Bussum, a village in the municipality of Gooise Meren

Bussum is located in the middle of the Gooi. The village is therefore also referred to as ‘Hart van het Gooi’. More than 8,000 years ago, people came to live in the Gooi. In Bussum, just like in the surrounding area, the soil was infertile. There was plenty of heather growing there. This meant that farmers could still use the land by grazing their sheep on it. Bussum was therefore a farming village. After a railway was built, wealthy Amsterdammers appeared who started building villas in Bussum. One of the oldest residential areas in the Netherlands is the Bussum residential area Het Spiegel.

The location of Bussum

Bussum is a village in the Gooi. It is located in the southeast of North Holland, near Hilversum. The area of Bussum is 8 kmĀ², making it the smallest municipality in the Gooi. The village has little water surface, but a lot of forest and heathland. The name Bussum comes from the word Bosheem, which means ‘house in the forest’. In 2016, the Gooise village had more than 33,000 inhabitants. Despite the aging population, the number of inhabitants has remained stable in recent decades, reaching a peak of 42,000 inhabitants only in 1966. In 2011, almost 19% of Bussum residents were over sixty-five years old. In that year, the rate for people over sixty-five in the rest of the Netherlands was slightly lower, namely around 15%. Seen from above, Bussum is located in the middle of the Gooi and is therefore nicknamed Heart of the Gooi.


More than 8,000 years ago, people came to live in the Gooi. The wooded area at the time was deforested by farmers to create fields. In 1306, Bussum, like the rest of the Gooi, consisted of a lot of heathland and forest with a number of small farms. The soil of Bussum was infertile, but because the heather flourished, the farmers were still able to make good use of the land. They grazed their sheep on the heath. The sheep’s manure was collected in the stables at night and used by the farmer to fertilize the fields. Around 1470, about 250 people lived in Bussum. It was then the smallest village in the Gooi.

Bussum became independent from Naarden

Bussum and the fortified town of Naarden are located next to each other. From 1369 Bussum was under the government of Naarden. More than three centuries later, it was not until 1796 that Bussum wanted to become independent. Naarden did not like this independence from Bussum and ultimately Bussum only became independent in 1817. Hendrik Banis, also a farmer, was the first mayor of independent Bussum. He provided cadastral overviews of buildings, heathland and fields. After independence, it was not until 1874 that the village began to flourish. This prosperity was partly due to the construction of the railway. Rich Amsterdammers got a view of Bussum via the train and decided to have a villa built there. This became the residential area Het Spiegel. It created a lot of commotion and employment. In the same period, the Bensdorp chocolate factory also provided employment growth.

The residential area Het Spiegel

Although living in the Gooi is associated by the media with a lot of money, rich people and large houses, Bussum occupies a middle position in terms of prosperity in the Gooi. Laren and Blaricum are at the top in terms of prosperity. In Bussum, just like in other villages, there are neighborhoods with rental houses and neighborhoods with unsightly apartment buildings. However, there are large, beautiful houses in posh residential areas. Het Spiegel is one of the oldest residential areas in the Netherlands. The majority of the villas were built in the period 1875-1940. Characteristic is the number of detached houses built in the neoclassical style on winding lanes with lots of greenery. Since 2007, Het Spiegel has been a protected villagescape. The first Gooise farmers lived in the Spiegel, which was not yet a residential area at the time and was called ‘Achterbuurt’ because of its location behind the village.

The center of Bussum

The center of Bussum was redeveloped in the 1980s. After the remediation, the city center became a mix of nineteenth, twentieth and twenty-first century architecture. Art Nouveau features can be found in the facades of the catering and retail buildings. The shopping area of the center is small in terms of area, but has a very diverse range of shops. You can spend an afternoon shopping, or have lunch and dinner. There is a market every Thursday. The ‘t Spant theater and conference center has been located approximately one kilometer outside the center since 1969. Right next to it there are sports fields. There is not much parking around and in the center, apart from a parking garage and a car park.

Two train stations

The somewhat desolate Bussum-Zuid station consists of two tracks and is located a few kilometers from the city center. The larger and busier Naarden-Bussum station is, as the name suggests, on the border of Naarden and Bussum. Due to the construction and growth, the station is actually located slightly more in Naarden than on the border of Naarden and Bussum. It is closer to the city center than Bussum-Zuid station.

Bussum becomes part of Gooise Meren

There had been talk of a merger since 2005. At that time it was not yet clear which municipalities would merge. In 2014, the municipalities of Bussum, Naarden and Muiden merged amid protest from residents due to financial consequences. The residents could come up with and submit a name for the three municipalities brought together. Three residents per municipality sat on a committee. From the almost 400 names submitted for the merged municipalities, they selected three names from which the municipal councils could choose. The municipal councils decided to choose the name Gooise Meren from the entries. Topographically speaking, the name Gooise Meren refers to the two Randmeren on which all three municipalities are (more or less) adjacent. The name Gooise Meren was chosen over the names Naarden-Bussum and Naardingerland. The composite municipality had more than 56,687 inhabitants on January 1, 2016.

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