Tilburg 101

Tilburg is the sixth biggest city of the Netherlands. It has around 200,000 inhabitants. Tilburg’s growth as a city was largely due to the textile industry. This branch of industry ran into serious problems during the sixties when textile products from Third World countries began to glut the world market. The result was that the entire textile industry in the western world - and therefore also in Tilburg - collapsed in a very short time. The financial and social problems that ensued put a great strain on the local administration. That administration, however, discharged its duties admirably. Partly thanks to the favorable economic climate in the Netherlands, Tilburg is once again one of the most vital large cities in the Netherlands.

History
Compared to many of the other large cities in the Netherlands, Tilburg cannot claim a particularly long history. Its charter was issued in 1809, so we have celebrated the city's 200th anniversary in April 2009. Tilburg grew up out of a number of small villages and hamlets, largely populated by sheep farmers. The trade in wool and the emergence of cottage industries weaving fabrics marked the beginning of Tilburg's 'golden age' as a world centre of the textiles industry. For much of the twentieth century, Tilburg was home to countless textile mills. During the 1960s, production shifted to the low-wage countries, whereupon Tilburg had to seek ways in which to diversify its economy. It has done so with great success, largely due to the perseverance and determination of its people. Today, the industrial past lives on in the Audax Textiles Museum, which is housed in a former mill.
The machines here have not yet been silenced. Tilburg can claim to be a modern city. Many of the former textiles factories, often in the city centre itself, have been demolished and replaced by new buildings. Streamlined high-rise buildings give Tilburg a distinctive, modern skyline. Nevertheless, that skyline is still punctuated by some of the old factory chimneys, recalling the era in which almost everyone in the city earned their living in the textiles industry. The panorama also includes a number of historic church towers. Old and new stand harmoniously alongside each other, recalling the past and looking forward to the future of this very vibrant city.

Religion
There are still many reminders of Tilburg's strong Catholic tradition, with several churches, abbeys and cloisters in the city. However, the number of active churches continues to fall, with some being deconsecrated and given an alternative function as congregations dwindle. Conversion into apartments has proven a particular popular option. Of course, many other religions other than Catholicism are represented in Tilburg. One which is still enjoying ongoing growth is Islam, brought to the Netherlands in the 1960s by the 'gastarbeiders' (foreign workers) from Morocco and Turkey. Tilburg has both Moroccan and Turkish mosques.

Public transport
Public transport is well-organized in Tilburg. Fast bus connections ensure that you can travel to the various parts of the city within minutes. A dynamic passenger information system lets travelers know exactly when the various buses are expected at each bus stop. Tilburg is a strong proponent of inexpensive public transport. More people on the bus means less environmental impact. One of the means employed to encourage use of public transport is the ' TOP ticket'. This entitles you to use all scheduled city bus services on Thursday evenings and all weekend for just € 0.50. If you are over 55, you travel free! Tilburg is part of the railway 'night network', which means that there are trains to and from Breda, Den Bosch, Eindhoven, Utrecht, Amsterdam, The Hague and Rotterdam twenty-four hours a day. The Night Network is operational on Thursdays and all weekend.

Sports
Tilburg is a city with plenty of room for sport and recreation. A few years ago the city was one of the cities to host the World Football Championships for professionals under 20. The football club Willem II and the ice hockey club the Tilburg Trappers are the city's two professional sports teams. And let's not forget about field hockey. The city also offers plenty of scope for those who prefer to go walking or cycling. There are many nature reserves and scenic areas around the city. You can get several interesting routes for walks and cycle rides at the Tourist Office. Tilburg has about 300 different sports clubs with a total of more than 100 sports fields. If you want to train or take part in team sports there´s a choice of clubs you can join.