Most interesting wonders of Netherlands
- Historical center of Amsterdam – North Holland, Amsterdam. One of most interesting historical cities in the world from the urban planning point. The center of Amsterdam was developed in the end of the 16th – beginning of the 17th century. A network of canals was built in order to provide water access to every quarter. Canals were developed as concentric rings. Houses were built with facades along the channels, with gabled roofs. In Amsterdam are located numerous valuable monuments of architecture, art and history. The design of the city was a success – Amsterdam became the largest port in the world and by the end of the 17th century it was extremely rich city.
- Historical center of Delft – South Holland. A characteristic Dutch city with numerous historical houses arranged along the channels and bridged with historical bridges.
- Historical center of Leiden – South Holland, Leiden. Well preserved, extensive city, built mainly in the 16th – 17th century. Historical city was preserved thanks to economical decline in the 17th – early 20th century. Contains remnants of medieval fortifications, including Moorspoort and Zijlpoort gates. Numerous buildings in Renaissance and Baroque styles.
- Historical center of Utrecht – Utrecht. Largely intact medieval city center. The structure of canals and buildings has been well preserved. Especially valuable urban structure is wharf-basement structure along Oudegracht – an ancient, curved canal. This structure has resulted in unique, two-level street network.
- Historical center of Maastricht – Limburg. Maastricht is the oldest continuously inhabited city in Netherlands and many very old buildings have been preserved. The city center is picturesque, with channels and diverse historical buildings. Especially interesting is Jekerkwartier.
- Helpoort – Limburg, Maastricht. The oldest city gate in Netherlands, built in 1229. Part of medieval city walls preserved, with several kilometers long underground passages.
- Stelling van Amsterdam – North Holland. Extensive system of fortifications around Amsterdam, built between 1880 and 1920. System includes 45 forts and hydrologic system, which envisaged to flood wast areas in a case of enemy attack.
- Doorwerth Castle – Gelderland. Well preserved water castle, built in 1402 – 1560. Legends about unusual events.
- Burcht van Leiden – South Holland. Very old shell keep, built sometimes around 1100. Built at the confluence of two tributaries of Rhine. Built on the top of motte.
- Croy Castle – North Brabant. Beautiful Gothic castle from the 15th century.
- Doornenburg Castle – Gelderland. One of the largest and best preserved medieval castles in Netherlands. Forecastle with wooden bridge to the main castle has been preserved. Constructed since 1300.
- Duivenvoorde Castle – South Holland. Very well preserved medieval castle with a moat. First mentioned in 1226 and since then not changed owners.
- Fraeylemaborg – Groningen. The best preserved fortified villa – borgen – from the Middle Ages. Constructed in the 16th century.
- Heeswijk Castle – North Brabant. "Fairy tale" Gothic castle with a moat around it. Originally constructed sometimes around 1180, rebuilt afterwards.
- Hoensbroek Castle – Limburg. Large water castle. Oldest parts are from 1360. Castle contains at least 67 halls and rooms.
- Huis Bergh – Gelderland. One of the largest castles in Netherlands, built in the 13th century. Contains a collection of Italian paintings.
- Loevestein Castle – Gelderland. Well preserved medieval castle, built in 1357 – 1397. Around the castle are fortifications – bastions.
- Muiderslot – North Holland. Medieval castle, built in 1370 – 1386 in Renaissance style. Castle has moat, around the structure is set beautiful garden.
- Slot Zuylen – Utrecht. Well preserved water castle, built after 1510 and rebuilt in 1752.
- Twickel Castle – Overijssel. Beautiful Renaissance castle, built in the 15th – 18th century. Surrounded by exquisite garden and park.
- Drakesteijn – Utrecht. Small, octagonal castle with a moat around it. Built in 1640 in Classicism style.
- Het Loo Palace – Gelderland, Apeldoorn. Country seat of the royal family of the Netherlands. Built in 1685 – 1686. Good representative of Dutch Baroque architecture – restricted and homely. Around the palace is set exquisite Baroque garden.
- Sint Hubertus hunting lodge – Gelderland. Unusual country house in Expressionist style, designed by Hendrik Petrus Berlage in 1914 and built in 1920.
- Royal Palace of Amsterdam (Palais op de Dam) – North Holland, Amsterdam. Ornate example of Dutch Baroque, a city palace built in 1665. Designed by Jacob van Campen. Palace is built from sandstone and contains valuable paintings.
- Trompenburgh – North Holland. Interesting country house – water castle, built in 1684. Beautiful wall paintings.
- Basilica of Our Lady in Maastricht – Limburg, Maastricht. Impressive, unusual Romanesque basilica with blocks from Roman buildings. Constructed in the early 11th – 12th century. Beautiful, sophisticated sculptures.
- Basilica of Saint Servatius – Limburg, Maastricht. One of the best examples of Romanesque architecture in Netherlands. Built in the 11th – 12th century, although church is standing here since the 4th century AD. Contains grave of Saint Servatius (310 – 384) – Armenian saint, first bishop of Maastricht.
- Munsterkerk in Roermond – Limburg. The most impressive Late Romanesque structure in Netherlands, built in 1218 – 1260.
