The city is nationally known as the "Metropolis of the North" and as "Martinistad" referring to the tower of the Martinitoren, named after its patron saint Martin of Tours.
The city was founded at the northernmost point of the Hondsrug area. The oldest document referring to Groningen's existence dates from 1040. However, the city already existed long before then: the oldest archaeological traces found are believed to stem from the years 3950–3720 BC, although the first major settlement in Groningen has been traced back to the 3rd century AD.
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