Delft is a compact, historic town between Rotterdam and The Hague in the province of Zuid-Holland. It forms part of the Randstad, the urban agglomeration in the west of the Netherlands and is the nation’s main educational and research centre. Today, Delft ranks as a high-tech location due to the abundance of technology-based institutions and organisations close to and often involved with the university.

Built on reclaimed marsh land, a ‘polder’ area, Delft borders the agricultural centre of the Randstad. Delft played a key role during the Netherlands’ war of independence against Spain in the 16th and 17th centuries. It was the residence of Prince William of Orange, whose presence led to Delft becoming known as Prinsenstad (the Prince’s City). Until the 18th century, Delft was a major industrial, cultural and scientific centre, famous for its beer and its Delft blue pottery. Many world famous painters such as Johannes Vermeer, Jan Steen and Karel Fabritius lived and worked in Delft. It was also the home town of scientist Antoni van Leeuwenhoek, the inventor of the microscope.

The constant wars with France and England in the 17th and 18th centuries led to a decline in trade and industry in Delft. But this began to change in 1842, with the establishment of the Royal Academy for the training of civil engineers, later to become TU Delft. The presence of this institute was a strong stimulus to the revival of Delft’s industry and therefore its status. Its population grew fast. New neighbourhoods were built and university buildings and faculties were relocated from the centre and concentrated in the new university district.

Despite wars and rapid population growth, the old centre of Delft has remained almost completely intact. An ambitious restoration programme has further conserved the city’s old splendour and cemented its reputation as a popular tourist destination. These visitors, along with the university’s 14,000 students, make Delft a lively and pleasant place to live and work.

Delft has a reputation for being a friendly city; bars and terraces along the canals and on the city squares, quirky shops, affordable restaurants and great cinemas. It is easy to find your way around as everything is close together. Delft is bursting with activity from spring right through to autumn, including music festivals and street theatre.

More about the city of Delft…


© 2017 TU Delft