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Tourism and recreation in the Netherlands

History of Amersfoort

Amersfoort in the Netherlands is a 750 plus year old city with a rich history. While it is growing rather fast it still retains much of its medieval roots. Located in the central part of the country, it is the second largest city in Utrecht province. As mentioned above, the city has a rich history and it goes back a very long way.

How far back you may be wondering? Well, try the Mesolithic era. Indeed, traces of camps dating back that far have been discovered by archaeologists. As far as city rights though, those were granted in 1259 by Utrecht’s bishop. In 1300 the city of Amersfoort put up a brick-built defensive wall.

One thing that is remarkable about the inner part of the city is the fact that is has been very well preserved since the time of the Middle Ages. Not surprisingly, many of the buildings and monuments in Amersfoort have been declared national monuments. Like many other areas of the Netherlands, Amersfoort for a time was a hotbed of textile production and brewing. For a time in the 18th century it was even a major tobacco producer.

Amersfoort subsequently went through its share of ups and mostly downs. However, in 1970 the government of the Netherlands declared it to be a growth city. This has led to a doubling of the city’s population to its current level of 140,000 to 150,000.

As with the rest of the country, and in part due to its neighboring Germany, Amersfoort was greatly impacted by World War II. Seeing as to how it was the biggest garrison town in the country prior to the war, the entire population, which at the time numbered approximately 43,000, was cleared out of the city ahead of Germany’s expected invasion in May of 1940. However they were allowed to return four days later.

There were in the area of 700 Jews in the city at the outset of the war, with half of them being deported and subsequently killed. Additionally, their 200 plus year old synagogue was badly damaged on orders from the city government which was under Nazi control.

Today Amersfoort is a very attractive place, both for tourists as well as those looking to make a home there. It is also one of the most powerful areas in Europe in terms of economy. Unemployment is quite low and there is a strong job base with well paying positions favoring those with higher education.

History of Enschede

Enschede is a city located in the utmost Eastern end of the Netherlands, just minutes away from the German border. The early history of Enschede is for the most part unknown, but it is widely believed that there were inhabitants in medieval times around the location of the Old Marketplace. City rights were granted right around the year 1300, although they were not officially confirmed until 1325.

Like many other cities of the time, Enschede’s houses and buildings were mainly constructed of wood, which greatly increased the risk of fire damage. And indeed, the city was the scene of catastrophic fires in 1517, 1750 and 1862.

Right after the final major fire, industry boomed in Enschede with textiles leading the way. One of their specialties was a unique blend of cotton and linen, which struck it big in terms of exports.

During World War II, like many other cities throughout Europe, Enschede fell under German control. In fact, due to its close proximity to the German border, it was one of the first to do so. Although the majority of the Jews in the city were killed by the Germans, Enschede in fact had more survivors than most other Dutch cities.

Enschede also saw more than its share of Allied bombing missions during World War II because the Germans had set up a major command center there. It was eventually liberated by Allied troops, most of who were from Canada on April 1, 1945.

The city took a major hit in the 1970’s when its textile production came to a screeching halt, largely in part due to overwhelming competition from Far Eastern countries. In fact, the city careened downhill to the point where they had to declare bankruptcy.

Despite the fact that the city went through a period of rough economic times, in recent years it has undergone somewhat of a resurgence. Major department stores and shopping centers have popped up. The Old Market Square often features live music, a variety of events and many other activities during weekends.

Enschede is also home to the University of Twente, one of only three technical universities in the country. Further, the university is the only large campus college in the nation. While Enschede has seen more than its share of rough times, it is still able to maintain a rich cultural tradition. And thousands of people from around the world visit the city every year.

The History of Almere

Almere is the Netherland’s youngest city and is located in the Flevoland province. The city officially became a municipality in 1984, but Almere’s first home was constructed in 1976. Not surprisingly, the town is the largest in Flevoland and the seventh largest in the country.

