22 Mar 2023
Soooo you’re planning on coming to Drachenwald’s 30 year celebration in Polderslot. What a very good idea.
In the coming months I’ll be posting information of interesting historical sites to visit along your way to the site or if you’re planning to extend your stay in the Netherlands and look around.
When people come to the Netherlands their first stop generally is Amsterdam. That’s not surprising, because it’s a great city to visit. But I would like to focus on what’s outside of Amsterdam in the rest of the country, because a lot of visitors never get to see that.
If you’re planning to extend your stay and you’re based in or near Amsterdam here are a few great places to visit within easy reach. You can get there by train in less then an hour.
Wonderful charming historical town to the west of Amsterdam (travel time by train 15 minutes.) It’s very nice for a stroll around the historic towncentre. It has a beatiful church (Grote Kerk) with huge organ and a couple of great museums.
First there is the Teyler museum, the Netherlands’ first purpose build museum with a collection of historic scientific instruments, fossils, minerals and drawings.
And the Frans Hals museum. He was a Dutch painter (1580-1666). The museum is housed in some wonderfull period buildings.
This is a very touristy place (15 minutes by bus), but if you like historic windmills, this is the place to be. Also the place to shop for cloggs and pigments . Just don’t buy any cheese here. It’s overpriced and you can find the same in any Dutch supermarket.
Historical town (35 minutes by train to the north) especially known for its historical cheesemarket every Friday morning. But great for a stroll along its picturesque streets and canals.
Great place. Very pretty. (35 minutes by train to the south) It has a beautiful botanical garden, a couple of windmills in the city center, some canals, a nice Gothic church (Pieterskerk), the ruins of a Motte and Bailey castle (De Burcht) hidden away in a little street (great views from atop the walls) and a lot of intresting museums.
One of them is the National Archeological Museum (Rijksmuseum van Oudheden) wich houses the most important finds from the Netherlands, the wonderful Dorestad Fibula among many others. It also has great collections from Egypt, Greece, Roman empire and more.
Another is Rijksmuseum Boerhaave, a museum dedicated to Dutch scientific history.
Den Haag/The Hague (50 minutes by train from Amsterdam) is where the Dutch gouvernment is seated. The government buildings are called ‘Het Binnenhof’ and are medieval in origin. The oldert part, still in use for ceremonies, is ‘De Ridderzaal’, a greal hall from the 13th century. Normally you can walk around the buildings and visit de Ridderzaal, but at the moment there’s reconstruction going on, so you will have to go and see.
Next to Het Binnenhof is a great museum called Het Mauritshuis. Together with het Rijksmuseum in Amsterdam, this museum houses the greatest artcollection in The Netherlands.
There are many other museums in the city including:
- de Gevangenenpoort (the prisonersgate), a place not for the fainthearted, dedicated to imprisonment and torture.
- Escher in the Palace, a museum dedicated to the Dutch graphical genius M.C.Esher. Not remotely period, but great fun!
Den Haag is also on the coast. Just take the tram to Scheveningen Strand (beach) and stick your toes in the sand!
Delft is almost too cute for its own good. (60 minutes by train) It has canals like Amsterdam, but they’re much smaller. It has a nice market square with a renaissance looking city hall (wich is much older). The ‘Nieuwe kerk’ (New church) stands on the other side of the square and is from the 14th - 16th century. A few streets away is the old church (Oude kerk) from the 12th century.
If you want to go to the beach, go to Zandvoort (30 minutes). The train stops about 500 meters from the sea. It can still get busy, but it is not as crazy as Scheveningen.
For a real medieval experience you can visit het Muiderslot, a 13th century castle just outside Amsterdam. Details on how to get there are on their website
About 25 minutes west by train of Amsterdam (Station Naarden Bussum) is the little fortress city Naarden. The town was founded in 1350 and has beautifully preserved fortifications from the 17th century. It’s very charming and packed with monuments.
Yes, this is the home of the world famous Gouda cheese and also a very charming old city. (50 minutes by train, change in Utrecht). There is a cheese market on thursday morning (also local produce and crafts). There are canals, a cheese museum, a very cute old Town hall and a very long church (123 meters) famous for its beautiful old stained glass windows.
Don’t let the modern shopping centre next to the station (30 minutes from Amsterdam) deter you. You’ll have to pass through it to get to the old city center, but once there you’ll see it’s a beautiful old city. Again there are canals, but these are a bit different; they have wharves. You can climb the country’s tallest churchtower (Domtoren) or take a look under the square it is located on (Domunder) to see the archeological remains from Roman time onwards.
There is a Miffy museum (Nijntjemuseum), a great museum about Medieval religious art (Museum Catharijneconvent) and one about mechanical musical instruments (Museum Speelklok).
Saturday is market day: there is a general market of course, but also one selling flowers (Bloemenmarkt St. Janskerkhof) and one selling textile (Lapjesmarkt, Breestraat).