you can see the Koppelpoort from the train, if you travel from Amersfoort to the North of the land.
But it's much better to stand in front of it, and walk around.
Sorry, I can't tell you much about the history of it, only that I see the building a few times a week, and I still
like to see it. So come and have a look
Maybe here you can find out how a boulder made it's way into Amersfoort. The Netherlands is about as well known for big rocks as Southern Louisiana is. The museum Flehite is in an attractivly set building and to get into it requires a walk on a bridge over the canal. It's just a short walk south from the Koppelpoort and covers diverse topics such as local geology, history, and art. The cost to enter is four euros for adults and it's in a nice, quiet part of the old town.
The Koppelpoort ('coupling gate') dates from around 1400 AD and was so named because it was a gate to both land and waterway. It used to be part of a citywall surrounding the city, but the wall is no longer standing.
The Koppelpoort was important for the defence of Amersfoort, because it protected the city from potential attacks from the river Eem. From an wooden extension above the gate hot oil or boiling malt could be poured onto the attackers. The gate was also used to regulate the waterlevel inside the city.
The Mannenzaal was built around 1530 as a guesthouse for men alongside the women's guesthouse (which no longer exists). It was a big hall where men could receive board and lodging till the end of their days if they gave up all their posessions.
The men slept in small "cupboard-beds" (sometimes even two men in one bed) and, nestled in an alcove, each man had a chamber pot. Next to each bed stood a chair and a table and a wooden box for clothes.
The Mannenzaal remained in use until the early twentieth century and gives a good impression of what life was like for the elderly in earlier times. The interior is still the same and as such, the Mannenzaal is practically unique in Europe.
The Mannenzaal is part of the Flehite museum but can be visited independently for 1 Euro.
Opened tue-fri 11:00-17:00, weekend 13:00-17:00. Closed on mondays and holidays.
Going to Amersfoort I knew they have a brewery. Well, usually I don't skip them. But this day I didn't realize that the only people that would drink on a Monday afternoon are either jobless students (like me) or alcoholics. So to my great disappointment the brewery was closed.
Amersfoort used to depend on its brewery, producing the drink in over 300 establishments. De drieringen (the three rings) is one of the oldest breweries in town and still produces its beer in a traditional way.
All I could do is stand in front of the building and to feel sorry for myself. Its large windows allow you to take a look inside. Well, if not to drink there then at least to take a look at it. And this is how I managed to take the picture you see here.
I'll have to go back, so I'll be able to write the beer review here :)
Walking along the canal from the Koppel Gate back to the city center I stoped to take some pictures of the canal. On both sides of the canal you can see beautiful old buildings. When there are so many houses it is hard to try to find out what's the story of each of the them. But something did catch my eye. This was one of these moments when I was happy that I can read some Dutch and that some words in this language came from English and French. I saw a sign on one of the houses, it said De Nederlandse Beiaardschool" the Dutch carillion school.
I couldn't even imagine that something like this exists. And the questions was what do they teach? How to plaly carillon or how to build it?
Our tourist information brochure revealed that there are only two of these schools in the world and one of them is here, in Amersfoort.
Inside the school there is a permanemt exhibition which shows different techiniques to play carillons, as well as documents, keyboards and models of bell towers.
Unfortunatelly, visit to the Carillons school is only available by appointment and only between 9am and 11am. We were a bit late.
At least I learned a new word, now I know that the name of a person that rigs bells of a church is carillonneur.
My grandparents did tell me stories about the concentration camps when I was a little kid, as I was growing not much of it were mentioned. Being Israeli, I assume that I do know about the holocaust a bit more than a citizen of any other country. But Amersfoort was the place where I learned that German concentration camps existed in the Netherlands.
Amersfoort has a synagogue. In fact there are two of them. One of them doesn't function anymore, but it is an interesting building with purple glass windows. Another one is located in what we believed used to be a Jewish quarter and still used for Jewish services. If you carefully look at the entrances of some houses you’ll notice a Star of David right by a doorstep.
