Of all the Frisian cities, Stavoren is the oldest. Where Stavoren now is a cute, little water sports village, it used to be a busy, active trading point. This caused Stavoren to be a wealthy city, but its history also shows some disasters like large fires and occupations by Holland's enemies.

The legend of Het Vrouwtje van Stavoren (The little lady of Stavoren) describes another tragedy in the city's history. The story goes that a rich ship owning woman ordered one of her captains to search for the most valuable on earth and to bring it to her. The captain returned after a while, but all he brought in was a shipload of grain. In her rage, the little woman ordered to throw all cargo overboard, into the harbour. This caused the harbour to silt up, consequently blocking all trade possibilities. According to the legend, the woman herself lost all of her fortune after this and became a beggar.

Main monument of Stavoren is a statue of Het Vrouwtje van Stavoren. Nowadays, trade ships have been replace by pleasure yachts, using Stavoren's locks to get from the Frisian Lakes to the IJsselmeer vice versa.