This part of the Veluwe has an unique scenery with the biggest shifting-sand area of Europe. Surrounded by forests and just close to the very small village of Kootwijk, it is one of the most remote parts of the Netherlands. Therefore it is such a pity that tourist facilities, like camping sites and holiday parks are coming closer and closer to this unique spot.
The only way to explore “Kootwijkerzand” is to walk. Personally we prefer to stroll around without using paths. It is such an amazing landscape, sometimes the sand is almost white, other parts are covered by moss or small pines. And always the sand is drifting in the wind and the landscape is constantly changing. Sometimes it seems to be a little Sahara, specially when temperatures in the sun reach 50 degrees Celsius !!
If you don’t like to walk, just find a nice spot on one of the hills (they are called a ‘fort’) and just sit down and look around, see the living skies and enjoy this beautiful scenery.
Kootwijk is within easy reach of the highway between Amersfoort and Apeldoorn. In the village turn left on the (only) junction; follow “Kerkendelweg” and turn right into “Houtzagersweg”. At the end of the sealed road is a car park. Go through a small gate and walk for about 500 metres straight on. Suddenly you will reach this huge sandbox. Stroll around, but just take care you don’t get lost and can not find your way out !!
(on the road between Kootwijk and Harskamp is a car park with a short sign posted track, but we don’t like that part too much, because it is ‘overcrowded’).
360 degrees presentations of some of the best Dutch attractions
Dutch Tourist office ideas
Daytrips Dutch only
On-line events in the Netherlands
The Dutch are known freeriders. Here are some "free"and discount websites
Pick up for free
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NIBUD, The Dutch National Instutute for Budgets
Great books about fabulous locations in the Netherlands.
And the best one is the Lover's boat cruise on the canal right in front of Centraal train station. One hour for 15€ is a great deal indeed. A great way to soak on the history and architecture of the city. There are other cruise company in the canals of course,
you will have all the information on them above in addition to Lovers webpge
very nice look coming out of centraal train station look left and you see this building, upon getting nearer is rather bleak and dirty on the facade but its lovely architecture and great history.
In Dutch is Sint Nicolaaskerk
The baroque dome is 58 meters high and it was built in 1887. A nice interlude while walking around the train station Centraal
Heusden, along the river Maas is dates back to the 13th century when it started with the construction of the fortification to replace the castle that was destroyed by the Duke of Brabant in 1202. This fortification was quickly expanded with water works and a donjon (castle). Heusden received city rights in 1318.
During the first years of the Eighty Years War (1568-1648), Heusden was occupied by the Spanish. In 1577, however the people of Heusden chose to ally with William, Prince of Orange. William decided to consolidate the town's strategic position near the river Maas and ordered fortification works to be constructed. This started in 1579 with the digging of moats and the construction of bastions, walls, and ravelins and was completed in 1597.
By early 19th century the fortifications were fallen into disrepair and dismantled. However in 1968 extensive restoration works started and fortifications were carefully rebuilt.
Nowadays Heusden draws over 350 thousand tourists every year who visit the historic town centre and walk the walls that once made it a formidable stronghold.
We started our city walk of Heusden after buying a leaflet (Dutch, German and English) from the Tourist Office, which houses in the New Town Hall. The old one was completely destroyed in November 1944 during a massacre (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Heusden).
During our walk - we opted for the city walk – along the cobble stoned streets we did get a good impression of the city and its fortifications, passing a lot of quaint historical houses - among them the oldest building of the city dating from the city from 1521, farm- and warehouses, a former nunnery, a couple of churches with the impressive ‘Catharijne Church’. Unfortunately it was closed (as often with Dutch churches), so we couldn’t take a look inside.
It was great to walk on the walls of the fortifications, seeing antique cannons and a very old lock to the city moat. The former castle is almost completely gone (in 1680 a terrible thunderstorm hit the city and lightning struck the donjon, which contained 60.000 pounds of gunpowder).
The ‘Vismarkt’ is the heart of the city and is lined by beautiful houses, nowadays cafes and restaurants with terraces. One side of the square is dominated by two completely different buildings: the ‘Visbank’ and the ‘Commiezenhuis’. Behind these buildings lies the small harbour with its draw bridge and one of the wind mills in Heusden.
