The main shopping street in Groningen is the Herestraat. No traffic is allowed here, only shoppers, hahaha, and of course everyone else that likes to walk through here :-)
This picture was taken on a Thursday afternoon, but it can be much crowdier than this. If you go on a Saturday afternoon... beware! It can get very crowded! In the Herestraat are the "big shops" that you can find in every city, for more unique and smaller (but much better I think) shops you have to walk around in the surrounding area.
Shopping hours :
On Thursday evening the shops are opened until 9 o'clock in the evening. On the other weekdays the shops close at 6 o'clock.
A lot of the shops in the city center are closed on the Monday morning.
The shops are closed on Sundays, except for a few Sundays per year which are called "koopzondag" (Buy Sunday). There are extra evening openings during Sint Nicolaas (which is celebrated on the 5th of December, so the shops will be longer open on the days before that). On the 5th of December itself the shops close earlier: at 5 o'clock in the afternoon.
The same goes for Christmas, the days before Christmas the shops are opened in the evening until 9 o'clock, but on the 24th (and also 31st) the shops close early : at 5 o'clock.
This page has come to an end, but before I do I want to show you one more photo. This is the stadsschouwburg / city theatre with its striking soft pink colour. This building is located on the "Turfsingel" and dates back to 1883.
I hope you enjoyed my tour around Groningen and got a bit of an idea what this city is like. And maybe you even got inspired to visit Groningen some day :-))) There is so much more to show you though, but that's for a next time! :-)) I am already making plans for another trip back 'home' and without a doubt I will visit Groningen again. So stay tuned for more 'beautiful Groningen' on this page some time in the future :-)
At the "Martini Kerkhof" don't forget to take a look at the left side of the Provinciehuis. You will notice that it is a bit different and much older than the rest of the building. And you are right about that! This is the oldest part of the Provinciehuis and it used to be the St. Meertensschool until 1601. It is not really known when it was built, maybe even before the "St.Martin's Church" was built. But it is certain that it dates back to the early 15th century.
This is the streetorgan in the main shopping street in Groningen.... I never really liked them, but on the other hand I did.... they do give a lot of atmosphere to the city but can be oh so annoying as well.
The distinct sound of the organ, the rattling of the money trays, asking for money... smiling kids looking at the organ, and adults avoiding it by walking in a large bow around it. Hahaha, I used to do that anyway. Makes me smile now though, seeing this picture, and hearing the sound of the organ in the back of my mind.... yes, it was nice, you will enjoy it. And think for a sec of me when you see and hear them...... and let me know if you liked it.
The most famous building of Groningen is the Martinitoren. This tower and the Martinichurch next to it are named after Saint Martin.
The medieval Martin of Tours (316-397) who was the patron of the diocese of Utrecht to which Groningen belonged for a long period.
According to the legend, St Martin shared his cloak with a beggar suffering from cold. Several paintings in the Church show St Martin as a horseman. He cuts his cloak in two and gives one half to the beggar. His saint's day is 11 November.
The city of Groningen is first mentioned in a document from 1040. So it is almost 1000 years officially exists, but be sure that it dates back to earlier times. The heart of the city (the Grote Markt) is located at the end of a 60 km long ridge (Hondsrug), which has its highest point here, at 6 m. above sea level. Two small rivers (Hunze and Aa) came from the south and were important for commerce from medieval times until the 19th century. Untill late 19th century the city also had an open connection to the sea. So water was always important here.
During the Middle Ages the city became the most important commercial center of the northern part of the Low Countries. A number of buildings still show how rich the city became during the 14th century. Groningen was a member of the Hanseatic League a powerful mercantile organization in northern europe. Warehouses alongside the Aa-river are dating from this period.
During the War of Independence (1568 – 1648), Groningen changed sides several times. In that time the Netherlands was not a united country. In 1614 the University of Groningen was founded, mainly as a place where the ministers for the new Protestant religion, as well as lawyers and medical doctors, could be educated. The University was given a former monastery right in the heart of the city as its main building.
During recent centuries Groningen saw emerging industries such as dairy food production, textiles, tobacco and breweries. Nowadays these small factories all went and Groningen and surroundings is known for its high rate of unemployability.
On top of the old "Provinciehuis" you can see this little statue. I have no clue who it is, I just thought it looked nice against the wonderful blue sky. I enjoy looking at little details and this "Provinciehuis" has lots of them! The statue however looked extra special against the blue sky, so I had to take a photo of it.
