LIJN49 free self-guided 4.9 kilometer city walk Amersfoort

Amersfoort is an unique city in the center of the Netherlands. It is the only town in the Netherlands where the first city wall was converted to houses (wall houses) when the second city wall was built. When you walk through the streets and the many market squares of the inner city of Amersfoort, you wander back in time to the middle ages.

As a backpacker I always liked the flexibility and freedom of sightseeing a city in your own pace and time. This free self-guided city walk shows you the city center of Amersfoort with the inside knowledge of someone who is born and bred in this beautiful medieval city.

The total walking distance is only 4.9 kilometer. The city walk will guide you to 50 historic highlights . Every highlight has a picture (for easy recognition) and a short explanation in English about its origin or history with walking directions to the next highlight.

The total duration of the full tour is two hours (one hour walking and one hour sightseeing). When you take the shortcuts, you will still see 36 point of interest in just one hour (half an hour walking and half an hour sightseeing).

When you start your city walk at our lunchroom, ask for the Google Maps route link (QR-code) to import the route on your smartphone. Less tech savvy tourists from outside the EU, can use the free WIFI at LIJN49 to make a PDF-print of this web-page on their smartphone (to prevent roaming costs). Visitor from within the EU can just bookmark this page and use the walking directions provided in the detailed highlights description.

The map below shows the entire route in green with the shortcuts in red. These shortcuts are also added as (red) fast forward button in the detailed city walk description.

LIJN49 city tour

Usage and copyright
The LIJN49 city tour is free to use and may be used by any tourist visiting Amersfoort. All content is published under the CC BY-NC-SA copyright, meaning the content may be used non-commercially, as long as Lunchroom LIJN49 is credited and it is licensed under identical terms (for free).

Legal disclaimer
LIJN49 can not be hold responsible for errors in the provided information nor any injury or loss occurred by walking this free self-guided tour or visiting any of the highlights.

1. Lunchroom LIJN49 (Hellestraat 49)

Lunchroom LIJN49

Lunchroom LIJN49 is also a protected monument.  It is built in an architectural style which emerged after the second world war at the technical University of Delft.

This style (the ‘Delftse School’) is known for its sober and rational design using traditional brick building techniques.  Construction mass should be in balance with space and light. Less is more is one of the well-known guiding principles of this Dutch design style.

Detour when passage is closed

Facing LIJN49 turn right. After 25 meters, take the passage on the left before the supermarket. The passage is normally open from 08.00 to 22.00 and from 10.00 to 20.00 on Sundays.

When the passage is closed, continue another 100 meter on the Hellestraat and turn (first) left into the Utrechtsestraat. After 60 meters take the (first) left into the Westsingel. After 90 meters you will see the pedestrian bridged across the canal to the tower.

2. OLV toren – tower of Our Lady (Krankeledenstraat 30)

Long John tower

Our Lady tower is nicknamed ‘Lange Jan’ (Long John). It was completed in 1460 and is 98.33 meters high. Because Amersfoort was part of the Archdiocese of Utrecht, the tower had to be shorter than the DOM tower of Utrecht (which is 112,32 meters).

The tower was built with the gifts of pilgrims who came to see the statue of the virgin Maria which was displayed at the chape house (see 4) This Maria statue was supposed to have divine healing powers. Walk across the canal bridge to the entrance of the tower (at the other side) for a peek inside the tower.

Centre of Netherlands

Outside the church you will see a grey X- and Y-line. The tower was the geographical center (zero coordinate) until previous century. The zero reference was moved into the North Sea, so all coordinates are positive (prevent plus/minus mistakes). On the floor inside the tower the former zero coordinate is marked.

The doors are often open because it is possible to climb 346 steps to the third stage of the tower. Ask at the tourist office at the Breestraat 1 at the corner of the square. The turret at the corner were the Y-axis is marked on the ground, is a little bigger than the other three. The tower and the larger turret symbolize the Virgin Mother Maria holding the baby Jezus.

3. Lieve Vrouwkerkhof – Our Lady square with contour of church

Our Lady square

During the Dutch Rebellion (between 1781 and 1795) republicans tried to reduce the power of  the regent Prince William the fifth of Orange. Amersfoort was an Orangists’ stronghold. When the rebellions chased the William the fifth out of the Hague, the Prince fled to Amersfoort and temporarily stayed in the ‘house with the purple windows’ (see 11).

