Count John I of Holland was Lord of Dokkum and its surroundings. As the local Lord he was frequently petitioned for the right to travel across his land. The petitions usually requested free and safe passage for traders. Little did John suspect that the petition he received on 23 February 1298 would go down in history. The letter was co-signed by the Dokkum town council. This meant that Dokkum was now recognised as a town. In fact, it was the fourth town in Friesland.
The date on which the town charter was granted is not known but the privileges it conferred undoubtedly contributed to the town’s prosperity! The right to legislate and exercise jurisdiction, build town defences, collect tolls and hold markets enabled Dokkum to flourish. The town continues to benefit from these rights to this day. The weekly market in Grote Breedstraat every Wednesday is said to be one of the oldest weekly markets in the Netherlands!
The impressive town hall built as a status symbol in 1610 had to compete with the town halls in Franeker and Harlingen. Four centuries later, the building is still used by the municipal council. The Municipality of Noardeast-Fryslân consists of 51 villages and 63 hamlets and the town of Dokkum, all united by the motto ‘Together, personal and close by’.