When walking through Groningen you encounter many pieces of art. Some statues are recognised instantly, but others do make you think.
If you want to know more about the statues there are organised tours with an expert.
See the website: http://www.burohba.nl/excursie/
Or book through the v v v.
The famous boardgame monopoly has its own dutch version with dutch cities and streets. Groningen is one of the cities on the board. Many times, years and years ago, we bought streets like Grote Markt, Heerestraat and A-kerkhof. And now we have seen this styreets in real life...... Would we ever buy them? In the game maybe, but not at the realestate office.
The Grote Markt, is the main square and the highest point in Groningen (6m above sealevel), it is the place for nightlife.
The Heerestraat is also in the citycentre, it is a shoppingstreet.
And finally the illusive A-kerkhof (A-graveyard), always wondered what it was when we were young. And now it turned out to be the street surrounding the A-church.
Kerkhof means graveyard, but taken apart it is church (kerk) and garden (hof).
When you enter the post office you have to look up and around you. The post office is a big hall, with high walls and ceilings. The whole interior is painted white giving the illusion of an enormous space..... mmmm, maybe it is an enormous space! Hahaha, I do know that I felt quite small in here ;-)) The white colour of the walls and ceilings are probably so striking because of the strong contrast with these little colourful accents, dozens of small figurines.
I don't know how many of these little figures were decorating the walls, about two dozen maybe. I just stared up to look at them, trying to figure out what they symbolised. Luckily my mom was with me to help me remember why I was here.... to buy stamps! I almost forgot as I was just in awe! Hahaha, so with stamps and a lot of ooooh's and aaaaah's later, we went on our way again..... next stop: the bakery!!! :-)
Post office: Munnekeholm 1
Everyone knows where Amsterdam is in The Netherlands. But did you ever heard of Groningen?? It might be a 'bit out of the way' being all the way up in the north, and not that so well known. But it is a wonderful city and absolutely worth a visit. I just love this place! And I know you won't regret making a detour to stroll around yourself in Groningen. So come visit!!!
For me visiting Groningen is a visit back in time! This is where I used to live as a little child, went daily to when I studied, and still visit whenever I do get the chance. My latest visit was in April 2005 on a beautiful spring day. I loved this day! Strolling around the city in the sun, watching all the historical buildings, seeing all those familiar places again....... and...... doing some shopping! Hahaha, not that I like shopping, but this was an exception :-) I went out to buy some really Dutch goodies to take home with me to Sweden :-) Delicious!
Ready to join me on a walk through Groningen..... than follow me..... here we goooo.....
The best place to start a tour of the city is at the Central Station in Groningen. But before we start of a round tour, let's take a look at the station itself. This is not 'just' a station. It is a beautiful building.
The station dates back to 1895 and it is a beautiful building. But if you think this station looks great on the outside, you really have to see the inside! Come, walk with me through these doors and have a look....
Okay, we are inside now. Let's turn around and take a look at those doors that you just entered through..... amazing aren't they! It is like walking into a different world....
I love the way the light filters through the doors and the half round window above it. All those little details and attention that has been paid to the design are just wonderful to look at. The station is from 1896 and was designed by L. Gosschalk. He was inspired by Dutch-Flemish Gothic and Renaissance style. In the interior you can also see lots of Jugendstil. The station is full of ornaments and details and the main material that has been used to build this station is redbrick and Oberküchner stone.
This hallway, in which we stand now, is 20 by 20 meters and 14 meters high. It is amazingly beautiful. Let me show you a bit more of this hallway in the next few tips......
Now look around you, and wow, look up... do you see that ceiling!
I was really amazed by what I saw! This is actually not the station that I remember. When I went to Groningen all these beautiful walls and ceilings were covered up by new white, boring walls. A couple of years ago they decided to restore the station into its old glory and tore away all the new walls and ceiling.... and this is what they discovered underneath it!!! Isn't it beautiful!
I am so glad they decided to restore it like this, it is so beautiful now.... hard to imagine it is a station. But maybe it isn't so hard to imagine... it is like going back in time.... can you imagine people walking here in 1835... I can!
Details, details, details.... there is so much to see here, it is hard to decide where to look! This is one of the walls and part of the ceiling of the hallway of the station. In the middle you can see a staircase clinging to the wall. On either sides of the staircase you have some beautiful and colourful tile work. You really have to see this for yourself!