As I am interested in history of towns and often run to visit all the historical buildings forgetting that not only the featured tourist attractions can be interesting.
This is how we ended up in one of the residential areas of Amersfoort. Walking from one site to another we had to pass through a neigborhood with a beautiful canal and bridges that lead to people's houses. It almost looked like a countryside. The only difference was the paved road by the canal that reminded us that Amersfoort is not a little place in the woods every time a car drove by.
This city is truly different and worth exploring every corner.
Favorite thing: Only half an hour by train from Amsterdam and one is in Amersfoort. Every 15 minutes a train leaves to this great place that offers a whole different scenery then Amsterdam, still typically Dutch, but a lot less hectic and crazy then the capitol. Maybe even more Dutch, as you will not be overrun by tourists here.
Amersfoort has just a whole own atmosphere that I cannot compare with any other town. The nearby Utrecht (just twenty kilometres to South-West is much larger and therefor busy and hectic. Amersfoort radiates - even on busy days - a calm and suiting atmosphere.
Fondest memory: The medieval dressed up people on the marketsquare, that were really into their roles.
The Amersfoort VVV (Local Tourist Office is located near the train station at:
3818 LE Amersfoort
Telephone: 0900 - 112 2364
Amersfoort Your Way
Amersfoort is a town with almost no public toilets (like most Dutch cities).
The best one is the toilet in the train station main hall. Fee 50 Eurocents and there's a cleaning lady present.
On the station platforms are also toilets, but these are unmanned and look like bank vault. It's very high tech, but very low in people freindlyness. Also 50 Euro cents.
In the city some of the parking garages have toilets and otherwise the V&D department store (La Place restaurant) is there.
After closing times of the shops, it's just bars and restaurants you can visit (not just for bathroom usage).
Amersfoort is known as "Keistad" (Keystone city). This dates back to a bet that was made to pull a heavy 7 ton rock from the moorland into town. Well in 1661 400 inhabitants did the job and celebrated the fact with beer and pretzels.
In 1672 the whole thing was treated as a foolish act and the rock was burried at the Varkensmarkt.
In 1903 the feeling was different and the rock was un-earthed.
From 1953 it's located at the Stadsring, corner Arnhemsestraat.
In the 1970's City Rock Events are organized yearly and pulling rocks from all over the world is one of the parts of the festivities. Many of these rocks can be seen in the greens of the Stadsring.
Fondest memory: Rocks.
The remains of the city wall along the stadsring are those of the third wall dating from the 14th century.
The first wall was an earth wall, later replaced by a stone wall.
Fondest memory: The special walking path around the city wall.
Favorite thing: I know few places where modern architecture combines so tastefully with the historic heritage. True, not everything is equally great, not even in Amersfoort, but some examples are so well-designed that Amersfoort is worthy of laudation just for those. The proportions are well-chosen, as well as the materials that are used. I especialy like this one. Reminds of a medieval city-gate, doesn't it? I bet it never won a prize. Most modern architects will ridicule this sort of thing. Not pretentious enough, too modest in a time when high rise is the norm. Well, here was one architect who thought his work should fit in its environment rather than to dwarf it.
The most common European emergency number 112 (following Directive 2002/22/EC: Universal Service Directive) and also standard on GSM mobile phones. 112 is used in Austria, Belgium, Bulgaria, Croatia, Cyprus, Czech Republic, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Hungary, Iceland, Ireland, Italy, Latvia, Liechtenstein, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Republic of Macedonia, Malta, Netherlands, Norway, Poland, Portugal, Romania, Serbia, Slovakia, Slovenia, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, Ukraine and the United Kingdom in addition to their other emergency numbers.
Here are some useful phone numbers that you might need while in Netherlands:
Police (non-urgent): 0900-8844
Below few words that you can use while traveling in Holland:
good morning = goedemorgen
good afternoon = goedemiddag
good evening = goedenavond
see you = tot ziens
see you soon = tot gauw
yes = ja
no = nee
maybe = misschien
are you sure? (of it) = ben je daar zeker van?
of course! = natuurlijk!
thank you (formal) = dank U wel
thank you (informal) = dank je wel
thanks (casual) = bedankt
please (polite) - also: here you are = alstublieft
Mr. and Sir = meneer (mijnheer)
Mrs. and Ma'am = mevrouw
Miss = juffrouw
have fun = veel plezier
happy dreams = welterusten
bless you = gezondheid!
have a nice meal = eet smakelijk!
coffee = koffie
tea = thee
milk = melk
whipped cream = slagroom
sugar = suiker
coffee with milk = koffie verkeerd
bred = brood
cheese sandwich = broodje kaas
ham sandwich = broodje ham
french fries = friet
sea = zee
beach = strand
lake = meer
bicycle = fiets
train = trein
airplane = vliegtuig
bus = bus
auto = auto
departure = vertrek
arrival = aankomst
bedroom = slaapkamer
bed = bed
pillow = kussen
blanket = deken
bath = bad
bathroom = badkamer
towel = handdoek
very good (food) = erg lekker
Amersfoort hosts the biggest free outdoor Jazzfestival in the Netherlands. Throughout the old city centre there are several stages where you can watch and listen to Dutch and international jazz artists. Even so it is still mostly a local event, which means crowds don't get too big. And as with all good jazz festivals the atmosphere is relaxed and friendly. You can meet people of all ages.
Saterday night always closes with Dutch saxophone legend Hans Dulfer mixing his sax with dj Kikke's dancebeats. You can experience some of their sounds on youtube:
This year (2007) the festival took place in the second weekend in May, from friday evening till sunday afternoon.
Check www.keistadjazz.nl for info.
The square now known as Varkensmarkt (Pigs market) used to be the St. Joostenplaats till 1552. In that year the pigs market was relocated from the Appelplaats to the Varkensmarkt.
Underneath the Varkensmarkt was the covered Hellegracht (Hell canal).
In 1984 the "Vrouw en de Zakkendrager" statue by sculpture Marius van Beek made of Sardinian granite was placed at the Varkensmarkt.
The text DIE TREKKEN DOOR HET WATER, DIE TREKKEN DOOR DE STEEN dates back to the early years of Amersfoort.
Thanks to Olaf_s I now know this is the Great or Saint joris church.
Strangely enough I did not recognize it, have only seen it from the front after parking our car in it s neighbourhood.
One day I hope to really visit this church.