- Chapel of St. Nicholas (Sint-Nicolaaskapel, Valkhofkapel) – Gelderland, Nijmegen. Carolingian chapel, built shortly after 1030, the only Romanesque building in this part of Netherlands. One of the oldest buildings in Netherlands.
- Cathedral Church of St. John of ‘s-Hertogenbosch – North Brabant. One of most imposing churches in Netherlands, with 73 m tall tower. Exquisite monument of Late Gothic style, built in 1220 – 1525. Interesting detail from the latest restoration – angel with mobile phone.
- Dom Tower in Utrecht – Utrecht. The tallest church tower in Netherlands. This 112.5 m tall tower was built in 1321 – 1382 in Gothic style. It has singular architecture. Tower stands alone – the church was not built.
- Grote of Onze-Lieve-Vrouwekerk – South Holland, Dordrecht. Imposing church in Late Gothic style, built in 1285 – 1470ies. Beautiful choir in Renaissance style.
- Hooglandse Kerk – South Holland, Leiden. Large Gothic church, built in 1377 – 1415. Includes remnants of earlier Romanesque structure.
- Martinitoren and Martinikerk – Groningen. Martinitoren is an enormous Gothic church tower, built in 1469 – 1482. Height – 97 m. Martinikerk is large brick church in Gothic style.
- Nieuwe Kerk in Delft – South Holland. Beautiful Gothic church with 108.75 m tall tower, built in 1396 – 1496. Here are buried the members of Dutch royal family.
- Oude Kerk in Amsterdam – North Holland, Amsterdam. Oldest parish church in Amsterdam, consecrated in 1306. This Gothic church has the largest medieval wooden vault in Europe, from 1390. It provides excellent acoustics. The floor of the church consists solely of gravestones.
- Sint-Baafskerk – Zeeland, Aardenburg. This church was built after 1243 on the foundations of an earlier church. The best example of Scheldt Gothic style – a local Early Gothic style.
Churches in later styles
- Cenakelkerk (Heilig Landstichting church) – Gelderland. Unusual church in Eastern and Eastern Christian style, built in 1913 – 1915. Designed by Jan Stuyt and Piet Gerrits. Interior is adorned with interesting frescoes.
Parks and gardens
- Hortus Botanicus Leiden – South Holland, Leiden. One of the oldest botanical gardens in the world, set in 1593. Contains several orangeries and some very old plants. Large collection of Asian orchids.
- Keukenhof – South Holland. World’s largest flower garden where annually are planted some 7 million bulbs over an area of 32 hectares. In spring, during the bloom this is one of most popular tourist destinations in the Netherlands.
- Cruquius pumping station – North Holland. Elegant steam pumping station with the largest steam engine in the world. Diameter of the piston is 3.7 m.
- De Grafelijke Torenmolen – Gelderland. Most likely the oldest standing windmill in Netherlands, built before 1441.
- De Noord in Schiedam – South Holland. The tallest windmill in the world, 33.3 m tall. Built in 1803.
- D.F. Wouda Steam Pumping Station – Friesland. The largest steam powered pumping station in the world, built in 1920 and still operated. Pumping capacity – 4000 m³ per minute.
- Kinderdijk – Elshout windmill system – South Holland. Well preserved unique system of windmills, dykes and whole rural landscape. This system of 19 windmills from the middle of the 18th century is in operating condition and was built to drain the polder. System includes Water Board buildings from 1581. One windmill may date from the middle of the 15th century, although this has not been proven.
- Van Nelle Factory – South Holland, Rotterdam. Historical factory building, designed in modern style by Johannes Brinkman and Leendert van der Vlugt in 1925 – 1931. This factory produced coffee and tea.
- Bibliotheca Thysiana – South Holland, Leiden. This library was built in 1655 and houses the book collection collected by the lawyer Joannes Thysius. One of the best examples of Dutch Classical style.
- Eise Eisinga Planetarium – Friesland. The oldest operating planetarium in the world, constructed in 1774 – 1781. It was built by an enthusiast to prove that world is not moving to an end.
- Mauritshuis – South Holland, the Hague. Prominent museum of Dutch art, located in the historical residence of count John Maurice of Nassau, built in 1636 – 1641 in Classicism style. Contains numerous valuable works of Vermeer, Rembrandt, Holbein and other great painters.
- Naturalis – South Holland, Leiden. One of the largest natural history museums in the world, with some 10 million specimens. Collections are stored in a 60 m tall tower.
- Panorama Mesdag – South Holland, the Hague. A museum – single artwork. This circular room contains one enormous, 120 m long painting – panorama, which shows the village of Scheveningen in the late 19th century. The onlooker feels as if he is located in real landscape.
- Rijksmuseum – North Holland, Amsterdam. Dutch national museum, located in grand building in Neo-Renaissance style, built in 1885. This enormous structure is richly ornamented and contains huge collections of Dutch and Asian art.
- Teylers – North Holland, Haarlem. The only existing Musaeum from the Age of Enlightement, center of art and science from the 18th century. The oldest museum in Netherlands.
