Who doesn’t know Piet Mondriaan? He is a famous dutch artist and an important contributor to the movement and group called De Stijl. This style of painting consisted of white ground, upon which was painted a grid of vertical and horizontal black lines and the three primary colors. In 1872 Mondriaan was born in the city of Amersfoort and the house he was born in has been transformed into a museum called the Mondriaanhuis (The Mondriaan House). The museum lies right in the historical centre of Amersfoort.
The enclosed building of the Christian primary school, where the father of Mondriaan was headmaster, has also been incorporated in the museum building. In 1994, the house and the school were opened as a library and documentation centre. Since 2001 the Mondriaan House has been the only museum for constructive and concrete art in the Netherlands. We had a good look at it, took some pictures and entered it. A shame that we didn’t have enough time to actually visit the museum. We will be back :)
The Sint Joriskerk is built in 1243, then burned down in 1370, this church and covered market was reconstructed then enlarged in 1534. The interior preserves staged arches from the Romanesque period, and a tower-porch supporting three Gothic naves and fresco fragments at the west wall. We admired some fine details of the Gothic rood screen in sandstone, which separates the chancel from the nave and, and the funerary monument by architect Jacob van Campen (17C). In this case you will need to look at the ground many times as there are much more tombs to admire.
This is a church with a long history, for instance it suffered three times from the infamous Iconoclast. Don’t forget to go to the so called Cirurgijnskamer. This small room is a bit hidden behind a very small door right next to the main entrance. A narrow staircase will lead to this rather particular room. It provides a great view at the square Hof and also an insight in the life of the surgeons of the middle ages. We did love our visit to the Sint Joriskerk!
Although we were quite early when we first arrived at the Sint Joriskerk we were already allowed to enter it. Do keep in mind that you need to pay a small entrance fee of €1,- per person. A huge advantage of our early arrival was the fact that there were almost no tourists. Either the bus / coach was still on his way or everybody was having a breakfast in their hotel. Whenever we visit a church the kids always want to burn a candle, it has become a bit of a tradition. The Sight of burning votive candles - real or electronic - is common in most Catholic churches. The candles are usually placed before statues of saints or at shrines. But how did this tradition get its start?
According to A Handbook of Catholic Sacramentals, by Ann Ball, the practice of lighting candles in order to obtain some favor probably has its origins in the custom of burning lights at the tombs of the martyrs in the catacombs. The lights burned as a sign of solidarity with Christians still on earth. Because the lights continually burned as a silent vigil, they became known as vigil lights. Vigil Lights (from the Latin vigilia, which means "waiting" or "watching") are traditionally accompanied by prayers of attention or waiting. Another common type of candle offering is the votive light. Such an offering is indicative of seeking some favor from the Lord or the saint before which the votive is placed. So for us lighting a candle is a way of extending our prayer and showing solidarity with the person on whose behalf our prayer is offered.
Amersfoort's origins date back to the days of the Roman Empire, which makes it one of the oldest cities in The Netherlands. Remains of settlements in the Amersfoort area from 1000 BC have been found. The city grew around what is now known as the central square called the Hof. Right here at the north eastern part of the square you will find the Sint Joriskerk (Saint George’s Church), it simply can’t be missed. Its earliest predecessor was built in the 12th century and is the oldest part of the current church. Without a doubt the oldest church in Amersfoort.
Apart from several smaller additions in Gothic style, the church is still completely Romanesque. By a kind of an accident we ended up by this amazing historical building. We just did some window shopping at the street called Langestraat and wanted to have a lunch with a nice refreshment at the Hof (the main square). Once walked around the corner towards the square we immediately saw the façade of the church. Damn those refreshments … we wanted to get in!
Many Dutch cities were built around canals. Alkmaar, Utrecht, Dordrecht, Leiden, Groningen, Leeuwarden and Amersfoort are cities with cityscapes that are characterized by graceful canals. Of course, Amsterdam has the best-known canals. The Amsterdam Canal District is on the UNESCO World Heritage List, and the city has even been nicknamed the “Venice of the North”. Compared to this the canals of Amersfoort are rather small, so expect too much about it, but still it is a pleasure to visit.
We did continue our hike along the canals and this took us all along the Weverssingel and its beautiful “Muurhuizen”. Finally we ended up at the Zuidsingel and by that time we ended our hike along the beautiful canals. Another way to explore the canals of Amersfoort is by boat. Amersfoort has very small canals, so the canal boat trip is also made by a small boat. Good thing about this is the fact that this guarantees personal attention by the guide. There are three routes to choose from and they all depart from 11 o’clock in the morning till 4 o’clock in the afternoon. We had no time to take a tour, but it sure looked like a good time at those boats and enjoy the picturesque Amersfoort from the water level.
For more information about the canal tours, do contact:
Telephone: +31 (0)33 – 465 4636
The city map of Amersfoort showed us that we easily could walk our way around the historic old city center by following the canals. From the square called Lieve Vrouwekerkhof, where the Lieve Vrouwetoren was situated we returned to the Westsingel and hiked next to the canal and ended at the Zuidsingel. Here we had a nice turn leading us back to the city center via the canal called Kortegracht. Right here we saw the Mondriaanhuis, the place of birth of the famous painter Mondriaan.
We kept on going to the spot where the Kortegracht becomes the Langegracht. Do look up and admire the beautiful medieval facades of the houses. At the end of the Langegracht we saw the canal Grote Spui with a beautiful view at the famous Koppelpoort of Amersfoort. We kept on hiking as we realized we were only halfway the route we wanted to walk along the canals. Next stop was the Havik, right there we saw the Bloemendaalse Binnenpoort and the Appelmarkt. What a great part of town is that! For us a beautiful hidden gem and did enjoy the vibe and did some looking around.
