The Crackstate is in the historical part of the center of Heerenveen and is still in use as a representative section of this part of town. The mayor and the aldermen have their rooms and the famous main hall serves as a wedding hall. This hall was designed in the 18th century in the style of Louis XVI. This room is still intact and was restored in the extensive restoration of 1976.
It’s fun to walk all around the Crackstate and this immediately will give the unexpected effect that I have seen in many dutch city centers. At the right side of the Crackstate you will see a horrible new part totally not in the style of the Crackstate itself. Way to modern for this part of town. Such a shame indeed and I don’t understand why this done this way, unbelievable! The last funny fact is that the bridge over the moat surrounding the Crackstate was built in 1770. However the fence in front of the building dates only from the beginning of the nineteenth century and comes from Hoorn (where I was born). It’s just a nice little detail I guess … :)
If you want to visit the Crackstate be sure that you enter it via the streets of the Oude Koemarkt. For me it is always a bit overwhelming to have a look at it via this way. You will see the old and historical buildings of the square to the left and right, and right in the middle the Crackstate stands out. It is a fascinating view indeed!
Looking at its beautiful façade will make you realize that it was a good decision to have it operate as a courthouse. The beauty of the facade and its grandeur is just right for such an important feature. It asks for respect! From 1811 to 1945 the Crackstate served as a courthouse. In the course of the nineteenth century, while it served as a courthouse, several renovations took place. They placed some plaster on the façade (which disappeared in 1952), the old windows were replaced by the current ones and at the back of the Crackstate a small prison was built. In 1923 the Crackstate was demoted to a small justice of peace court that only decided on issues related to family, fines and labor disputes.
Every time when I visit the city of Heerenveen and I do enter the old historical part of the city center I have the urge to have a look at the Crackstate, a true landmark of Heerenveen. This famous landmark is a symbol for the city and maybe even for the entire province of Friesland. It is simply a breathtaking building and I love to watch at it time after time.
There are a lot of stories going around about this beautiful building. One story I can easily deny on being true and that is the fact that the Crackstate has never been a castle. The building does not date from the Middle Ages, it was not moated by a ditch and has no defensive structures, to name a few features of a medieval castle. You could call it a house of a nobleman, because the Crackstate was only inhabited by successive generations of the family Crack. One of the family members, John Sytzes Crack had the old house replaced by the current building in 1648.
The city of Heerenveen is not very old yet, compared to other Dutch cities. It is founded in 1551 by three noblemen who wanted to exploit the peat - a very popular fuel in those days. Nowaday, there are not many remains of the early days, except the canals used for the exploitation of the peat. What's left are some of the majestic houses the noblemen left in, like Crackstate (1608) - currently in use as city hall or Oenema state - a former city hall and currently a grand café. Apart from that Heerenveen got some typical Dutch old windmills. For a city-walk start at the Dracht (the former main road through the city, nowadays shopping street) and walk up north to Crackstate. From there the Fok along the Heeresloot and finish at the mill on your right hand. And that won't take a whole day...... Currently Heerenveen is most well-known for its sporting facilities. One of the fastest low-land 400 m. ice rinks is located here. If you prefer football, check out SC Heerenveen.
Very close (3 km) to the city of Heerenveen is Oranjewoud, the former summer residence of the Dutch van Oranje Nassau dynasty(hence the name). Yes, the same family is the Dutch royal family these days. The majestic houses are sometimes open for the public. The woody surroundings are perfect for a stroll. If you just want to look, take a view from the Belvedère.