I was really pleasantly surprised when I visited Amsterdam a few months back (when it was rather warmer than the dreadful top of zero degrees I suffered in England today) to discover how many wonderful things there were to see in Holland, and how easy they were to get to. I already posted about my day trip to see the wonderful windmills of Zaanse Schans (read it here), and this week I wanted to reminisce about Delft.
Delft is an unspoiled, traditional Dutch town complete with picturesque canals and architecture.
So, you see it’s pretty. But, it’s also famous for stuff. Like …
Willem of Orange
Willem of Orange is considered the founding father of the Netherlands. The national anthem of the Netherlands, the Wilhelmus, was originally a propaganda song for William. He led an uprising or something and ended up being assassinated in Delft in 1584. His tomb is in the New Church (Markt 80, Delft), which you can see in the distance at the end of this oh-so-picturesque street:
Vermeer was one of the greatest painters of the Dutch Golden Age. Delft is the city where he was born in 1632, and where he worked and lived. Almost all his paintings are apparently set in two smallish rooms in his house in Delft; they show the same furniture and decorations in various arrangements and they often portray the same people, mostly women. Vermeer did two townscapes: View of Delft and A street in Delft. Exactly which streets in Delft these paintings depict are unknown as the houses no longer exist.
Delft was one of the most important ceramics producers in Europe between 1600 and 1800. After the mid-18th century, there was a rise in mass produced pottery and the industry suffered, although the handmade original Royal Delft pottery is still highly valued worldwide. A visit to the Royal Delft was surprisingly interesting as it is the last remaining Delftware manufacturer. They will tell you about the history and how it is made. There are also some amazing murals to see. You can get there easily from the centre of Delft – hop on bus 40 and get off at Rotterdamseweg 196, Delft.
There are trains from Amsterdam Centraal to Delft daily leaving every 30 minutes. You have to change at Leiden Centraal. The total travel time is 57 minutes and a single ticket is €12.40.
You could also rent a car and drive via A4. The travel time is about an hour.
You could combine with a stop at the Hague
It’s only 15 minutes on the train from Delft to the Hague, so why not?
There you could actually see Vermeer’s “Girl with the Pearl Earring” along with masterpieces by Rembrandt, Hals and Steen, at the Mauritshuis (Korte Vijverberg 8).
You can see the workplace of the king, the Palace Noordeinde (Noordeinde 64, The Hague), which is next to this nice lake, the “Hofvijver”.
The Hague is also known for the Peace Palace (Carnegieplein 2, The Hague), home of the International Court of Justice. The Palace is open to the public through guided tours.
A 48min train ride will bring you back to Amsterdam Central Station.
Complete your experience
“Chasing Vermeer” by Blue Balliett tells the story of the fictional theft of Vermeer’s painting “A Lady Writing”.
Tracy Chevalier’s novel was adapted into a movie “Girl with a Pearl Earring” (2003). It tells the (fictional) story of Vermeer’s creation of the famous painting and his relationship with the model (played by Scarlett Johannsen).
There are a lot of delicious Dutch foods. Dutch pancakes! A million different cheeses! Bitterballen! Stroopwafel! Raw herring!
In the absence of having any favourite Dutch artists, and in honour of his win today in the Triple J Hottest 100 – Flume’s “Never Be Like You”