Almelo came to be in medieval times, its name consisting of olm, the Germanic name for an elm tree and lo, a forest on sandy grounds. The town from back then was located where the Almelose Aa stream and a country road used primarily for trade met. This was where Huis Almelo (Almelo Estate) was built before 1236, rebuilt in 1652 and restored in 1666.
Almelo has been a city since before 1420, having a moat but lacking a wall. The city therefore has never had any military importance. During the seventeenth and eighteenth century, weaving became more and more important.
The coming of the first steam engine to the city in 1830 started a wave of mechanising and centralising the weaving in factories. This upcoming textile industry in Almelo and most of Twente and parts of the Achterhoek meant the coming of the Overijssels Kanaal (Overijssel Channel) in 1855 and the railway line from Almelo to Salzbergen near Rheine, Germany. These two transport ways increased welfare and trade in the city, leading to the creation of many country estates and villas in Jugendstil, expressionistic and neo-romantic styles.
Due to its lack of fortifications, Almelo played little of a role in the Second World War. On November 15th of 1944 this changed. A small team of eight men active in the underground resistance army managed to pull off the biggest bank heist of the Netherlands, stealing a total of thirteen chests of money worth 46.1 million Guilders (€285 million (US$337 million) in today's money). The money, stolen from the Nederlandsche Bank on the Wierdensestraat, was later used for the 1944 railway strike in which thirty thousand people partook in order to hinder German transport. The strike lasted until the liberation of the Netherlands in May 1945. The high amounts of money were only temporarily located in Almelo, as the Reichskommissar Seyss-Inquart ordered for the money to be moved from Arnhem to Germany, temporarily storing it in Almelo during transport. The heist was coordinated by Derk Smoes who worked at the bank, and was justified by the Dutch government-in-exile. The heist, no matter how great it was, ended in tragedy. Before the end of the year the Nazi-Germans managed to take back the money and arrest nine people. Six of them were executed.
The crash of the textile industry in the Eastern Netherlands around the 1960s and 1970s brought an end to the industry in Almelo. Foreign labour made it harder on the local factories to keep producing at costs becoming lower and lower. This led to the closure of many factories, resulting in mass-unemployment, which can still be seen today, though in lesser amounts.
When travelling from the Northern Netherlands, head for Zwolle. using the A28, leaving the highway at exit 20 (Zwolle-Noord). At this point, head south on the Ceintuurbaan (N35). Follow this road through Overijssel, past Raalte and Hellendoorn until the road becomes the A35 just south of Wierden. To get to the Almelo railway station, not far from the city centre, use exit 31 (Almelo-West), heading onto the N36, which you leave at the first exit you come across. Here, head left onto the Wierdensestraat, which will guide you directly to the railway station.
When travelling from the Western Netherlands, use the A1 when travelling from Amsterdam, the A12 coming from The Hague or A15 when coming from Rotterdam. The A12 is followed to Arnhem, where you turn onto the A50 heading for Apeldoorn (avoid turning onto the A50 heading for Nijmegen, which is possible at the first intersection with that highway after exit 25). the A15 is followed until it intersects the aforementioned A50, where you head for Arnhem, following directions to Apeldoorn from there on. Near Apeldoorn, turn onto the A1 following directions to Deventer and Hengelo. Once the A1 meets the A35, head for Almelo, using exit 30 (Almelo-Zuid). To get to the main station of Almelo from here, use the Henriëtte Roland Holstlaan, taking a right turn once that road ends, followed by a left turn right after crossing the railway. Follow this road for a bit and you will see the station.
Coming from the South, first head for Nijmegen (Using the A73 when coming from Limburg, the A50 when coming from Eindhoven and Oss, or the A59 when coming from Zeeland, Breda or 's-Hertogenbosch. When coming from anywhere but Limburg, follow the A50 up to Apeldoorn and follow the direction mentioned above. When coming from the A73, follow the highway heading for Beuningen, then continue on the highway for a bit up to Knooppunt Ewijk (Ewijk interchange). From here, turn onto the A50 heading for Arnhem, after which you also follow directions as mentioned in the paragraph above.
By public transit
The 1 is located not too far from the city centre. Trains here connect to Hardenberg, Apeldoorn, Enschede, Zwolle, The Hague and Amsterdam/Schiphol. From most of these locations, you will have to catch the train to Enschede, as the line continues up to there. Every now and then the ICE train to Berlin stops in Almelo.
Just outside the train station the main bus hub of the city is found, which connects to Borne (line 51), Oldenzaal via Tubbergen (line 64), Neede via Delden (line 66) and Vriezenveen (line 83) along with more local bus lines.
- Football: Heracles Almelo were promoted in 2023 and now play soccer in Eredivisie, the Dutch top tier. Their home ground Erve Asito (capacity 12,080) is by the ring road 2 km south of town centre.
- 1 Historical Festival Almelo, Schapendijk, Almelo. Re-enactment event of the French age (1795 - 1815) in Almelo, specifically focussing on the Battle for Ruigerode, a fictional battle in Napoleontic style. In reality, Bonaparte never visited Almelo, but his brother Louis Napoleon, King of Holland under French overlordship, did. The event has about 700 re-enactors, and attracts several tens of thousands of visitors.
- 1 Albert Heijn (Supermarket), De Gors 27, 7609 DZ Almelo (1½ miles SW of town centre), ☏ . M-Sa 08:00-20:00, Su 12:00-18:00. Medium sized supermarket. Only accept Maestro debit cards or cash.
- 1 Huis van Bewaring, Marktstraat 7, ☏ , email@example.com. The Huis van Bewaring is a former jail converted to hotel. The original galleries are still in place, the cells however, have been converted to 6 cell-rooms (two cells big) and 3 royal suites (3 cells big). The four former offices have been converted to fancy rooms, as have the five ward rooms and former jailmaster's house. €89.
- 2 Van der Valk Almelo, Schouwburgplein 1, ☏ . €74.
- 3 Preston Palace Almelo, Laan van Iserlohn 1, ☏ . €204.
- 4 't Elshuys, Gravendijk 6, Albergen, ☏ , firstname.lastname@example.org. €80.
- 5 Minicamping 't Oelenreef, Hoeselderdijk 16, 7468 SK Enter (3½ miles SSW of Almelo), ☏ , email@example.com. Small friendly campsite. Free Wi-Fi. 1 person/night/tent/bicycle €13.30.