Groningen, Netherlands Tourist Attractions
Groningen, capital of the province of that name, lies at the junction of the Drenthse Aa (here called the Hoornse Diep) with the Winschoter Diep.
Its harbor is accessible for small coastal shipping by way of the Reitdiep, which flows into the North Sea 20km/12.5mi northwest, or the Damsterdiep and the Eems Canal. To the south of the town is Eelde Airport.Groningen, the seat of a University founded in 1614 and other research institutes and the see of a Roman Catholic bishop, is the most important town in the northern Netherlands. As the main center for Groningen province and parts of the neighboring provinces of Drenthe and Friesland, it has one of the largest livestock, fruit, vegetable and flower markets in the country. Its corn exchange was for many years the only one in the Netherlands, and is now one of the largest in Europe. Seagoing vessels of up to 2000 tons can reach Groningen from its outer port, Delfzijl, on the Eems Canal. When Groningen still had an open link with the sea the effect of the tides was felt as far up as the town. The main industries are shipbuilding, chemicals, electrical apparatus and appliances, furniture and paper-making; both agricultural and industrial products are exported by water as well as by rail or road. In Groningen are the offices of the Netherlands Gas Union, a number of government agencies and the Post Office.Although there was a settlement on the site in ancient times, Groningen first appears in the records in 1040, when the Emperor Henry III granted the bishop of Utrecht a fief in the town, together with the right to coin money. The town received its municipal charter later in the 11th century. In the mid 13th century it broke away from its subordination to Utrecht, and in 1284, already a prosperous trading town, it became a member of the Hanseatic League and developed into one of the leading commercial centers in northern Europe. In 1515 it was incorporated in the duchy of Gelre, and in 1536 it was conquered by the Emperor Charles V. Around 1579 Groningen joined the Union of Utrecht, but a year later it was occupied by the Spaniards, who were finally driven out by Maurice of Nassau in 1594. Between 1608 and 1616 the town was surrounded by a 7km/4.5mi-long circuit of walls, with 17 towers. After a further siege in 1672, which the town successfully withstood, its fortifications were strengthened in 1698 by the celebrated Dutch military engineer Menno van Coehoorn. In 1874 the old walls gave place to a ring of promenades and canals. During the Second World War Groningen, and particularly the town center with its gabled houses of the 16th-18th centuries, suffered severe damage, but this was quickly made good after the war. Groningen was the birthplace of the painters Jozef Israëls (1824-1911) and W. H. Message (1831- 1915), both members of the Hague School.The city has several museums including the Groninger Museum, housed in a modern building designed by Alessandro Mendini. Groningen has a lively cultural scene with theatres that host concerts and cafes that host jazz jam sessions.
Groningen's principal shopping street is Herestraat, at the north end of which is the Grote Markt, the central feature of the town. From this square the Vismarkt (Fishmarket) runs southwest to the A-Kerkhof.
At the northeast corner of the Grote Markt is the St Martinikerk (Reformed), a brick Romanesque/Gothic basilica (13th C.). In the 15th century the church was rebuilt in Late Gothic style: the old choir was replaced by a new one with tall Gothic vaulting and an ambulatory, and a chapel and sacristy were built on to the north side. During restoration work in 1924, 16th century wall paintings were brought to light in the choir. The old organ was built in 1480 by the humanist and musician Rudolf Agricola (1442-85), who came from the Groningen area.
Opening hours: May 31 to Aug 31: 1pm-5pm; Closed: Sun, Mon
Entrance fee: FREE
Useful tips: Off season is by appointment only.
St Martinikerk Tower
The tower on St Martinikerk (1464-82; several times burned down and rebuilt; carillon) is the second highest in the Netherlands (96m/315ft) and Groningen's most prominent landmark.
To the east of St Martinikerk, in St Jansstraat, is the neo-Renaissance Provinciehuis, the seat of the provincial government. In the mid 16th century it was the headquarters of the marksmen's guild. It was restored in 1917 in the style of the 17th century. Notable features of the interior are the Hall of the States (Statenzaal), with portraits of members of the Orange family (17th C.), and the wood paneling and timber vaulting of 1697.
Beside the Provinciehuis is the Huis Cardinaal, with a Renaissance facade (1559) and a tower between its two wings. The medallions of Alexander the Great, King David and Charlemagne on the gable give the building its other name, "House of the Three Kings".
The Prinsenhof was originally a monastery (15th C.), in which Princes Maurice and Willem Lodewijk stayed in 1594. Later it successively became the residence of the Stadholder of Friesland, a school and a military hospital. It is now the offices of the regional broadcasting corporation, Omroep Noord.
Behind the Prinsenhof (entrance from Kattenhage or Turfsingel) is the Prinsenhoftuin, a 17th century rose and herb garden.
On the Zonnewijzerpoort on Turfsingel is a sundial of 1731 with a Latin motto and the letters W and A, referring to Stadholder William Frederick and his wife Albertina Agnes.
Natural History Museum
Adjoining the Prinsenhof is the Natural History Museum, founded in 1929 by the Royal Dutch Natural History Association. It is notable particularly for its collection of native Dutch animals, displayed in their natural surroundings.
