The name of the town Gennep is derived from the Celtic word Ganapja, which means ‘a place where two rivers meet’. In this case the small river Niers that flows into the Meuse river near Gennep. It’s the ideal spot for potters to work. When Gennep acquired its town charter is not known for certain, but it seems to have been around the year 1300.
Presumably the rights granted in the charter were limited. Nevertheless, the burgers of Gennep had the right to levy tolls and to defend themselves. The walled city was accessed through three main gates: Nierspoort (on the northeast), Maaspoort (facing west) and Zandpoort (south). A double canal was dug outside the wall along the north and west, which is very special. Across this canal lay the agricultural plots cultivated by the townspeople. Gennep’s three gates have long since disappeared. On the site of Zandpoort, demolished around 1810 under the French occupation, a semi-circular stone bench recalls the original contour of this important entrance to the city. On the north and west of the old inner city, the wall still stands. The course of the wall was incorporated into the paving of Zandstraat with stainless steel pins following an archaeological excavation in 2013/2014. The course of the old canal has also been preserved in what is now known as the Green Canal.
In fact, Gennep’s walls did not stop the city being almost totally destroyed by fire in 1597, at the height of the Eighty Years’ War. The town hall went up in flames too, together with all the archives (including those of neighbouring towns and villages and monasteries, which had thought to have stored their records in a safe place). Little written information survives of the early history of Gennep and the missing parts are told by the pieces of the puzzle that are found whenever archaeologists excavate here, and in the other archives in the Netherlands.
Located near to two rivers, Gennep naturally has a rich history as a centre for pottery. Around 1805 there were no less than fifteen potters in Gennep. In 1988, the Dutch government’s official archaeological department undertook a large-scale excavation in the northwest of the historical city centre (De Doelen). Here the remains were found of a house and the workshop of a potter’s family from the eighteenth century. A potter’s kiln was found recently in a dig on Zandstraat in 2019. It is well-known that potteries existed at various locations in the old city centre; the name Pottenhoek, of one of the local streets, bears eloquent testimony.
Ceramics made in Gennep belong to the Lower Rhine ware tradition. It is simple common pottery with a red hue and typically decorated with white slip and transparent lead glaze. Peterhuis Museum, which is also located inside the city walls, houses an interesting collection of this pottery.
ATTENTION: The spear is on the Janlinders square opposite the Hema (Zandstraat 61 Gennep).
Museum Het Petershuis
Niersstraat 2, 6591 CB Gennep
For opening times, check www.museumpetershuis.nl