The ‘Gouveneurshuis’, the house of the former governor of the city and nowadays a museum, was closed and we just could get a glimpse of the landscaped garden through a hole in the door (very limited opening hours: http://www.gouverneurshuis.nl).
Our walk took about 1½ hours and we enjoyed it very much, seeing so many beautiful sites and reading a lot of interesting information. Afterwards we did some shopping - most of the shops and numerous art galleries are open all Sundays - and had a cappuccino with ‘grandmother’s apple pie’ at ‘Bakkertje Deeg’, a very nostalgic bakery.
Visiting on Easter Monday there were quite a lot of tourists around, but it wasn’t crowded; I would call it lively and lovely !!
First we intended to do just the Nassau walk, but it turned out this walk offers a limited number of Nassau-sights. And about the half of these sites were not open for public at the moment we visited Leeuwarden. So we merged this walk with another one, called ‘Route Topmonumenten’. We could download both walks and made our own itinerary. It is also possible to download MP3 files (only Dutch) and in front of most of the sites are information panels in English and Dutch.
We were lucky to stay in Hotel Paleis Stadhouderlijk Hof, which is one of the major sights in Leeuwarden. I highly recommend going inside and ask if you are allowed to take a look in the beautiful Nassauzaal.
Just opposite the (former) palace - at the same square - is the town hall. In 1715 three year old Willem Karel Hendrik Friso, prince of Oranje-Nassau, laid the first brick for the building. I really don’t know if one can visit the inside, but if interested you could give it a try.
Next stop - not on our map, but well signposted - was ‘Museum De Grutterswinkel’. This is quite an old building and since 1901 it was used as home and grocery. Since these days hardly anything has changed. We had our lunch in the coffee room.
The landmark of Leeuwarden is the crooked tower ‘Oldenhove’, which is located on an ugly empty square; the tower can be climbed. Not far away we reached the Princessehof (Princesses court), home for many years of princess Maria Louise van Hessen Kassel. Nowadays it houses a ‘Keramiekmuseum’.
Through the not very impressive ‘Prinsentuin’, a park laid out for the viceroy's family, we reached the buildings of the Nieuw Sint Anthony Gasthuis, surrounded by beautiful gardens.
Along the ‘Fries Natuurhistorisch Museum’ - a former orphanage – and through a narrow street we reached the square with the Grote- of Jacobijnerkerk, dating back to the 13th century. The church has very limited opening hours so we couldn’t see the burial ground for the Nassau family. Outside we had to do it with the ‘Oranjepoortje', the private entrance for the royal family.
Nearby ‘Waalsekerk’ is almost never open for visitors, so you could head to the ‘Bonifatiuskerk', built between 1882 and 1884 by famous Dutch architect P.J.H. Cuypers. The doors of this church also kept closed for us.
Walking along the remarkable art-nouveau building of the ‘Centraal Apotheek’ (Voorstreek 58), we came onto the ‘Turf- and Tweebaksmarkt’. These old market places do offer some interesting buildings, among them: the ‘Fries Museum’, with a richly decorated façade and the ‘Provinsjehûs’ (House of the Province).
We ended our walk along the monuments in the city centre, where the ‘Waag’ is situated, a weigh-house from the 15th century, were lots of butter cheese and meat were weighed. Nowadays it is a café/restaurant for a well deserved cup of coffee.
Interesting websites for this walk
De Grutterswinkel: www.museum-de-grutterswinkel.nl
Grote Kerk: www.grotekerkleeuwarden.nl > Open kerk
Fries Museum: www.friesmuseum.nl/museum/visit?language=en
Map Nassauroute: www.aedlevwerd.nl/projecten/nassauroute/projecten/nassauroute/plattegrond-nassauroute.pdf
Map Top Monumenten: www.aedlevwerd.nl/projecten/topmonumenten/projecten/topmonumenten/plattegrond-topmonumentenroute.pdf
Bolsward is one of the eleven Frisian cities. It became its city rights already in the year of 1455. Originally Bolsward was built on two ‘terpen’ (man made artificial hills) and even in 900 the city still was surrounded by water. It had an open connection to the sea by way of a gully and the Frisian Middelzee. Bolsward was since 1412 – according to written sources – member of the Germanic Hanseatic cities.