At that time the church was used as an arms depot. In August 1787 it exploded due to an accident with gun powder (they did not had ‘smoking kills’ health warning on cigarette packets in those days). The tower survived the blast, because it was build on the firm foundation of the city wall. The contour of the church is still visible on the square. The Chapel house is on the lower corner of the square (marked 4)

4. Kapelhuisje – chapel house (Krankeledenstraat 11)

Chape house

The Chapel house dates back to 1520. At the corner of the ‘Lieve Vrouwekerkhof’ and the Krankeledenstraat you will see an empty shrine. This was the shrine where the statue of the Virgin Maria statue was displayed.

The name of the Krankeleden street refers to the ill (kranke) people (leden) walking passed the Maria statue hoping to be healed by the Miracle of Amersfoort.

Continue on the ‘Lieve Vrouwenkerkhof’ to the corner of the square. At the end turn right into the ‘Lieve Vrouwestraat’.

5. Medieval wooden houses (Lieve Vrouwestraat 6 and 8)

Last wooden houses

During the 80 year Dutch independence war from 1568 until 1648 Amersfoort was under siege a few times. Many wooden houses were destroyed by fire caused by the daily canon shootings during a siege.

To reduce the risk of fire, the city council decided in 1645 that all wooden houses had to be converted to brick houses. A smart tavern owner only replaced the woorden façade with brick to prevent downtime and loss of business. Not only did they save costs, but they also saved these old wooden houses (built before 1540) for future generations.

Take the first street left at the end of the ‘Lieve Vrouwestraat’, called the Langestraat (long street).

6. Langestraat – long street

Long street

This shopping street runs straight through the old city center and was first hardened around 11th century with 5.6 meter trees (wide enough to let two horse carts pass). Langestraat (long street) was paved after Amersfoort got its city rights in 1259.

It got its name because it simple was the longest street at that time. Some shop facades still reveal their history like the shop on number 45 which is marked ‘anno 1628’ (built in 1628).

After just 80 meters turn right to the Kortegracht (short canal) at the vishal (fish market).

7. Vishal – fish market (Kortegracht 1)

Fish market

When you notice this small open building on the right, turn right into the Kortegracht. This open building from 1657 was used as a fish market. The fishmongers used to prepare and sell their fish on the hard stone tables in the fish market.

The stone tables are from a similar fish market from the city of Haarlem. When they converted the market to tourist shops in the previous century Amersfoort got the hard stone tables to complete this national monument.

8. Mondriaanhuis – Mondriaan house (Kortegracht 11)

Mondrriaan modern art

Halfway the Kortegracht you will find the Mondriaanhuis. This is the house where the painter Mondriaan was born. The museum gives an impression of his work and life. It is open from Tuesday to Sunday from 11.00 to 17.00 hour.

He was one of the pioneers of abstract art, known for his squares in red, yellow, and blue. Composition no 3 was sold for 44 million euro (50 million dollar) in 2015 in New York.

Story goes that he was as square as his paintings and used to de-friend fellow artists, just because they used an arch or round shape in their paintings. A few meters further on the right, have a look at the synagogue in the Drieringensteeg.

9. Joodse synagoge – Jewish synagogue (Drieringensteeg 2)

The first Jewish merchant came to Amersfoort in 1650. Jewish merchants and traders propelled the emerging tobacco industry in Amersfoort. Because of their contribution to the local economy they were allowed to build a synagogue in 1727.

Amersfoort, like Amsterdam, had a flourishing Jewish community. Sadly they suffered heavily in the second world war. The little black memorial stones in the Drieringensteeg, close to the Synagogue entrance,  are a reminder of this black page in European history.

Walk back to the Kortegracht again and turn right to proceed to the Muurhuizen (wall houses).

10 Tinnenburg  – battlements house ( Muurhuizen 25 )

Battlements house

Tinnenburg, at the end of the Kortegracht, is one the oldest wall houses (Muurhuizen). It was converted to a merchant house in 1414 when the second defense wall was built. You can still see the contour of the 7 meter high and 60 cm thick wall.

All ‘muurhuizen’ with ‘burg’ in their name probably were strongholds (burg means fortification) in the first city wall. Tinnen is old Dutch for battlements. The battlements visible at the front and back of the roof of the house probably gave this house its name.

In the 16th century Tinneburg was converted to spinning mill where the cildren of the nearby Weeshuis (see 14) were put to work. Child labor was quite common and kids often worked in mills and factories.

