's-Hertogenbosch Tourist Attractions
The provincial capital of 's- Hertogenbosch (Den Bosch for short; in French Bois-le-Duc) lies at the confluence of the Dommel and the Aa and on the Zuid Willemsvaart in an area of flat pastures, much of which is flooded every winter.
It is a busy commercial town (important livestock markets), with a varied range of industry (cigar manufacture, foodstuffs, hardware, etc.).'s-Hertogenbosch takes its name from Duke (Hertog) Henry I of Brabant, who gave the town its municipal charter in 1185 in order to secure the northern borders of his duchy against Gelderland and Holland. Excellently situated from the point of view of transport, the fortified town soon developed into a busy trading center. The situation changed, however, when the town was taken by the Spaniards in 1520. In 1559 's-Hertogenbosch became the see of a bishop. In 1629 the town was recovered by Frederick Henry, and thus became cut off from Brabant. In 1794 it was occupied by the French, but was liberated by the Prussians in 1814. The town's fortifications were razed to the ground in 1856. 's-Hertogenbosch was the birthplace of the celebrated painter Hieronymus (Jeroen) Bosch (1450-1516) and of Theodor van Thulden (1606-69), a friend and pupil of Rubens.The town has retained most of its historic heritage and works to maintain the buildings, fortifications, churches and statues. The 'de Moriaan', built in the 13th century, is the oldest remaining brick building in the Netherlands. St John's Cathedral is another notable landmark in 's-Hertogenbosch, it dates back to 1220 and features Gothic design.
The central feature of the 's-Hertogenbosch town center, a triangular area between the Dommel and the Zuid Willemsvaart, is the Markt, which is also triangular. From this central point the town's three main streets (Hinthamerstraat, Vughterstraat and Hoge Steenweg) lead to the three angles of the triangle. The town's first circuit of walls enclosed this central area. The markets held twice weekly, on Wednesdays and Saturdays, recall the days when 's-Hertogenbosch was an important market center for the agricultural region surrounding the town.
Hieronymus Bosch Statue
In front of the Town Hall is a bronze statue of the town's most famous citizen, Hieronymus Bosch.
The oldest brick-built house in the town, De Moriaan, a fortress-like structure dating from the 13th century, was probably part of the town wall enclosing the market square. Restored between 1962 and 1966, it now houses the tourist information office (VVV). On the first floor is an exhibition of photographic reproductions of the works of Hieronymus Bosch: there are no originals of his paintings in his native town.
On the south side of the square stands the Town Hall (Stadhuis), originally Gothic but remodeled in Baroque style, with neo-classical features, in 1671. On the front gable is a handsome clock, incorporating mechanical figures representing a tournament between mounted knights which operate every half- hour. The tower (1650) has a carillon of 35 bells which rings every Wednesday between 10 and 11 am. Notable features of the interior are the entrance hall, with wall paintings by the fin de siècle artist Antoon Derkinderen (1892 and 1897); tapestries by Max van den Gucht (17th C.) in the Council Chamber; and the Gothic vaulting in the cellar (1529).
The huge St Janskathedraal is a splendid medieval church. The Gothic design was added between the late 14th and early 16th C, although the church dates to the late 13th C.
To the northeast of the Cathedral is the Zwanenbroederhuis, a white building which is the headquarters of the Illustre Lieve Vrouwe Broederschap or Zwanenbroederschap (Illustrious Confraternity of Our Lady or Confraternity of Swans), said to have been founded in 1318. Although it was originally a Roman Catholic society, it began to admit Protestants (among them William I) after the Reformation. The name Confraternity of Swans comes from the practice, dating back to the 14th century, of serving swans at an annual ceremonial banquet on the fourth Thursday in October. Since 1629 the confraternity has consisted of 36 members, 18 Catholics and 18 Protestants. The membership of this select club now includes five members of the royal family.
In Hinthamerstraat (and in other streets in the town) are a number of old houses with fine gables. At Nos. 203-205 is the oldest psychiatric clinic in the Netherlands, founded in 1442. At the end of the street is a house with a handsome Gothic gable.
Museum of North Brabant
Since 1987 the Museum of North Brabant (Central Noordbrabants Museum) has been housed in the former Gouvernementshuis at Verwersstraat 41. This 18th century building in Louis XVI style was from 1820 the official residence of the governor of the town and from 1983 the residence of the Queen's Commissioner for the province. The original palace was extended by the addition of two wings. The Museum has collections of Roman, Germanic, Frankish and later antiquities, manuscripts, pictures, drawings, maps and coins of 's-Hertogenbosch and the province of Noord-Brabant. There is also a large library.
There are some remains of 's-Hertogenbosch's fortifications, like the Citadel (1639), with cannon pointing towards the town to assert the authority of the state over the citizens. Four of the original five bastions also survive. The Citadel, restored between 1982 and 1985, now houses the provincial archives.
On the south side of the town is the Oranje (Orange) Bastion, with a cannon of 1511 known as Bose Griet, almost 6.5m/21ft long, with a bore of 17cm/6- 5/8in. The cannon was cast in Cologne and bears the legend "I protect 's- Hertogenbosch"; it proved, however, to be unfit for use. Farther east is the Baselaar Bastion.
The Kruithuis (Powder Magazine) at Citadellaan 7 was built in 1618-21 for the storage of ammunition outside the town walls, but only a few years later, in 1629, was taken by Prince Frederick Henry because the defenders were short of ammunition. The inner courtyard has a handsome gabled facade.
In the southeast of the town, on the shores of the Zuiderplas, is the Provinciehuis, a tower block over 100m/330ft high which houses the offices of the provincial government. It contains a collection of modern art (tapestries, sculpture).
The Refugiehuis on the Spinhuiswal was built by the abbey of St Geertruid at Louvain in the early 16th century to provide a refuge for its monks within the town walls in the event of a siege.
Northwest of 's-Hertogenbosch is the old fortified town of Heusden, which with its ring of walls and canals was an important element in the defense of Holland between 1580 and 1620. Thereafter the town declined, and in 1913 the harbor was closed down. After restoration work in the 1960s, however, the old harbor is once again operational as a yacht harbor.Heusden attracts many tourists each year who come to visit the town center and walk along the defensive walls of Heusden.
A church of interest in Huesden is the Italian-style Grote Kerk or St Catharijnekerk (13th C.).
Features of interest in Heusden are the three windmills on the town walls.
Rosmalen - Autotron Automobile Museum
At Rosmalen, east of 's-Hertogenbosch, is the Autotron Automobile Museum, with some 250 veteran and vintage cars (Mercedes, Spijker, DAF, Bugatti and Peugeot). The museum is set in an amusement park where the attractions include a "traffic park" for children and the "House of the Future", which introduces visitors to possible developments in domestic amenities (e.g. a swimming pool with a glass roof which can be opened by a verbal command).
Map of 's-Hertogenbosch Attractions