Deventer - city in the Netherlands
I was born in Deventer, my family has lived there for at least 150 years after immigrating from Germany. Although I haven't lived there for over 25 years, I should add what I know.
The river IJssel is obviously very important in the history of the city. Deventer joined the Hanseatic League early, as did two downstream cities, Kampen and Zwolle. There were as many as six 'year markets' each year, and many merchants, philosophers and religious figures came to Deventer.
Geert Groote (1340-1384) was born in Deventer and started a religious movement called Modern Devotion, which spoke out against corruption in the Church, and emphasized the individual. He also started a famous school. In the 15th century, Erasmus studied here; when he left, Alexander Hegius came; together they are the fathers of Dutch humanism. Also at this school was Thomas a Kempis, author of The Imitation of Christ.
The 'Waag', built in 1528, was an important center for the markets held on the Brink square. Its name means something like 'Weigh'; weighing taxes were an important source of revenue for the city. Nowadays it houses the Historic Museum of Deventer, except that currently the building is being renovated, and the museum is temporarily moved to the address Grote Kerkhof 1. At the back of the building is the Toy Museum which I always found much more fun as a kid (although there are harnesses and killing implements in the basement of the city museum :-)).
In World War II, the train bridge over the river was destroyed - a mangled piece of metal is still standing next to the new one, in the park along the river. The road bridge survived, however.
Near Deventer along the river, you can still find bunkers that were operational until about two decades ago; they were part of the Waterlinie. This strategic defence was first used in the west of the country in the Tachtigjarige Oorlog (+- 1566-1648). This war was the '80 year war' of independence against the Spanish. Large parts of the country were flooded, and the Spanish armies couldn't advance. In the second half of the 20th century, NATO was still planning to flood the banks of the IJssel to stop the Russians!
In 1974, the old road bridge served as the set for the film A Bridge Too Far, about Operation Market Garden in WW2. The events in the film actually played in and around Arnhem, further to the south, but the new bridge and buildings surrounding it were too modern for the film. I was there when they filmed! However, I was two months old :-). When you see the explosions on the bridge in the film, you have no idea of the masses of people that were watching, just out of sight. The gliders they used in the film were ditched in a field next to the tiny airfield at Teuge, where they were left to rust for at least ten years; my father took me there several times. I don't know what became of them.
If you're nearby, the book market mentioned in RubenAzarja's w/u is yearly, always the first sunday of August. Visit it if you can! The atmosphere is always great, the weather is always beautiful, there are second hand books everywhere, many of them in English. My summer is complete when I'm sitting in the park on the river bank, in the sun, with a stack of new books and a glass of beer.
I'll write more later...
I seem to remember Deventer is also mentioned in The Deeper Meaning of Liff by Douglas Adams, but I'm not sure. Could someone who owns it message me?