It is assumed that Gorinchem was founded circa the year 1000 by fishermen and farmers on the raised land near the mouth of the river Linge at the Merwede. "Goriks Heem" is first mentioned in a document from 1224 in which Floris IV granted people from Gorinchem exemption of toll payments throughout Holland.
Somewhere between 1247 and 1267, Gorinchem became property of the Lords of Arkel. At the end of the 13th century earthen mounts reinforced with palisades were built around the settlement to protect it from domination by the neighboring counties of Holland and Gelre. Half a century later real city walls were built complete with 7 gates and 23 watchtowers. Otto van Arkel granted it city rights on 11 November 1322.
Jan van Arkel had a dispute with Albert I, brother of Willem V of Holland, leading to war and subsequently to the annexation of Gorinchem to Holland in 1417. This resulted in increased trade and Gorinchem grew to be the eighth city of Holland.
On 9 July 1572, the Watergeuzen (Dutch rebels against Spanish rule) conquered the city and captured 19 Catholic priests and monks because they refused to renounce their faith. These priests and monks were brought to Brielle where they were hanged and were from then on known as the Martyrs of Gorkum.
In the 16th century the city walls were so deteriorated that they were replaced with new fortifications and eleven bastions, which still are almost completely intact. The new walls were rounded off in 1609 and were placed farther from the town centre, making the city twice as large. In 1673 Gorinchem became part of the old Dutch Water Line.
The city walls had four city gates: the Arkel Gate in the north, the Dalem Gate in the east, the Water Gate in the south (where the ferry to Woudrichem was), and the Kansel Gate in the west. Of these four gates only the Dalem Gate remains. The others were removed in the 19th century to make way for vehicular traffic. A portion of the Water Gate was