Around the eight century, a number of merchants settled around a natural inlet on a tributary of a river. The settlement soon developed into a harbour, with trading firms and warehouses.
The commercial heart grew up in the first church, founded in 765 by Saint Lebuinus and Saint Marcellinus in the area that later became the Grote Markt
The Grote Kerk or St. Michaëlskerk still dominates the Grote Markt, the centre of the city. It is a Romanesque church, built around 1040. The church was expanded between 1370 and 1452 to become the current Gothic triple-naved hall church with entrance portal.
On the tip of the spire is a figure of the Archangel Michael, the patron saint of the city. The original spire was struck by lightning in 1669.
In front of the church is a magnificent glass sculpture of the Archchangel, created by Herman Lamers (1954).