11 Huis met paarse ruiten  – purple windows house ( Zuidsingel 38 )

House with purple windows

Walk to the iron fence on the stone bridge below Tinnenburg and look across the water to the east to see a Louis 16th style house with purple windows. The windows get their color from the mineral manganese used in the glass of the windows. This type of glass was very popular when it was was built in 1780.

During the Dutch rebellion Benjamin Cohen offered this residence to Prince regent William the 5th of Orange. The meetings of the 40 members of the ‘Staten Generaal’ (parliament) were also located to Amersfoort (only the 20 to 25 loyal members followed the Prince to Amersfoort).

Walk a few meters into the Muurhuizen (until your are parallel to the stair entrance of Tinnenburg).

12 Gasthuys – former St. Elizabeth hospital (Muurhuizen 33 )

Gasthuys hospital

Looking up into the Muurhuizen, you see a white building with an octagonal tower. From 1578 until 1907 this was the Saint Elizabeth Hospital. It was the first hospital in Amersfoort founded by the brother hood of the holy spirit (also known as holy trinity). Only people not having contagious deceases were taken care of.

When you want to take the shortcut, walk towards the St. Elizabeth hospital and continue walking on the Muurhuizen to number 97 (and press the red button below). When you want to continue the route with the next highlight (Bollenburg) turn back and walk south until you see the ‘Weeshuisgang’ (orphanage passage) on the left. This passage takes you across the city canal. Turn right at the Zuidsingel.

13. Bollenburg  – skittles house (Muurhuizen 19)

Bollenburg was built in 1398. It was converted from a stronghold to a house in the 14th century. In 1547 the Secretary of State Johan van Oldenbarnevelt was born in this house. He was the initiator of the Dutch East Indies Company (VOC). The VOC was the first stock funded company in the world in 1602 (making the Dutch stock exchange also the oldest in the World).

In the 16th century it became a spinning mill (like neighboring Tinnenburg). In the 17th century it was an inn where one also could play skittle (‘bollen’ in old Dutch), which explains its name.

Probably because the children of the ‘Burgerweeshuis’ orphanage (see 14) walked to and from the mills at Bollenburg and Tinnenburg, the connecting passage was called the ‘Weeshuisgang’ (orphanage passage).

Continue southbound on the Zuidsingel.

14. Burgerweeshuis – orphanage home (entrance before Zuidsingel 23)

Orphanage home

The Saint Nicolas orphanage was founded in 1551. It moved to this location (including the Mariënhof see 15) in 1612 and remained an orphanage until 1929. In July and August you can visit this orphanage for free and travel  back to the 16th century thanks to the role players of ‘living history’ Amersfoort.

Proceed south on the Zuidsingel and turn left at first street called ‘Kleine Haag’. At the end of the ‘Kleine Haag’ (just after 100 meters) follow the brick wall on the left (which turns into the park). 

15. Mariënhof – Maria’s court (entrance on Plantsoen Zuid)

Maria's court

This convent was built in 1479 by the Black sister of Saint Ursula (Cellezusters). They were called the black sisters because they also cared for people suffering from the plague. The plague was nicknamed the black death (hence black sisters).

The black sisters moved to ‘Armen de Poth’ in 1547 (see 22). The monks of the brotherhood of Augustine moved back to Amersfoort in 1543 who named it Maria’s court after their monastery in neighboring village Soest was demolished by Maarten van Rossum, a field general of the Duke of Geulders (Hertog van Gelderland) feared for his ruthless actions against citizens. With the surrender of Geulders , all counties of the Netherlands came under the rule of the king of Spain (emperor Charles the Fifth).

Continue to walk to the Monikkendam watergate.

16. Monnikendam – second wall watergate (Plantsoen Oost)

Monk's watergate

This double tower watergate was built approximately around 1420 as part of the second city wall. Its main purpose was to control the water level by either allowing it to flow into the city or reroute it into the canal on the outside of the second city wall. It is probably named after the Augustine monks which lived at the ‘St. Andrieskamp’ from until 1420 and returned to the Mariënhof in 1543.

‘Plantsoen Zuid’ (South park) becomes ‘Plantsoen East’ (East park) when you cross this watergate. Continue to walk into the East park until the first street on the left (called the Herenstraat). Walk strait over the canal bridge (called the Schoutensteeg) and turn right into the Muurhuizen.