We started our exploration of the city - of course on foot – just behind our hotel Hid Hero Hiem, where we saw the only remains of the old defensive walls and a part of the city moat. A little bit to the north stand the Martini Church on one of the former ‘terpen’. Construction of this impressive church began in 1442. Church is open for visitors and we took a look inside; quite impressive with its pillars, wooden pulpit and choir stalls.
Walking back to the city center along a canal (Grote Dijlakker) we reached the St. Francis Church. We didn’t expect to find a roman catholic church in this part of the country, but Bolsward has one. You really should look inside the church. It was built in around 1930 and is completely made of colourful (Frisian) brick, which gives the interior an amazing atmosphere.
(Next to the church is the Titus Brandsma Museum, which we didn’t visit).
We walked along ‘Nieuwmarkt’ and ‘Skilwijk’, where we passed a kind of gate to the Sint Anthony Gasthuis. Former alms houses are built around a lovely garden.
Back to the city center (through ‘Dijkstraat’ and ‘Marktstraat’). On a fork of two canals stands the great city hall of Bolsward. It has a marvelous stair-step gable and an impressive flight of steps outside. We visited a couple of rooms inside the building, which is really worth the effort.
We continued along the ‘Jongemastraat’ and couldn’t miss the Broerekerk. This church has a medieval façade (it is the oldest building in the city). In 1980 a fire ruined the church, but in 2005 the church was restored and became an unique glass roof. Nowadays it is used for special events like music performances.
We went back to the ‘Appelmarkt’ for a deserved cup of coffee on one of the sidewalk cafes.
(We were running out of time and couldn’t visit other sites like the Sonnema distillery, the Us Heit Beer Brewery and It Gysbert Japicxhûs. The last one is located at the ‘Wipstraat’ - just behind the city hall - and has a Frisian shop and a kind of Tourist Information Center.)
Bolward is nowadays part of the municipality of Sudwest-Fryslân.
Friesland is as flat as a pancake and ideal for a bicycle trip. We opted for a ride towards the Ijsselmeer (former Zuiderzee) and back. We headed for Exmorra, where we made our first stop with a visit to a historical grocery shop dating back to the end of the 19th century; the same building houses an old school class and a shoe repair shop. Living rooms of the former owner do have period furniture.
Allingawier is just a couple of kilometres further and offers a nice ‘open air museum’, with farmhouses, an old village church, a black smith, an eel smokery and a bakery where they make so called ‘drabbelkoeken’ (a local sweet). The village also has a café and a restaurant.
Just outside the village lies the Allingastate, a more or less newly built Frisian manor (= state), which is a mix of several styles. To be honest: we were not impressed at all.
(Grocery shop, Allingawier museum village and Allingastate belong to the so called Aldfaers Erf Route – Forefathers Inheritance Route.)
Makkum is located on the banks of the IJsselmeer and is an old historical fishing village. It has some nice historic (merchant) houses, a beautiful weigh house and the lock to the ‘sea’. The pottery of Royal Tichelaar is also located in Makkum. Although it is not possible to visit the factory itself, we browsed the shop and had a nice lunch in their restaurant ‘Yt en Geniet (see for opening hours http://www.tichelaar.nl/en/shop_makkum/the_bakersshop.php).
We followed the dike to the south and passed little Frisian villages like Piaam and Gaast, before reaching Ferwoude. The village has and historical carpenter factory, once also belonging to the Aldfaers Erf Route, but during our visit closed for visitors. After a look at the village church (18the century) with is remarkable yellow colour, we went on towards Workum trough a rural road.
Workum is one of the eleven Frisian cities and nowadays well known for the ‘Jopie Huisman Museum’. This museum exposes paintings of Jopie Huisman, This local scrap collector turned out to be a marvelous painter and we really loved our visit to ‘his’ museum.
After a coffee on a terrace on the market square of Workum - with a view of the impressive tower of the Gertrudis Church - we had to cycle back to Bolsward along a canal and with a little bit of head wind. After a wonderful bike trip of about 35 km’s we came back at the shop were we rented our bikes.
