An amalgam of austere medieval magnificence and Golden Age glory, Delft's exquisite town centre is a hugely popular Dutch day-trip destination, awash with visitors strolling its narrow, canal-lined streets and central Markt. The centre is time capsule–like, having changed little since Golden Age artist Johannes Vermeer, who was born in Delft and lived his whole life here, painted his famous View of Delft in 1660–61.
Founded around 1100, the town grew rich from weaving and trade in the 13th and 14th centuries. In the 15th century a canal was dug to the Maas river, connecting it with the small port of Delfshaven and increasing trade. In the 17th century, artisans started to produce Delftware, the distinctive blue-and-white pottery originally duplicated from Chinese porcelain. Delftware continues to be produced today, and the town also has a thriving university that is renowned for its architecture faculty.