Intrigued by what I found, I later made my little research a found out about the Nazi's concentration camp called "Polizeiliches Durchgangslager Amersfoort" or simply Police Camp, located on the highway between Utrecht and Amersfoort. For Belgian and Dutch Jews this was the camp from which later they were sent to Poland for execution. Later it was discovered that not only Jewish people tortured and died in this camp. After the liberation 450 survivors were found and only a few of them where Jewish.
Walking around the quarter and taking pictures, I couldn't even imagine what I will learn later. Googling, I just wanted to find out whether there was a big Jewish community in the city, but what I found instead was this sad and shocking historical fact.
I probably wouldn't pay any attention to Der Zyklus if the tourist office brochure didn't mention it. Fascinated by Amersfoort's architecture I didn't particularly look on the pavement, preferring to look up and admire the historical buildings.
The bronze plates were the idea of Norbert Rademacher, who placed his art around the wall houses (another great architectural attraction) in 1996. There are seven of these plates. Each represents a day of a week, from Monday to Sunday, and the 7 planets.
Amersfoort has a real beautiful architecture. Being medieval city, it has a lot of interesting buildings, each of which has its own story to tell. Often, walking around towns I see how modern architecture can spoil the whole look of a city. Amersfoort is different. Even the modern buildings nicely blend in with the historical structures.
I’m sure the city has enough "ugly" constructions, but it is great that the old city center remains the way it was many centuries ago.
The boulder is the reason why Amersfoort called the Stone City. Apparently jokes and bets were known in 17th century. An estate owner Everard Meyster had discovered a huge rock nearby the town and bet his friends that he'll convince the people of the city to carry it to its center, Varkensmarkt (pigs market). Bribed with pretzels and beer, about 400 citizens brought the boulder to the city with their bare hands. But soon got upset, when people of Amersfoort started laughing at them and even hanging posters featuring the stone carriers'. The angry and desperate carriers buried the boulder and it wasn't dug out until the beginning of the 20th century.
Since then, people of Amerfoort forgave Meyster for his evil joke and started celebrating an annual event called Boulder Town Celebrations.
Nowadays the Boulder is standing on a special pedestal on the intersection of Stadsring and Arnhemsweg, which is leading to the Varkensmarkt, the place where all the story started.
This museum on local history is housed in three gorgeos wall houses that were built around 1500 in the location of the old city wall. It gives an impression of life in and around Amersfoort from prehistory untill now.
Opened tue-fri 11:00-17:00, weekend 13:00-17:00. Closed on monday and holidays.
Entrance costs 5 Euro and includes a visit to the Mannenhuis, across the street.
Amersfoort used to be renowned for its many quality beer breweries. Now only one brewery is left, De Drie Ringen (The Three Rings); fortunately it is open to the public. On te wall there are some displays with information on the brewing process (in Dutch) and, more importantly, you can enjoy a nice local beer.
Opened thu-sat 13:00-19:00. Entrance is free.
Amersfoort used to have a citywall which probably became redundant in the fifteenth century and was torn down. Not wanting to waste the costly bricks, people recycled them in the houses that were built where the wall once stood. Over the centuries these wallhouses were renovated, broken down and built up again, resulting in a mishmash of styles and sizes.
The street 'muurhuizen' follows the outline of the former city wall and is filled with these lovely old houses.
Running like a ring around a part of the centre is a street named Muurhuizen, which means 'wall houses'. Why is it named like that? Because the houses on the outer side of this street were built at the location of the first city-wall, of which often complete parts were incorporated, when a second wall had been built that protected a much greater area. The result is a series of picturesque medieval houses, sometimes with towers and at least one with a gate.
This former Roman Catholic church in neo-classical style was built in 1820 as a replacement for a nearby hidden church. It is called Elleboogkerk ('elbow church') for reasons I cannot explain here. Today the building houses a museum dedicated to the work of artist Armando, who was born in Amersfoort. This artist, who grew up near a concentrationcamp, is obsessed by 'the beauty of evil' so be warned for plenty of references to war and misery!