(Koopmans Tweewielers, Grote Dijlakker 58, Bolsward - they don’t have a website)
Exmorra and Alingawier, opening hours and admission fees: http://www.aldfaerserf.nl/
Alingastate, free admission, opening hours: http://www.allingastate.nl
Jopie Huisman Museum, opening hours and admission fees: http://www.jopiehuismanmuseum.nl/
The Dutch province of Friesland is commonly well known for its flatness, green meadows with cows, lakes and sailing boats. But some parts of the province are quite different; one of them is ‘Gaasterland’ in the south western part.
Gaasterland (gaast = sandy hill) has some hills, although don’t expect too much (the highest one is just 12,7 metres above the sea level). They are remains of the latest ice age, when glaciers covered also the Netherlands.
It is a very pleasant and beautiful scenery, with its gently sloped landscape, meadows, loam cliffs along the IJsselmeer and several forest; together with some really nice and quiet villages a very interesting part of Friesland.
We made a walk of a couple of hours through this scenery and just saw al these elements, making a loop walk from the small village of Oudemirdum. First ‘climbing’ a hill and afterwards descending to the dike along the IJsselmeer and the so called Mirnser Klif (with an height of 2,5 metres). Through the ‘Rijster Bosch’, a 300 year old planted forest with varied trees, we reached the small (holiday) village of Rijs and walked back through another forest with these typical hills to Oudemirdum.
Oudemirdum is a good starting point for exploring Gaasterland. It is a very nice village with a couple of shops, cafés and restaurants along the Brink (square) and most important for tourists an information centre. They offer maps with signposted walks or just buy a map and make your own (as we did) tour.
Opening hours: see website.
The Province of Zeeland is the westernmost province of the Netherlands and consists of a number of islands with a strip of land bordering Belgium. Large parts of the province are below sea level and have been reclaimed from the sea by its inhabitants, what was once a muddy landscape that disappeared at low tide, became small man-made hills which were connected by creating dikes, this led to a chain of dry land that gave the province its current shape.
See My Travel Page for more information.
A horticultural show taking place only every ten years, where many countries come together and do exhibitions of fruit, trees, flowers and other things that are grown in their respective countries or produced A very interesting show, but I was dissapointed as many countries did not go to a lot of trouble with their exhibitions.
Limburg is a land-locked province located in the south-eastern part of the Netherlands and borders Belgium and Germany; it was also the latest addition to the Netherlands joining in 1866. Limburg also has its own language, called Limburgish and since 1997 has been an official regional language.
See My Travel Page for more information.
Zaltbommel is quite an old city: dating back to 850 AD, at which time it was a small settlement, called “Bomela”. In 1231 the settlement was given municipal rights by Count Otto II van Gelre. The ramparts and fortifications of the town date back to those days.
Zaltbommel is located in the province of Gelderland and although I live in the same province it didn’t feel like ‘my’ province when visiting. It is quite different from the other parts and does look more like Brabant.
As very often we made a town walk through the old part – surrounded by the former ramparts and the river Waal – of the city. We started our walk at the city hall, where you also will find the tourist information center (TRIP). We bought a small leaflet ‘Wandelroute’, which is also available in English and German.
During our walk of about 1 1/2hours we did see a lot of interesting buildings and other things:
- the city hall from the 18 th century
- - a lot of old houses, among them the oldest of Zaltbommel from the year of 1400.
- lots of nice and interesting details on houses and doors
- several so called ‘gutter ghosts’ (gootspoken)
- the city castle (open from 13.00 – 17.00 hours; closed on Monday)
- St. Maartens Church with its 70 meters high tower (for visiting hours better ask the tourist office)
- the quaint church square with the Gouverneurshuis (1550)
- Waterpoort, the only remaining g city gate of Zaltbommel
- the former fish market
- the promenade along the river Waal
- the old ramparts and moat
- and much more ….
When walking around you will pass a lot of local owned shops and cafes and restaurants for a bite or a drink.
There are somany things in this city, it is a museum on his own. The market place is full of restaurants outside and during the winter inside. there are many churches worthy for a visite.
Look around every corner you see a surprice.
If you go to Holland you go to Amsterdam, don´t be confuzed Amsterdam is the capital of Holland (not the other way around). Amsterdam is famous for the sex, drugs and rock ´n Roll, but don´t forget is is a beautiful city as well, with all the canels and old buildings!
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