What to see in Groningen: the youngest city in Holland
It is an ancient city with a young heart. And it’s hard to find a better compliment. Groningenthe largest urban center in the north ofHollandin fact, has a long history but lives day after day thanks to the enthusiasm of its large number student population. So when you ask yourself what to see in Groningen you have to take this into account, that is, its status as a University campus and of cultural center it has always positively influenced the atmosphere. And therefore there is a scene attentive to new artistic trends but also one lively nightlife as well as a number of museums that go beyond the usual content by covering unexpected sectors such as science, comics and even tobacco.
What to see in Groningen: the best known monuments
The old and new then they blend well in this city, which has a long history but which was extensively rebuilt after the devastating bombings in the Second World War due to the fact that it is located at the intersection of the Hoornsediep and Winschoterdiep canals, a key point for coastal navigation in the North Sea, which is only 20 kilometers away. The city has a rich history dating back to 1040 when the emperor Henry III granted the bishop of Utrecht a fiefdom in the city, together with the right to mint money. Later Groningen became part of the Hanseatic League assuming an important role among the main shopping centers in the northern Europe. Home to a university founded in 1614, the city has long been a hotbed of creative talent, including the birthplace of many artists, and today it is the perfect place for those who enjoy cycling. And moving between two wheels in these parts is really a pleasure since the entire urban area is crossed from beyond 145 km of cycle paths.
We talked about yesterday: now let’s go back to the present. Our guide on what to see in Groningen takes us to the heart of the center where theHerestraata wide pedestrian street full of shops with the usual brands of global fashion. But then it is enough to leave the main road to enter into narrower streets where small more interesting shops meet, with local handicrafts and many bars, cafes and restaurants. The symbolic building of the city is the church of San Martino che is next to the Grote Marktthe main market square, and is a basilica-style Romanesque-Gothic built in brick in the thirteenth century. The style is a bit eclectic but there is a reason: the cathedral was rebuilt in the 15th century when the old choir was replaced by one with high Gothic vaults and an ambulatory, while a chapel and sacristy were added on the north side. Inside there are interesting frescoes and an ancient organ but its most notable feature, however, is undoubtedly the church tower, Martinitoren in Dutch, which is 96 meters high, one of the records in Netherlandsand offering great views of the Grote Markte and on the city center.
What to see in Groningen: the old town
Shall we continue our visit? It will be a pleasure because the old City it is a very pleasant place to discover, both on foot and by bike. We will certainly dedicate a stop to the Town Hall buildingin a neoclassical style that is always located in the Grote Markt not far from another building, much older which is called Goudkantooror theGold Office, because the debt collectors used to stay here. Other palaces are those of the provincial government seat, with its 17th century portraits, wooden panels and vaults, and theHuis Cardinaal with its Renaissance facade from 1559. A curiosity: this building is also known as the house of the Three Kings for its medallions of Alexander the Great, King David and Charlemagne on the pediment. If the season allows it, after this walk, there is a stop at Prinsenhof Gardena beautiful Renaissance style garden attached to an ancient 15th century convent which is located near a canal where it is pleasant to continue the walk.
What to see in Groningen: the University
Our itinerary that tells what to see in Groningen now leads touniversity founded, as mentioned, in 1614. However, the main building, seat of the administrative offices, is later, having been built in 1909 in a neo-Renaissance style with a series of interesting allegorical figures on the facade. The University Museum founded in 1934 which collects objects of various kinds from an Egyptian mummy to the first example of an electromagnetic car in the world. Guided tours, if you are interested, are in English and are conducted by students. We then continue aiming straight towards the Groningen museum, founded in 1874, which is one of the most technologically advanced art galleries in the Netherlands. In a beautiful post-modern building on the banks of the Verbindingskanaal, its three main pavilions house exhibitions of modern and contemporary art by local and international artists, as well as works from the museum’s permanent collections. The strong points of its collections concern finds related to history and culture of Groningen with pieces ranging from archeology to traditions. Then there are paintings, porcelain and silver artifacts, one of the ancient local traditions.
We explained that the city is alive right away. But the highlight is probably there third week of August when, starting from 1991, the Noorderzon Performing Arts Festival. This event takes place in the main public park of the city and attracts up to every year 150,000 visitors to attend numerous theatrical, dance and musical performances, as well as literary events, presentations of visual arts alongside convivial spaces.
At this point we have two choices: either to use a motor vehicle or to do like the locals who travel by bike. And go and discover the Lauwersmeer National Park. It is a National Park just 38 km a northwest of Groningenon the coast of North Sea, and is one of the most popular recreation and conservation areas in the country and a place that must be on the list of what to see in Groningen. Formerly known as the sea of Lauwers it was separated from the sea proper in 1969 and the result was that salt water was gradually replaced by fresh water, bringing with it a new variety of flora and fauna. It has since become a popular recreation area that offers beyond 50 km of hiking and biking trails, including a dedicated 45km track that runs through many beautiful scenic areas and small villages. The park also attracts water sports enthusiasts who can practice sailing here canoe and the kite surfingwhile the birdwatching it has become more and more popular thanks to huts and places for observation.
How to get to Groningen
Groningen has a own airport with connections with many European countries in particular ofSouthern Europe. From the airport to the center there is a bus that leaves every thirty minutes and takes about half an hour. By train there are connections with other cities of theHolland how Amsterdam (2h), The Hague (2h30m), Utrecht (2h) e Rotterdam (2h40m).