The Monnikendam is a watergate. Here the water from various streams entered the town, which was a potential weak spot in Amersfoort's defense, reason why they built this gate in the 15th century. At night the gate was closed.
The name Monnikendam means something like "monks' dam" and probably has something to do with the big monastery nearby.
The Koppelpoort (this means something like 'coupled gate') is one of three remaining gates from the Middle Ages. This is the most special one, a double gate with seperate passages for land and for water. It dates from ca. 1400 and was part of the second city-wall. It's not completely original, restorations came with a few changes, but it is one of the major sights of Amersfoort ayway.
Apart from the three gates and the wallhouses, on several locations parts of the actual city walls remind of the medieval times that Amersfoort was a strengthened town. Until the early 19th century these walls restricted the growth of the town, and much was demolished when Amersfoort expanded its territory, until in 1844 the government put a halt on this.
"Armen de poth" (don't ask me to translate this) is an old court with houses and a chapel. Until 1957 old and poor people lived here for free. It's an old institution but the houses date from the 19th century. The chapel was built in 1507. It was dedicated to St. Rochus, protector against the black plague, which seems to indicate that the first inhabitants of the court were not only old and poor but sick as well.
Museum Flehite is Amersfoort's museum of local history. It is housed in an old building that was enlarged and rebuilt in neo-renaissance style in 1898-1899 by local architect H. Kroes. The museum is named after the name of the area around the year 800, Flethite. An error made during the deciphering of an old document provided the name Flehite, ommitting a T.
This is the tallest building of Amersfoort.It has a height of 98meters to reach the top you have to climb 346 stairs,but its worthwhile because the view is magnificent.The building of the tower was started in 1444 and was finished in 1500.The tower is also nicknamed lange Jan(long John)
Perhaps not so much a must-see, but I mention it anyway as it is a nice looking building and I like to emphasize that Amersfoort is especially rich in neo-Classical churches, not so much in other styles. The Roman Catholic St. Franciskus Xavieriuskerk was built in 1816-1817 in replacement of a clandestine church which previously stood on this location.
The St. Joris wasn't always Amersfoort biggest church. For several centuries the Onze Lieve Vrouwekerk ('Church of Our Lady') was the city's largest. But in 1787 an enormous explosion made an end to the building. The church, which at that time was used for the storage of gunpowder, was turned into a ruin, the last parts of which were demolished early in the 19th century. Only the tower, known as the Onze Lieve Vrouwetoren ('Tower of Our Lady'), has survived and is regarded one of the most important Gothic towers in the country. It closely resembles the tower of Utrecht's cathedral, and although it's not unique in that respect it is one of the best copies.
Little bit left aside on the point where the "Koppelpoort" and Flehite-museum are the main attractions, the Sint Franciscus Xaverius church is a wonderful building screened off by two large trees. It is situated little further from the Saint Aegten-chapel into the street calles "t Zand", which is clearly visible when arriving in this section of Amersfoort. The church is still used for messes, but also holds choir singings.
As I told the central square of Amersfoort does not bare a name with "Markt" in it. Still, the "Hof" as it is called holds a beautiful small market building, flanking on the sides of the Sint Joris church. The building is more or less a roof that is nicely decorated on the sides, to provide a dry place for the more rich traders, though the general goods were sold outside (whatever weather it was). In the roof there was some storage space and in the little room in the back the market administrator did his job.
Not many cities in The Netherlands have so many as there are in Amersfoort, which shows how large the citywall must have been then: "Muur huizen" = Wall houses.
Amersfoort?s city wall was partly brooken down during the 15th century and the bricks and stones were used to build new houses. Some of them even stand straight on top of fundaments that the wall left behind and thus the houses are more or less in a circle following the contours of the old wall.
In most Dutch towns the central sqaure is called "Grote Markt" (Big Market) or something appointing to the trade that was made here (it was one of the city rights to hold market on certain days). In Amersfoort however this place is called "Hof" (Court). This central place was the anyway marketsquare and is surrounded by beautiful traders houses. In present days many of them have changed into HORECA-businesses (HOtels, REstaurants of CAfe's). This way it still is a busy and cosy place, especially in weekends and summertime, when the terraces are buzzing with life.
Presumably one of the oldest buildings of Amersfoort. The Sint Joris (Saint Georges) was founded as a chapel between 1132 and 1196. When Amersfoort became a city the town decided to need a larger church and the chapel was turned into a modest crusific basilic church under bishop Jan van Diest. Finished construction already in 1337 it is one of the oldest in it's almost unchanged form within The Netherlands. Only damages through cityfires and warfare made some repairs necessary. The original form was somewhat altered in the 15th century, when the sidewings were broadened to offer more space within the churches mid-ship.
Across the canal and the street of the Flehitemuseum one finds the chapel of Saint Pieters and Blokland Gasthuis (Guesthouse). Part of this 14th century sanctuary for elderly people is the remaining
"mannenzaal" men's hall. This part dates a 16th century guesthouse in original state. The women's quarters have disappeared in time, but this unique hall still is there. In the guesthouse's dorm were 22 beds that had to be shared by two men! People in those times however slept half sitting up, as one believed that the laying position would send to much blood to the head and you would wake up crazy.
The chapel and "mannenzaal" belong to the "collection" of the Flehite-museum.
The townmuseum "Flehite" is settled in the historical building with a magnificent facade. The museum gives an image of the history of Amersfoort and it's environment. This done from the prehistoric times until now. There are mommoth-bones, 17th century paintings, a antique puppethouse and wagonwheels, as well as the maquette of
the town. There are temorare expositions about many many topics.
What "Flehite" actually means (even the Dutch often ask this question)? Well, the Eastern part of the province of Utrecht used to be called "Flethite". This name dates back to the times of Charlemagne (777). Through a writingmistake in the middle ages, the name was changed into "Flehite". Stupid, not? ... (-: