, why not in the most beautiful public lavatory in the world? It was designed by architect Rem Koolhaas and photographer Erwin Olaf for the city event A Star is Born in 1996.

If you look closer, you can see that the building has the form of the yin and yang sign. It also features a floating roof with drop-shaped holes which are filled in with glass.

There are separate entrances for the men and women and the frosted glass walls show images depicting the struggle of the sexes. All images are displayed in shades of blue.

The urinal is not open all year, unfortunately. In the winter it is closed due to the risk of freezing. If you fancy a visit, take a trip to Reitemakersrijge 22.

4. Hosts the biggest student introduction week in Europe

Groningen is packed with students and there is no doubt why, especially when you hear about the pretty much legendary student introduction week!

The introduction week is the biggest in Europe and has a programme packed full of activities, allowing students not only to get to know their peers and the city, but also to learn more about acting responsibly when it comes to sex, drugs and alcohol.

The introduction week is called the KEI-week and, as the title suggests, it lasts one working week. In 2018, the event celebrated its 50th edition! Each year has its own specific theme and is organised by a board of students.

If you are planning on studying in the Netherlands and choose to go to one of the institutes in Groningen, be sure to take part in this amazing event which takes place in mid-August! 

5. Birthplace of an Olympic swimming gold medallist

You heard right, a legend was born in Groningen, Sauwerd to be exact. Dutch swimmer Ranomi Kromowidjojo was born in 1990 and has not just won one gold Olympic medal, she has won three!

Ranmoi won her first gold medal at the 2008 Olympics in Beijing with her team in the 4 x 100-metre freestyle event. She received her second and third gold medals for the individual 50-metre and 100-metre freestyle events at the 2012 Olympics in London.

Along with her Olympic gold medals, she also has a silver medal for the 4 x 100-metre freestyle event, along with her teammates, from the 2012 Olympics. If you add up her Olympic medals plus her World and European championship medals, she has a whopping 65 medals in total. 

Did you know all of these facts or were they surprising? Let us know in the comments!

Mina

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Mina Solanki

Mina studied an MA in European Linguistics at the University of Groningen and has since worked as a translator, writer and editor. She loves to read and has a particular...

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