Urk

Urk

The Former Island of Urk, like Marken and Schokland, used to be an island in the Zuiderzee. It is higher than its surroundings so you can see it from afar. It lies on an ancient hill of tough boulder clay.

For a long time, poverty, disease and overpopulation were persistent problems on this island where the calling to the hazardous fishing profession was handed down from father to son. In the last century, when the Noordoost Polder was drained, Urk became part of the mainland. However, the close-knit community of now nearly 20,000 souls have maintained their isolated island mentality. They are a strictly religious people. After 1660 they took the Protestant faith, sixteen different varieties of which are still practiced today in as many packed churches every Sunday.

Fishery and related trades continue to be the most important means of earning a living for the people of Urk. Today’s generations own a fishing fleet of 130 kotters, the largest in the country. IJmuiden (North Sea), Harlingen, Delfzijl and Lauwersoog (Wadden Sea) are the harbours where their catch is taken ashore, loaded in lorries and driven to Urk where the fish is processed and sold. It is home to the country’s largest fish auction. In 1968, Urk celebrated its 1000th birthday. Het Oude Raadhuis Museum paints a picture of the history of Urk and its inhabitants.