17. Dieventoren – thief’s tower (Muurhuizen 97)

Thief's tower

It’s square shape makes it vulnerable for incoming cannonballs. Gunpowder was (re)discovered in the 13th century in Europe. That is why historians think it is early 13th century when the Archdiocese of Utrecht was often at war with the Duke of Geulders. It would make sense to build fortifications on the east side of the city (the province of Gelderland side) before constructing the first defense wall around the city.

It was first mentioned in 1434 when the city prison was moved from beneath the city hall to this tower. It probably got its name because it remained a prison until 1889.

Continue to the Muurhuizen 109 (Secretarishuisje).

18. Secretarishuisje – city secretary house (Muurhuizen 109)

Secretary house

Built in 1560, this house got its name because it was redesigned by the Amersfoort city secretary Jan Both in 1776. He was from an influential family with many politicians. One of his ancestors was Amersfoort born Pieter Both, who was the first governor of the Dutch East Indies.

Due to its odd and characteristic placement of windows, it deserved a place in the KLM Delft blue miniature ‘houses of Holland’ gift series. When you are so fortunate to fly business class, ask for house number 89, the Secretary house.

Proceed and turn right at the first street.

19. Kamperbinnenpoort – city gate (between Langestraat en Kamp)

Kamperbinnenpoort city gate

The Kamperbinnenpoort or Viepoort was first mentioned in 1381. It was the city gate (poort) where cattle (vie in old Dutch) was held in a corral (Kamp, derived from the Latin word campus) before being sold at the market in Amersfoort.

Its inner courtyard is the shortest street of the city. The Kamperbinnenpoort (street) connects the Langestraat (long street) with the Kamp (coral).

Walk through the gate and immediately turn left onto the Weverssingel when you want to take the shortcut, (continue with 26), otherwise proceed on the street called Kamp (continue with 20).

20. Gekroonde Byenkorf – former warehouse (Kamp 10)

17th century Warehouse

Initially the Kamp provided a safe ground for traders selling cattle on the markets. When the city expanded in the 17th century (from 1601 to 1700), this area was converted to ware houses.

The warehouse on number 10 is built in 1687 and has a gabble stone above the second window. It represents a beehive with a cherub (angel) on each side. The beehive probably refers to its use as a warehouse.

The warehouse continues in the Coninckstraat (King’s street). Pully hand cranes above each windows were used to hoist goods through the windows. When you look closely you will see it even has a door for larger objects. Continue into the Coninckstraat.


21. Tabaksplant – former warehouse (Coninckstraat 15)

Tobacco house

This 17th century store house is converted to a boutique hotel the Tabaksplant.  Its name refers to its old function of drying tobacco. Breeding boxes and drying houses were Dutch innovations to deal with the wet Dutch climate.

In 1604 the production of tobacco was banned in the United Kingdom. Some farmers emigrated to the Netherlands and discovered that the sandy soil around Amersfoort was very suitable for growing tobacco. The first tobacco farmer started in 1615 and in 1680 over 200 farmers were registered in the tobacco guild.

22. Armen de Poth hofje – black kettle almshouses (Coninckstraat 41)

Almshouses court

The brotherhood of the holy spirit provided shelter and bread for the poor. The brotherhood moved to this location in 1525, because it already had a chapel (built in 1500). In those days the Roman Catholic church used to shuffle with nuns and monks of different branches depending on their size and succes (and need for housing). This were the same monks which started the Saint Elizabeth Hospital in 1578 on the Muurhuizen 33 (see 12 Gasthuys).

The English information on the website of the Black kettle almshouses (link) mentions that by chance this court was already named Pothof (kettle court). But in those days it was quite common to use a (black) kettle as a collection box for donations (so the people donating money, knew their gifts were used to feed the poor). This explains the black kettle wall plague above the entrance on the Conickstraat 41.

Black sister's house

In 1547 the Black Sisters (Celle zusters) from Maria’s court (15) moved in. They gave the name to the existing chapel Sint Rochus (Saint Roche). Saint Roche is the patron for people suffering the plague. The black death was contagious and killed millions of people in Europe from 1347 to 1772. The high mortality rate also had its impact on the nuns until they were with so little nuns that they could fit into one house (black sisters house is pictured).

Initially all plague sufferers were nursed in a common shared house, but in the 16th century eight houses were added, so rich people could hire these houses. When the plague outbreaks ended these houses became available for poor and homeless people. Today the 48 houses are still available for old and poor people of Amersfoort. Until 1975 the residents got one bread loaf per week from the bakery. The bakery is on the left of the black sisters house.

