On Sunday, Riccardo and I headed to Groningen. Although it was a very short trip, I was very excited to go to the northern most tip of the Netherlands. It took us almost three hours to get there, and we enjoyed a typical Dutch country scenery of bomen, boerderijen, koeien mixed with regen and wolken. Before long, we were driving into the Groningen region and into this remarkable city.
The first traces of Groningen date back to the 3rd century AD, although documents trace the city back to only 1040. Its peak importance in trade was in the 13th century, and its most invloedrijke periode was during the 15th century. It is during this time that Groningen was in charge of the administration of the neighboring province of Friesland.
Groningen has several important bezienswaardigheden or landmarks. The most notable one is the Martinitoren or the St. Martin’s Tower, which was the highest building in Europe during the 15th century, when it was built. It is in the Grote Markt, which is the main square in Groningen. The Martinitoren is the bell tower of the Martinikerk. Both are named after Saint Martin of Tours who was the patron saint of the Bishop of Utrecht. The toren is closed on Mondays so I was not able to go up, but the kerk was open. This church has very well preserved 16th century paintings depicting the life of Jesus Christ. The architecture of the church is simple, and yet full of details.
Another important landmark is the Groninger Museum, which is, located right across the Centraal Station. This museum, in my opinion, is why Groningen is such an impressive city when it comes to architectuur. The current building of the museum was designed by the Italian architect Alessandro Mendini and opened to the public in 1994. Before that, the museum was in the Praediniussingel. In the museum, you can appreciate local, national and international works of art, most of which are modern art.
Because most musea were closed Monday morning, I took a walk around the city and by its canal, and was impressed with everything I saw. The houses in Groningen follow the typical Dutch design and most were in excellent conditions (at least from what I could see). The canal has many boathouses, as well, and there are plenty of cute bridges to cross from one side to the other.
As I was walking around Groningen, I tried to pinpoint what it was that caught my attention and made me like this city so much. I feel the same when I go to Maastricht. There is something about these two cities that appeals to me. They have this city wonder with a small town feel. Perhaps the fact that both cities have important universities is what attracts me. They have a certain gezelligheid that makes me feel at home.
de invloedrijke periode- the influential period
de bezienswaardigheid- the landmark
de bezienswaardigheden- the landmarks
de toren- the tower
de kerk- the church
het museum- the museum
de museums/musea- the museums
gezelligheid- friendliness, jolliness, coziness, comfort
de plattegrond- the map
wandeling- walk, stroll
het restaurant- the restaurant
het hotel- the hotel
de kamer- the room
de winkel- the store
de VVV- the tourism office