Campanile - Gorinchem
Franklinweg 1, , Gorinchem, Zuid-Holland 4207 HX
More about Gorinchem
Map of Gorinchem and surroundings
Lake, view of the Dutch countryside
Lake, view of the Dutch countryside
Tree in Dutch landscape
Travel Tips for Gorinchem
At the joining of three rivers
Water has always been the key element in the success and welfare of Gorinchem (Gorcum in medieval times). The large "Merwede" river is running South of the town and it's wide waters were as well a blessing as a danger for the town. It was used as fishing ground (salmon!), defensive allie and for transport. From the Merwede one could directly sail to France and Belgium (Maas/Meusse), the Northsea and Germanyas far as Switzerland (Rhine). The impressive waterworks that safegaurd the town and the quite large water level differences noticed between Merwede and Linge.
Water, in wide and smaller rivers
Now-a-days the small "Linge" river has not importance anymore for transport over water, but in medieval times this small, but safe and calm river running from between Arnhem and Nijmegen all the way West to Gorinchem (where it ends again the Rhine-water from where it started out off) was intensively used for transport of agricultural products in the region. Food was of vital importance for the towns and was grown almost always in the surrounding regions. The Linge provided a wide backland from where a large range of vegetables and especially fruits (Betuwe) were brought to Gorinchem and sold on the local market. Added with fish and meat, the markets were very important places of trade. The "Linge" is in present days a river that is attractive for watersports like canoeing and boating.
Various rivers in NL means various waterlevels
The fact that Gorinchem is situated on so many different waters, it is one of the places where one can see impressively good what kind of intensive waterhoushold the Netherlands have. The Linge river is entering Gorinchem on the North-Eastern side and has here two large locks that can regulate the waterlevels outside and inside the town. The most impressive lock however is the outer harbour lock connecting the Linge with the wide Merwede river. this quite narrow lock has on one side (Linge, innerharbour) a waterlevel that is several meters lower then the outside (Merwede, outerharbour). This is then even with normal waterlevels, but in extreme situations this can make a picture of pure terror. Imagine a wall of water waiting just outside the town, until something with the dikes or the bastion walls goes wrong. No wonder that in medieval times the worst enemy (and best friend) of Gorcum was ... the water.
Gorinchem centre around the old Sint Jan
Like almost all medieval towns, Gorinchem appeared as a settlement around a church. Gorinchem settled around the Sint Jan's church (Saint John). First this was a Rman Catholic church, but after the reformation it became a protestant one. This happened with many Dutch churches and only few later returned to their original destination. Special thing of the Gorcumse Sint Jan is it's tower, that is very crooked. When during the construction the tower started to sink, one stabilised it more or less and then went on in a straight line upwards. The bend in the tower is very clearly visible. More in the must see tips.
Above all a "vestingstad" = fortified town
Gorinchem belongs to the "vestingdriehoek". Translated that is the fortresses triangle. In the junction of three provinces and three rivers, in the past centuries one fortress after another appeared as defencelines on all sides. Gorinchem, Woudrichem and Zaltbommel are three town that are turned into fortresses by large bastion-walls. Fortress Vuren was a more modern fort and the castle of Loevestein used to be the state prison of the Seven Provinces. As not much has been changed over the years, the most beautiful thing of it all is that you now-a-days can step back in time and enjoy defensive systems of medieval, renaissance and 19th century style.