Appingedam: a Frisian city in the province of Groningen

The town of Appingedam is located in the province of Groningen. However, Appingedam was originally a Frisian city. In the Middle Ages it was considered the capital of the Frisian region of Fivelingo. In the 21st century, tourists can still visit many sights from the old glory days of Appingedam in the old center of this town, including the Nicola├» Church. The striking ‘hanging kitchens’, which hang in the center above the Damsterdiep, are also famous. The symbol of the city of Appingedam is a pelican.

History of Appingedam

The town of Appingedam probably originated around the year 1100. In the year 1327 they obtained city rights. Appingedam and the city of Groningen are the only places in the province of Groningen that have medieval city rights. There is a fundamental cultural difference between the history of these two places.

Frisian city

Groningen was originally a Saxon village and belonged to the County of Drenthe when it received city rights. Appingedam, on the other hand, traditionally belonged to Friesland. This place obtained its city rights at a meeting of the Frisians in East Frisian Aurich, near the Upstalboom. Appingedam has traditionally not been a Groningen, but a Frisian city and in the 21st century it still bears the nickname ‘the twelfth Frisian city’.


As a young city, Appingedam was a very ambitious port city on the Damsterdiep in the Middle Ages. Appingedam was considered the capital of the Fivelingo (or also: Fivelgo) region. This region and most other ‘Ommelanden’ were still clearly Frisian from a cultural point of view in that period. In the following centuries, the city of Groningen became increasingly influential economically, culturally and politically, which eventually made this area more and more Groningen instead of Frisian.


An important historical symbol for the city of Appingedam is the pelican. In the past, it was believed that a pelican nursed its children by feeding them its own blood. Therefore, the pelican symbolized Jesus Christ, who offered his blood to humanity. In various places in the city center you can find old statues that represent pelicans. The pelican also appears in the flag and coat of arms of Appingedam. There is also a football club from this place called ‘the Pelicans’.

Tourist attractions in the center of Appingedam

Hanging kitchens

Appingedam has a picturesque city center, with narrow old streets, canals and many medieval buildings. The so-called ‘hanging kitchens’ are famous: a number of kitchens hang above the Damsterdiep behind the houses and above the water, which is a rather absurd sight.

Town Hall

Appingedam has a beautiful, but rather small town hall, built in a Renaissance style. The building was probably used as a town hall in 1630, after a renovation. It is located at Wijkstraat number 36. There is a large statue of Lady Justice on the front facade. Below this is a gable stone with a pelican, which feeds its children with its own blood. There are also various Latin sayings on the building. Below that is ‘SOLI DEO GLORIA’, which means: to God all glory. The building is still used in the 21st century for council meetings and weddings, among other things.

Museum City Appingedam

The Museum Stad Appingedam is located at Wijkstraat 25 in the center of Appingedam. This is located in two historic buildings. The permanent collection of this museum includes an extensive silver collection, which consists of all kinds of silver objects that have been made over the centuries by the silversmiths of the Appingedam guild. There are also changing exhibitions in this museum, which often have a direct link with the history of Appingedam.

Nicolai Church

Mary versus Nicholas

Another important attraction is the large church in the center of this city: the Nicolai Church. Originally, this most important church in this place was called the Mariakerk. This was built around the year 1225. However, the ambitious Appingedam decided at a certain point that this holy virgin, the ‘Mother of All Sorrows’, was not the most suitable patron saint of this port city. It was decided to choose Nicolai (Saint Nicholas) as the new patron saint, especially because this was the patron saint of sailors, merchants and bankers. Many other ambitious port and trading places also chose this Nicholas as their patron saint, such as Amsterdam, Bari and Kampen.

Church tower

The Nicolai Church has been extensively renovated several times over the centuries. From 1554 the church had a large tower, which stood separate from the rest of the church building. However, in the 19th century it had to be demolished due to dilapidation and was replaced by a new (lower, but wider) bell tower that is attached to the church.


During the Eighty Years’ War, in 1594, this originally Catholic church converted to Protestantism. As a result, the church was stripped of all kinds of so-called ‘Catholic and decadent frills’. The walls were painted white. Many centuries later, various medieval frescoes were found under that layer of paint.

Organ: Hinszorgel

The beautiful organ of the Appingedam church is famous. This ‘Hinszorgel’ was built by the famous organ builder Albert Antoni Hinsz in 1744. He also used various parts of an older organ, which had been in this church since 1638.

Events: the night of Appingedam

The largest annual event in Appingedam is the so-called ‘Night of Appingedam’. This always takes place on the last Friday of June. There will be a grand celebration in the center of Appingedam, there will be lots of live music and most bars are open until five in the morning. There is also a fair in the town. The Appingedam City Run is traditionally held on the Saturday after the ‘Night of Appingedam’. There are also various events on the following Sunday, including a market and a vintage car event.

Damster City Festivals

The ‘Night of Appingedam’ is the traditional start of a long series of summer festivities in this town, which are collectively called ‘Damster Stadsfeesten’. This series of parties usually ends in September on Damster Day. On that day, two parades of floats drive through the city.

Municipality of Appingedam

Appingedam has approximately 12,000 inhabitants in 2020. It is the main town of the municipality of the same name. In addition to the town of Appingedam, this municipality also contains several small villages and hamlets, such as Jukwerd, Marsum, Solwerd and Garreweer. The area of the municipality is approximately 24.6 square kilometers.