Wonders of the Netherlands
For many centuries the Netherlands belong to the world’s most developed countries. 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 the Netherlands is man-made. The natural 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.
The most interesting wonders of the Netherlands though belong to the realm of architecture and technologies. Dutch did not spend too much effort to create sumptuous and egocentric structures – their specialty throughout the centuries is rationalistic, elegant, and homely architecture. Whenever humanity needs inspiration for the democratic and humane design – Dutch can provide inspiration for it.
The most amazing wonders 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. An excellent example of such sophisticated systems is Kinderdijk – Elshout windmill system, for centuries keeping the sea away from 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. The movement of goods and people was fast and cheap. This defined the planning of cities. The most extreme example of this is Amsterdam – one of the 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 the 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 the above categories but is extraordinary – Keukenhof flower gardens, the largest flower garden in the world!
Map with the described wonders
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Top 25 wonders of the Netherlands
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.
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.
Royal Palace of Amsterdam (Palais op de Dam)
Ornate example of Dutch Baroque, a city palace built in 1665. Designed by Jacob van Campen. Palace has been built from sandstone and contains valuable paintings.
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.
The historical center of Amsterdam
One of the most interesting historical cities in the world from an urban planning point. The center of Amsterdam was developed at 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 an extremely rich city.
Van Gogh Museum
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.
Medieval castle, built in 1370 – 1386 in Renaissance style. Castle has moat, around the structure is set beautiful garden.
Gorgeous historical neighborhood – a kind of open-air museum in Zaandam. Here are located numerous historical windmills and houses.
The first skyscraper in Europe, built in 1898 in Art Nouveau style. 43 m tall, with 10 floors.
Hortus Botanicus 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.
The only existing Musaeum from the Age of Enlightement, center of art and science from the 18th century. The oldest museum in Netherlands.
Dom Tower in 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.
Basilica of Saint Servatius
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 the grave of Saint Servatius (310 – 384) – Armenian saint, first bishop of Maastricht.
Cathedral Church of St. John of ‘s-Hertogenbosch
One of the 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.
A well preserved water castle, built after 1510 and rebuilt in 1752.
One of the largest natural history museums in the world, with some 10 million specimens. Collections are stored in a 60 m tall tower.
Eise Eisinga Planetarium
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.
Het Loo Palace
Country seat of the royal family of the Netherlands. Built in 1685 – 1686. Good representative of the Dutch Baroque architecture – restricted and homely. Around the palace is set exquisite Baroque garden.
Well preserved water castle, built in 1402 – 1560. Legends about unusual events.
Very well preserved medieval castle with a moat. First mentioned in 1226 and since then not changed owners.
Historical center of 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.
The best preserved fortified villa – borgen – from the Middle Ages. Constructed in the 16th century.
Large Gothic church, built in 1377 – 1415. Includes remnants of earlier Romanesque structure.
One of the largest castles in Netherlands, built in the 13th century. Contains a collection of Italian paintings.
Large water castle. Oldest parts are from 1360. Castle contains at least 67 halls and rooms.
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!