Walk to the St Rochus chapel, take the exit on the Pothstraat and turn left.

23. Miracle of Amersfoort (Plantsoen Noord)

Miracle of Amersfoort

At the end of Poth street, turn right into Sints Anna straat, after a few meters the wall ends. Go around the wall into the park (Plantsoen Noord) and look for the sign in the wall of the ‘Miracle of Amersfoort’.

In 1444 a poor girl (Geertje Arends) was joining the nun. She had a Maria statue as a gift.  Because the clay statue was simple, she did not dare to give it to the nuns and threw in the river Eems.

On Christmas eve another girl (Grietje Ghysen) got three visions in which Maria urged her to retrieve the statue. She found the statue at this exact spot and gave it to a clergyman (Jan van Schoonhoven). Immediately miracles started to happen and Amersfoort became an pilgrimage city.

Walk back to the Annastraat, in front of you on the left you will see the second city wall and some defense turrets on the left. Walk to the Kamp.

24. Tweede stadsmuur -15th century second city wall (Achter de Kamp 256)

Second city wall

The second wall was build from 1380 to 1450 and tripled the living space. It was 2850 meters long and had eight gates.

After the economic boom, the city started to decline economically in the 18th century. The stones of the city walls were used as cheap building material for houses. This ended in 1844 when King William the first of Orange (Koning Willem 1) forbid further breakdown and demolition of city walls and historic building.

This area ‘Achter the Kamp’ (behind the corral) was used as a safe ground by cattle traders until the end of 17th century. Maybe because the houses in this neighborhood were relatively young, the north east of the second city wall (partly) survived the plundering of stones.

This part of the wall was restored to its original state between 1973 and 1978. It shows how the second city wall must have looked like in the 15th century. Walk back to the Kamp and return to the city gate of the first city wall (Kamperbinnenpoort).

25. LIJN49 city tour quiz (while walking on the Kamp)

Shop signs

House number 73 on Kamp number 73 has a gabble stone representing a black and a white dog. Gabble stones and wall plagues were used from the 16th to the 18th century to identify houses and shops.

Shops often used signs related to their business, but houses often had fantasy names or images. Four other houses have shop signs on this street. Look for a beehive with cherubs (‘De Gekroonde Byenkorf), a candle basket (‘De Keerskorf’), a measuring rod with a crown (D Gekroonde El) and a wind mill (‘De Snuif Molen’). Summarize the house numbers and provide the total as answer to the LIJN49 quiz.

Walk back to the Kamperbinnenpoort and turn right at the Weverssingel (weaver’s canal).

26. Theehuisje – Tea house in the canal (view from Westsingel)

Tea house

Facing the Kamperbinnenpoort turn right into the Weversingel (weavers canal). In the 16th and 17th century the economy of Amersfoort flourished due to the textile and tobacco industry.

Because the textile industry needed urine (to clean the wool), the canals were relatively clean, making the wall houses a popular domicile for merchants and politicians.

The thee house in the canal was first mentioned in 1735, when the city secretary Diederik Schagen bought the house, so it is probably built by the previous owner. Take the pedestrian bridge (called the Blauwebruggang) across the canal and turn right into the Muurhuizen again.

27. Muurhuizen – picture the middle ages (Muurhuizen 177 to 159)

Muurhuizen

Walking through the Muurhuizen, is like travelling back in time to the middle ages. The inner city of Amersfoort has over 400 national monuments and over 4000 municipal monuments and protected facades. For reference Amsterdam has over 8500, but the periphery of the 17th century inner city of Amsterdam is 13 kilometers, while the periphery of the 15th century inner city of Amersfoort is less than 3 kilometers.

The medieval city center of Amersfoort with its many squares, terraces, shops and pubs will ensure you have an enjoyable day in Amersfoort. The city walk will now show some of the social highlight. Walk towards Muurhuizen 119.

28. Sluijsje & Musiecqzaal – sluice & music hall (Muurhuizen 119)

Sluice & music hall

The first reference of ‘het Sluisje’ (sluice) dates back to 1492. Originally it was a wooden sluice to control the water from the outer canal to the harbor. The house on number 119 was built over the sluice when the stone bridge to the Havik (old harbor) was build in 1593.