- Van Gogh Museum – North Holland, Amsterdam. A museum dedicated to the works of Vincent van Gogh and his contemporaries. This exquisite collection is housed in exquisite building designed by Gerrit Rietveld and built in 1973.
Government and office buildings
- Binnenhof – South Holland, the Hague. Dutch parliament building, a center of Dutch political life since 1446. Consists of a larger group of historical buildings. Impressive monument of Gothic architecture is Ridderzaal, built in the 13th century. Beautiful, large windows with stained glass.
- Gemeendelandshuis van Rijnland – South Holland, Leiden. The oldest office of water boards, built in the late 16th century. Ornamented interior, stained glass.
- Korenbeurs – Groningen. Wonderful building of stock exchange in Neo-Classicism style in 1862 – 1865. One of greatest examples of Neo-Classicism architecture.
- Magna Plaza (Hoofdpostkantoor) – North Holland, Amsterdam. Beautiful public building in Neo-Renaissance style, built in 1895 – 1899.
- Oost-Indish Huis – North Holland, Amsterdam. Example of Dutch Renaissance architecture, built in 1606 and designed (possibly) by Hendrik de Kayser. Served as headquarters of Dutch East India Company.
- Scheepvaarthuis – North Holland, Amsterdam. Landmark building of Dutch Expressionists, designed by Johan van der Mey and built in 1913 – 1928.
- Witte Huis – South Holland, Rotterdam. The first skyscraper in Europe, built in 1898 in Art Nouveau style. 43 m tall, with 10 floors.
Newer residential buildings
- Het Schip – North Holland, Amsterdam. Unusual house in Expressionist style. This brick building was designed by Michel de Klerk and built in 1920.
- Nirwana-flat – South Holland, the Hague. The first modern multi apartment house in Netherlands, built in 1926 – 1929. Designed by Jan Duiker and Jan Gerko Wiebenga. Represents a new philosophy in architecture of residential buildings, with phone system, waste collection system, central heating, large windows. The design has proven to be timeless and remains very modern even after 100 years.
- Rietveld Schröderhuis – Utrecht. Early and clean example of Modern movement in architecture (De Stijl movement). This small family house was built in 1924, designed by Gerrit Thomas Rietveld.
- Villa Henny – Utrecht. One of the earliest Modernist buildings in Europe, built in 1915 – 1916.
Other monuments of architecture
- Sanatorium Zonnestraal – North Holland. A sanatorium, originally built for diamond polishers who caught tuberculosis. This beautiful complex is built in Modernist style in 1928, encompassing numerous innovations in architecture and construction. Designed by Jan Duiker in cooperation with Bernard Bijvoet and Jan Gerko Wiebenga.
Described wonders of Netherlands
For many centuries one of the most developed countries in the world is Netherlands. Man learned here to shape the natural landscape according to his needs – but in order to succeed he needed to change himself. Thus in the Netherlands developed a special society – able to unite for common goals, rationalistic and always innovative.
Virtually all the landscape in Netherlands is man made, here are not located very special natural landmarks – and also archaeological heritage to large extent is erased with the later human activities, except for a set of dolmens in Drenthe and the interesting Denghoog dolmen in Sylt.
Most interesting landmarks of Netherlands though belong to realm of architecture and technologies. Dutch did not spend too much efforts to create sumptuous and egocentric structures – their specialty throughout the centuries is rationalistic, elegant and homely architecture. Whenever the humanity needs inspiration for democratic and humane design – Dutch can provide inspiration for it.
The highlights of the Netherlands are:
- Large scale hydrotechnical systems, powered with wind or steam engines. These systems were created by dire need – protection from terrible floods. Dutch succeeded in an excellent way, gradually "pumping the sea away" and increasing their land area. Excellent example of such sophisticated systems is Kinderdijk – Elshout windmill system, for centuries keeping the sea away from a fertile land.
- Urban planning tradition. In this low lying country people learned very well the efficiency of water transport. Channels led directly to the front door of factories, shops and apartments. Movement of goods and people was fast and cheap. This defined the planning of cities. The most extreme example to this is Amsterdam – one of most peculiar urban planning monuments in the world.
- Modern architecture. The modernist architecture looked like a big step elsewhere in the world, but not in Netherlands, where the architecture for centuries was gradually evolving towards it. Quite a few 100 years old Dutch buildings still look futuristic!
One Dutch landmark does not fit in above categories but is extraordinary – Keukenhof flower gardens, the largest flower garden in the world!
Featured: Chapel of St. Nicholas in Nijmegen
The history of the Chapel of St. Nicholas in Valkhof started at least one millenium ago. This is one of the oldest buildings in Netherlands.
Packed with insider tips to make your trip a success, you’ll find a guide to the Netherlands’s stunning architecture and its scenic drives that let you experience the best hotels, bars, and shops that the city and coast have to offer. Try local delicacies at fantastic restaurants, bars, and clubs, and enjoy the great views in spots that will take your breath away.
Bike cobblestone streets, cruise on charming canals, and stop and smell the tulips: with Rick Steves on your side, the Netherlands can be yours!