Amersfoort is a hidden gem! The medieval old town abounds with history and culture. So, here is a glimpse of what the city has to offer!
Amersfoort is a flourishing city with beautiful suburbs and a well-preserved medieval old town. And, it all began as a prosperous merchant town which was granted a city charter in 1259. Remarkably, it still has its city walls, canals and ancient dwellings. In its medieval heyday it was famous not just as a pilgrim destination, but also for its beer brewing!
Pilgrimage to Amersfoort
Pilgrims flocked to Amersfoort in the hopes that the Virgin Mary would reward them with a miracle. In medieval times the Church of Our Lady was truly magnificent! Pilgrims came hoping that a small statue of Mary would give them an ‘Amersfoort Miracle’. But, in 1579, the sumptuous church was damaged during the Reformation. And in 1787, a gunpowder explosion caused further damage.
Today, all that survives are the Tower of Our Lady and some paving stones outlining the original Church. Today, it is well worth walking up the 198 m Tower for the views over the Netherlands. Especially as the Tower, nicknamed Long John, or Lange Jan is right in the centre of the Netherlands. If you are lucky you will hear the 100-bell carillon which features the17th century Hemony carillon.
Adjoining the Tower of Our Lady is the Hotel Lange Jan. And, it is very conveniently located for enjoying the sites, shopping and the night life of Amersfoort.
Beer Brewing in Amersfoort
The natural springs around Amersfoort make it well suited for beer brewing. So, don’t miss the historic, De Drie Ringen, or Three Rings brewery! Here, you can tour the brewing learning some of its secrets. As well as some very tasty sampling!
The Stadscafé In den Grooten Slock is the oldest bar in Amersfoort. And, it has great views of the town square. So, make sure you stop for lunch and sample the local beer and food.
The town square is lined with medieval houses all joined together. And, they seem to tumble and topple over each. Like line dancers they dance and sway to their own tune.
I really wanted to visit Saint George Church, Sint Joris Kerk, because it has amazing historical features. The most treasured is the rare rood screen, or doxaal, which was surprisingly spared by the Reformation. Another rare feature is the three Romanesque naves dating from 12th century. Also, there is a 14th Gothic font.
However, its was difficult to find access to the Church. It seems that the only doorway was behind this red cow. And, it was locked. So, I guess this gives me an excuse to return to Amersfoort again!.
Amersfoort has an amazing Museum housed in buildings dating from 1540. The Flehite Museum has heaps of information about the history of Amersfoort, its surrounding areas and its prehistory.
The Old Town is still surrounded by its city wall, the Muurhuizen, built in the late 12th century. Later, in 1380, ‘walled houses’, were built from its rubble forming a second line of protection inside the city walls. So do take a walk around the Muurhuizen to see these remarkable historic houses! In addition, many house have plaques displaying historic events and their significance. But the best feature is the picturesque canals that surround the ‘walled houses’.
My favourite ‘walled house’ is the cheese shop! And, it is filled with all types of Dutch cheese.
The Koppelpoort, is a medieval gate that is part of the second wall. In the past, it effectively controlled the passage of vessels using the canal system. And, a water treadmill was used to open it. No doubt, a dangerous task!
The famous abstract artist, Mondrian, was born in Amerfoort in 1872. And, the house where he lived until he was 8 years old is now a Museum. There are lots of interesting displays and information documenting his career as an artist, especially his progress to abstraction.
The canals in Amersfoort lazily meander throughout the old town, creating picturesque settings in every direction. Clearly, boating on the canals is heaps of fun! As well, as a convenient means of public transport.
Or Dining in the evening!
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