It was a forge until the merchant Abraham Italianer bought it and used it as a tobacco warehouse in 1755.  By marriage it came into the procession of the Benjamin Cohen who turned it into a music hall in 1776. Above the door you will first notice the text ‘Sluisje’ and in the grey stone above the text ‘musiecqzaal’ (music hal). Turn left on the Havik (across the canal to continu the city tour.

29. Prattenburg (Muurhuizen 119)

Prattenburg

Prattenburg is one of the olderst buildings of the first city wall. Together with other fortified building, Bollenburg and Tinnenburg, it former the backbone of the 14th century city’s defence system. Prattenburg was the largest of the ‘burg’ (fortified) houses, it now hosts 42 luxury apartments.

One of the members of the local influential Zoudenbalch family (Evert) was major of the city of Utrecht and had purchases an estate called Prattenburg, giving him the title lord of Prattenburg. His son Hendrick became the city councelor of Amersfoort in 1568. The stair in the tower has a date notation of 1567, so it might have gotten the name Plattenburg, because the lord of Prattenburg lived in this stately house or simply because an owner was proud on it (prat is proud in Old Dutch). There are a few other estates in the Netherlands called Prattenburg for this reason.

On the Havik proceed to the Appelmarkt (apple market) on the left (where photo is taken). Take the lower right street of this triangular square towards the Saint Joris (Saint George) church.

30. Mandaatshuisje – pub ‘Onder de linde’ (Groenmarkt 9)

Mandate house

This building got its name because the Groen (green) and Appel (apple) market were added to mandate of the (Saint George) church in 1317. This implied that the police had no jurisdiction in this area. Not all clergymen saw the light out of devotion, some simply might needed to stay out of sight and out of the hands of the police.

This ‘kanunikken’ house was built in 1520 and rebuilt in 1530 after a fire. Kanunikken (canons) were clergy men living together like monks, but without the rules of poverty and purity. One of the worldly pleasures those men allowed themselves was beer, which they brewed themselves (known as abbey beer).

The oldest reference of ‘Onder de linde’ being a pub is from 1755. Drinking alcohol in public places (a pub) became accepted halfway the 17th century. Initially pubs were called coffee houses (café in Dutch). This might explain the euphemism coffee shop for a place where you can buy soft drugs today.

Facing the pub (as on the picture), go right on the Groenmarkt (passing the small houses build in the alcoves of the church). At the end of the Groenmarkt turn right into the Langestraat.

31. Fresco on the outside of Saint George church (before Langestraat 86)

Fresco 17th century

This wall painting was discovered in 1901, when the night watch (nachtwacht) house was broken down (because the police had taken over this responsibility). It is dated between 1600 and 1625

It represents Christ Carrying the Cross with Saint Veronica offering him a towel to wipe his (Jezus) face. By miracle the image of Jezus appeared on the cloth. The painting outside is a replica. The original is moved to the inside the church. Inside the church are 23 wall paintings dating back to 1500. The church is open from 11.00 to 17.00 from Tuesday until Saturday for public (see 33).

Continue southbound on the Langestraat.

32. In den Grooten Slock – the other oldest pub (Zevenhuizen 1a)

Other olders pub

‘In den Grooten Slock’ literally translates to ‘in the big sip’, but means something like ‘to have a glassful’ (of beer). Historians date this building to early 16th century without exact date. The distinct shape of the building of is already visible on a city map of 1588.

The owner claims this building is from 1522 and was a pub right from the start. As mentioned at ‘Onder de linde’, pubs started to appear after the 16th century. Until the owner publishes copies of the papers he claims to possess, the claim of ‘Onder de linde’ is historically the most likely and we refer to ‘In den Grooten Slock’ as the other oldest pub of Amersfoort.

Continue on Zevenhuizen street to the main city square called ‘de Hof’.

33. Sint Joris kerk – Saint George church (Hof 1)

Saint George church

The ‘Hof’ is short for bisschopshof (Bishop’s court). It was first mentioned in a certificate of 1196 as a place where the Bishop was allowed to collect taxes.

The construction of the tower started around 1200. The first part (hall) was completed in 1248. The second was probably added in 1350 and the third in 1534. As a result of this incremental expansion the church has three organs also.

The square got its central market function in the 15th  century when the city hall was built on it. There are many interesting buildings from the 16th, 17th and 18th century buildings on the square. Have a drink on one of the terraces (or at the ‘other oldest’ pub of Amersfoort) when you want to wait for the carillon to play (34).