Almere’s Brief History

The town of Almere was built on reclaimed land and was originally planned to address housing shortages in Schiphol and Amsterdam. The city is named after Zuiderzee, an early medieval name. Although the town is newly built, its soil dates back nearly ten thousand years. During prehistoric times, the area was a tundra zone and was also inhabited by humans. These nomadic inhabitants were hunters and gatherers who roamed from one place to another. The city of Almere and the province of Flevoland are rich in archaeological ruins that provide a glimpse into the country’s prehistoric past.

From the get-go, city planners envisioned an urban environment that made it simple and easy for residents to commute to Het Gooi and Schiphol. With Almere being only 30km south of Amsterdam, it is also easy for residents to commute to the country’s capital city as well.

Almere was originally designed as a nuclei of neighborhoods, each with their own identities and facilities. These nuclei would be unified with one common city center. This plan was eventually abandoned in order to allow for neighborhoods such as Tussen de Vaarten to be constructed.

Almere Haven was the first “nuclei” to be built. The first pile that was driven in 1974 would eventually go on to become a telephone exchange center. On the 1st of December in 1975, the first residents of the city were given keys to their temporary homes. Just one year later, the first brick homes were constructed. Housing projects in Almere Sad, another nuclei, were completed in 1979. The third nuclei, Almere Buiten, was constructed in the 1980s.

Looking Ahead

Although the city’s population is quickly growing, Almere is more of a suburban city rather than urban. It is home to many young families, open green parks and large garden areas. Part of the reason why the city has attracted a young population is because the city offers a lower cost of living and is safer than other surrounding cities.

Two more nuclei are in being developed in the city – Almere Hout and Almere Poort. Several more nuclei are still in the planning stages for the future. Almere is one of the fastest growing cities in all of Europe and is aiming to become the fifth largest city in the Netherlands in the next few decades.

Transportation in Nijmegen

Located on near the border of Germany, the city of Nijmegen, in the Netherlands is a beautiful and exciting city to visit. This city is over two thousand years old and is one of the oldest cities in the Netherlands, if not the oldest. Should you decide to make a visit, or if you are planning on moving there for work or school, knowing how to get around is very important. Here is what you need to know about the Transportation options.

Getting to Nijmegen

When planning you trip, you will need to decide how to get to the city. There are several options available depending on the location of your departure and how much time and money you wish to spend.


Unfortunately there are no airports with direct service into Nijmegen. There are however, three airports within 45 to 110 km from the city. From any of these you will need to take public transportation the rest of the way. The three airport locations are: Airport Weeze; Eindhoven Airport and Flughafen Düsseldorf.

Train - Train service is operated by Dutch Railways and has routes from most points in the Netherlands to Nijmegen.

Bus - If coming from Germany, the cities of Kleve and Emmerich are connected to Nijmegen by bus. Rides are available seven days a week, but trips are somewhat spotty on Sunday.

Car - You can choose to drive to Nijmegen if you prefer. There are various motorways that connect with the city. Use caution however, as traffic in the city is notoriously congested.

Getting Around in Nijmegen

Like most cities in the Netherlands, there are the same basic transportation options available in Nijmegen as well. The only exception is that the city has neither a tram nor a metro line within the city.

Bus - You can get around the city by bus, using the same OV-chipcard as is recognized in the rest of the Netherlands. In some cases, the card can be used in lieu of a ticket for some train rides. There are two companies that provide bus service. They are: Breng and Hermes.

Car - While you are permitted to drive a car in the city, it is not generally recommended. There is a severe congestion problem in the city, and accidents are a regular occurrence, so unless you are supremely confident, it is best to avoid this option if possible. Parking is also very expensive and difficult to find.

Bicycle - This is by far the most popular way to get around in the city. Bicycles can be rented from the underground storage facility near the Central Station if you are only visiting for a short time, or you can purchase a used bike for a reasonable price if your stay is lengthier. Riding bicycles is the primary method of transportation in most cities in the Netherlands.


There is a lot to see and do in this beautiful city. Take some time and map out the sights, and activities you would like to experience and choose the transportation methods that are right for you.