Sneek is situated in Southwest-Friesland, close to the Sneekermeer and is well known for its canals, the Waterpoort (Watergate, the symbol of the city), and watersport (Sneekweek). Sneek is one of the Friese elf steden (Eleven cities). The city is very important for the southwest area of Friesland (the "Zuidwesthoek").
Sneek was founded in the 10th century on a sandy peninsula at the crossing site of a dike with an important waterway (called the Magna Fossa in old documents). This waterway was dug when the former Middelzee silted up. The dike can still be traced in the current street pattern and street names like "Hemdijk", "Oude Dijk" and "Oosterdijk".
Sneek received several city rights in the 13th century, which became official in 1456. Sneek was now one of the eleven Frisian cities. This was also the beginning of a period of blooming trade for the city that would last until about 1550. In 1492 construction of a moat and wall around the city began. In those days Sneek was the only walled city in Friesland. The Waterpoort and the Bolwerk remain today.
Before 2011, the city was an independent municipality.
Since September 10, 1970, Sneek and the Japanese city Kurobe have been sister cities. In 1970, Mayor L. Rasterhoff of Sneek visited the city of Kurobe and was named an Honorary citizen. Mayor H. Terade of Kurobe made a visit to Sneek in 1972. In 2000 delegations of both cities visited each other again. The Japanese showed the citizens of Sneek a "Sneekplein" which was built in Kurobe.