Dutch Language Blog

The G in Groningen is for Gezelligheid Posted by on Aug 21, 2014 in Uncategorized

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.

Martinikerk, Groningen (personal photo)

Martinikerk, Groningen
(personal photo)

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.

Martinitoren and VVV office in Groningen (personal photo)

Martinitoren and VVV office in Groningen (personal photo)

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.

Useful Vocabulary:

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

architectuur- architecture

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

Tags: , , , , , ,
Keep learning Dutch with us!

Build vocabulary, practice pronunciation, and more with Transparent Language Online. Available anytime, anywhere, on any device.

Try it Free Find it at your Library
Share this:
Pin it

About the Author: Karoly Molina

Since I was a little girl, I was fascinated with languages and writing. I speak English, Spanish, Italian, Dutch and a little bit of French. I am a writer, reader, language teacher, traveler, and a food lover! I now live in The Netherlands with my husband Riccardo, our cat Mona, and our dog Lisa, and the experience has been phenomenal. The Dutch culture is an exciting sometimes topsy-turvy world that I am happily exploring!


  1. Bill:

    I went to Groningen in 2001. My wife/then girlfriend Judith was taking classes at the University there. We went up the Martinitoren, and the view is great. I come from a town in America of about 10,000 people, and we are so spread out it looks as big as Groningen. While going back down the tower, I was tired and slow, and Judith said there was a special treat at the bottom for me. It was poffertjes. Can’t forget that day.

    • Karoly G Molina:

      @Bill Bill, Oh my! There were no poffertjes when I went and I love them!

  2. David Van Dyken:

    I visited the city of Groningen with my father in 1974. I climbed to the top of the Martinitorn. I wish I knew more a out the kerk and de torn back then. I am proud to be a gronigener!

    • Karoly G Molina:

      @David Van Dyken David, I would be proud to be from Groningen!