In Oude Boteringestraat, northwest of the Grote Markt, are a number of interesting old houses:No. 17: in neo-Renaissance style.No. 19: a replica (1913) of a medieval house which stood in the Grote Markt until 1775 and at one time had been a tax office. Over the entrance is a fish with a coin in its mouth, symbolizing the extravagant spending of the municipal authorities.No. 24: one of the oldest stone-built houses in the town, dating from the Middle Ages.No. 23: a mid 18th century house with 13 temples on the gable.Nos. 36-38: a courthouse of 1755, restored in the early 20th century.No. 44: the former residence of the Queen's Commissioner. The house, in Louis XVI style, was built in 1791 by a doctor named J. v.d. Stege who had made his money in the Dutch East Indies.
At the end of Oude Boteringestraat is the old Guard House (1634): the name of the street is a corruption of Corps de Garde. The officers' quarters were on the heated second floor of the building, while the other ranks had the draughty arcaded gallery.
From Oude Boteringestraat, Broerstraat leads to Academieplein, with the Academiegebouw, the administrative offices of Groningen University. Founded in 1614, the present building, in neo-Renaissance style, was erected in 1907-09 after a fire in 1906 which destroyed the old University building. On the facade are various allegorical figures.Opposite the Academiegebouw is the University Library (1985).
At Zwanestraat 33, is the University Museum.On display at the museum are the university's collection which consists of a wide variety of items, including an Egyptian mummy, the first electromagnetic car, as well as pieces related to astronomy, ethnology, as well as temporary exhibits.
Near the Academiegebouw, at the corner of Oude Kijk in 't Jatstraat and Uurwerkersgang, can be seen a building called Harmonie, originally a club (1840), which served for many years as the Municipal Theater.
Fishmarket and Corn Exchange
To the west of the Grote Markt is the Vismarkt (Fishmarket), now a flower market. On the west side is the Corn Exchange (Korenbeurs) of 1865, in which corn is still sold every Tuesday. On the facade are figures of Ceres (the earth goddess), Mercury (god of traders and thieves) and Neptune (god of the sea and seafaring).
Beyond the Corn Exchange is the A- Kerk, formerly called the Dra-Kerk. Originally a Romanesque church (1247) dedicated to the Virgin and All Saints, it was rebuilt in Gothic style in the 15th century, with a very beautiful interior. A tower was added in the 18th century but twice collapsed. The church was restored from 1975 onwards.
Northern Shipping Museum
At Brugstraat 24-26, to the west of the A-Kerkhof, is the Northern Shipping Museum (Noordelijk Scheepvaartmuseum), housed in two medieval buildings, the Gotisch Huis and Canterhuis (the latter with a 19th century extension). The collection illustrates the history of inland and coastal shipping and fishing since Roman times, with ship models, pictures, parts of ships and navigational instruments; there is also a new section devoted to motor-powered boats.
In the same building as the Northern Shipping Museum is the Tobacco Museum (Tabacologisch Museum) of the Niemeyer company, with a unique collection of material on the history of tobacco-smoking ranging from 3,000- year-old American Indian pipes to the present day, illustrating the manufacture of pipes and displaying pipes, snuff-boxes, spittoons and tobacco jars of porcelain, silver, meerschaum, crystal and ivory.
The Groningen Museum (Groninger Museum voor Stad en Land),is a museum of antiquities and applied art. The collection includes examples of Chinese and Japanese porcelain and pictures, including works by the Groningen-born painters Jozef Israëls (1824-1911) and Hendrik Willem Message (1831-1915).
Address: Museumeiland 1, Groningen, Groningen 9700 ME, Netherlands
Opening hours: 10am-5pm; Sun: 1pm-5pm; Closed: Mon
Always closed on: New Year's Day (Jan 1), Dutch National Day (Apr 30), Christmas - Christian (Dec 25), Ascension Thursday - Christian
Entrance fee in EUR: Adult €10.00, Child 16 & under €5.00, Child 11 & under €3.00, Child 5 & under FREE
Disability Access: Full facilities for persons with disabilities.
The Film Museum at Gedempte Zuiderdiep 139 illustrates the development of films from the early shadow plays of Java and China to the present day. There is a collection of film projectors, and a small cinema for the showing of films.
East of the Film Museum along the Gedempte Zuiderdiep is the Synagogue (1906), in neo-Oriental style. The building was restored in 1981-82 and is used for concerts and exhibitions as well as for Jewish worship.
North of the Old Town
On the north side of the Spilsluizen is the Ossenmarkt, with two attractive old gabled houses, one dating from 1624 and the other built in the 18th century by a merchant named J. A. Sichterman. A cattle market was held in the square until 1892.
Somewhat east of the Spilsluizen is the Guyotplein, named after Pastor H. D. Guyot, who in 1790 founded the first institution for deaf and mute people in the Netherlands (in this square).
Nieuwe Kerk or Noorderkerk
Gerardus van der Leeuw Museum (Closed)
ATTRACTION IS CLOSED.At Nieuwe Kijk in 't Jatstraat 104, is the Gerardus van der Leeuw Museum of Ethnology, with a collection of extra-European artifacts.
In northwestern Groningen lies a beautiful park, the Noorderplantsoen, laid out on the site of the town's former fortifications.The park is often the site of several events.
Map of Groningen Attractions