Amersfoort is a beautiful medieval Dutch city with many historic buildings, canals and other historical remains. It is located in the heart of the Netherlands and therefore point zero of the Dutch geodetic datum system “Rijksdriehoeksmeting”, that is located under the tower of the Onze Lieve Vrouwetoren in the old city center. When we arrived in Amersfoort we parked our car just outside the old city center. We immediately walked our way up to the impressive Onze Lieve Vrouwetoren as it towers over the skyline of Amersfoort and therefore does have this great attraction to go there first. After our visit we were on a point what to do next and how to explore the city of Amersfoort the proper way.
We took the city map of Amersfoort and saw that it was a good idea to follow the canals that seemed to go right through the historical city center. The canals were constructed in the 17th century to enable development of new neighbourhoods surrounding the city centre. The canals were used for water management, transportation and defense purposes. Nowadays, the canals are mainly used for recreational activities. Motor boats, canal tour boats, pedal boats and canoes sail through the canals year round, and you can even skate through the city centre during those severe winters when the canals freeze over.
Just about the time we wanted to leave the church tower, something special happened. We already were outside and by then someone of the tourist office called us to come inside again. She was not allowed to give us the full tour and not upstairs to the viewing point. But she kind of felt bad and did show us around a bid. Opening some doors and giving us a nice impression of the inside structure of the Onze Lieve Vrouwetoren. We were pleasantly surprised by the gesture for which we didn’t even had to pay any money. Thank you very much and a job very well done!
She was also able to tell us some more background information about the impressive tower, like the fact that the church also has been used for other purposes than worshiping. It was used as a storage place for ammunition and as laboratory for the manufacturing of shells. She also had some nice info about the tower being the middle point of the Dutch grid reference system. Finally she took us outside and told us some more about the twelve consoles on the tower. I guess that conversations like this is what travelling is all about, getting the info from the true locals! We loved it!
It’s fun to know that the Onze Lieve Vrouwetoren is the third highest church tower in the Netherlands. It does have a nickname, namely “Lange Jan” (Long John). We couldn’t find out why this nickname has been given, but anyway … it was time for us to explore the tower. We were very disappointed that we only were able to enter the hall / lobby and not actually enter the tower itself. This is only possible at a fixed time, like two o’clock in the afternoon. We walked our way to the nearby tourist information center and they told us that it was possible to have a tour at 11 o’clock (it was 10 o’clock) if there were enough participants. The price for the entrance and the hike way to the top of the church was €4,- per adult, which of course is fine. Because we only had one day to discover Amersfoort we had no intention to wait an hour and still have no idea whether we were able to enter it. So keep this in mind whenever you visit Amersfoort.
We return to the beautiful tower and again had another good look at the hall / lobby of the Onze Lieve Vrouwetoren. We saw some nice paintings, admired the beautiful stained glass windows and had a good look at the structure of the brick stones. In our guide book we read that a first chapel this site was constructed in the 14th century. In the 15th century the chapel was replaced by new church with three aisles. When the tower was built is not exactly known.
During our car drive towards Amersfoort we did some research on our smart phone about the city of Amersfoort. The first thing we read was the fact that the city houses the 98,33 meters high Onze Lieve Vrouwetoren. This means that it is one of the highest church tower of the Netherlands. We parked our car at the Q Parc at the Sint-Joris square and via the stairs we walked our way up to the ground level. After our eyes were adjusted to the sun light we immediately spotted the huge tower rising at the skyline. There is no way you will miss out on this eye-catching monument. Of course seeing this tower did attract us and we definitely had to visit the Onze Lieve Vrouwetoren at first, before even seeing something else of the city of Amersfoort.
We approached the tower from the back side from the Westsingel and crossed the canal and all of a sudden we stood in front of this impressing tower. We made some pictures and by that time I realized that I was missing the church that was supposed to be adjoining to this tower. Later on we learned that the church that belonged to the tower was destroyed by a gunpowder explosion in the 18th century. Therefore there is only the tower left, making it a quite impressive and unique landmark indeed.
Annually held early in may, with up to seven stages in the old town of Amersfoort. A whole weekend of jazz, variating from big band, chambermusic to latin. With big names and newcomers. Free admission, but above all: a great atmosphere!
You should try this !
Take the chance to experience a nice flight on a hot air Balloon over the city (~1hr).
You will have a nice remember of this experience and at the end of your flight you will even get a certificate.
In 1998 the Armando Museum opened in the former Elleboogkerk (Elbow church).
Armando is one of the major post-war artists of the Netherlands.
It's an active museum where you can enjoy the paintings, sculptures, artwork, pictures and literature of Armando.
October 22, 2007 Update: Sadly enough on this day the museum caught fire, while the roof was renovated. Most of the collection was destroyed in the fire.
February 3, 2008 Update: The museum reopened at the nearby St. Aegtenkapel at ’t Zand 37.
Amersfoort has very small canals, so the canal boat trip is made by a small boat.
This guarantees personal attention by the guide/pilot.
There are 3 routes to choose from.
Business hours May through October:
Mo: From 2PM to 4.30PM
Tu-Sa: From 11AM to 4.30PM
Su: From 1PM to 4.45PM
The Gilde Amersfoort is a local senior citizens organisation, that among many things organises guided city tours.
Koppelpoort (the wellknown city gate at the North-side of town)
Mannenzaal (Old hospital)
Onze Lieve Vrouwetoren (Going up the tower; April till October)
Gardens & City Walls
Gilde city quarter (Historical inner city)
Kattenbroek city quater (Architecture)