34. Carillon above butter market (on the Hof in front of the church)

St George and Dragon

According to old belief the dragon hides in the 15th century fountain at the center of the square. Every hour the carillon plays above the old boterhal (butter market). The butter market looks similar to the fish market (7). It was built in 1608 as a cool and dry place to to sell butter on the central market square by local farmers.

Exactly on the hour the doors open and the green dragon appears, immediately purchased by Saint George on a white horse. With a few aimed blows of his sword Saint George defeats the Dragon and chases the dragon back to its hiding hole, beneath the fountain.

Walk clockwise around the square until you see Hof 9 (no 32) at the corner of Lavendelstraat.

35. Typical 17th century architecture trading house (Hof 9)

Trading house

This is one of the trading houses built in the typical 17th century style architecture. In the 16th and 17th century the economy of Amersfoort was booming due to the beer, textile and tobacco industry.  

Amersfoort successfully took business away from the nearby ‘Hanze steden’ (Hanseatic cities) Kampen, Zwolle, and Deventer. These cities were on the trading route to Germany. The large central market square played an important role in this agricultural trade competition. This also explained why the Kamp remained a corral/meadow for so long. Having a walled safe ground nearby the market was a unique selling point to lure cattle traders to Amersfoort.

Road of roads

Not all initiatives of the city panned out that well though. Amersfoort had a good waterway connection via the river Eem to Amsterdam, but the road connection to city of Utrecht could be better. That is why an ambitious infrastructure project was launched in 1650 to construct a 16 meters wide straight road to the Utrecht, called ‘the road of roads’ or ‘Wegh der weegen’ in Dutch.

The idea was to earn back the huge investment by selling land lot’s along the road. This first public private infrastructural project turned into a disaster. Not only because of the budget over runs, but also because of the disappointing land sales.

As shown on the artist impression, the city would hang criminals at the start of the road (left to rot until they were eaten by rats and crows). Would you buy a piece of land with that appalling smell in your back garden? Walk into the Lavendelstraat to the Havik.

36. Liefdehuis – caring home ‘the end of the world’ (seen from the Havik)

Old harbor (Havik)

The name Havik is a concatenation of two old Dutch words ‘haf’ and ‘vik’, meaning harbor (haven) and fold (vouw).

In the 18th century, the area in the bend of the canal was nicknamed the ‘end of the world’ because it was a caring home for the incurable ill. The formal name was the liefdehuis (caring home) of the Saint Joseph convent.  The wooden shed near the water (with vertical stripes), was the place where the nuns washed the (bed) clothes and linnen.

Walk to the bridge on the Havik (visible on the left of the picture).

37. The smallest house of Amersfoort (Havik 33)

Smallest house

Havik 35 was built in 1618 and now is the studio of a local painter called Norbertus whose work is a colorful cross over of naïef and modern art. 

Havik 33 (also from 1618)  is the narrowest house in Amersfoort. It is only 3 meters wide and it only has a front and back wall. It uses the walls of the adjoining houses to support the roof and first floor. Some (giuded) city tours claim the house on the Westsingel 27 is the smallest house of Amersfoort, but that house is 3.2 meters, so that is whopping twenty centimeters wider.

Proceed on the Havik to number 25.

38. Gallery 1664 (Havik 25)

Gallery 1664

The date in Roman numerals (MDCLXIIII) is the date when this beautiful 17th century bouse was built. It is nearly impossible to take a nice picture of it (because of parked cars), so this picture is from Google maps.

It hosts a small art gallery that changes exposition every three months. The art displayed ranges from classic to modern art. The gallery is open on Fridays from 14.00 to 17.00 and on Saturday from 12.00 to 17.00.

Proceed on the Havik to house number 11.

39. VOC Huizen – Dutch East Indies Houses (Havik 11 and 13)

VOC houses

Although the names of these houses refer to the VOC (Dutch East Indies Company) and the wind vane is a17th century ship, the only connection with the VOC is the fact that a former inhabitant was a co-writer of a book about an Amersfoort VOC-captain called Jan Cock Blomhof (his grave is in a public park, see 49).

Jan Cock Blomhof simply sailed from Brielle (the name of the house on Havik 11), close to Rotterdam to the Dutch trading post with Japan Decima (the name of the house on Havik 13), close to Nagasaki. That is how those houses got their names. The houses were constructed in the end of the 17th century.

Walk left over the bridge to Havik 1 (white building)

40. The little church & witches bridge (Havik 1)

Little church & witches bridge

The bridge is built in 1642, the house a little later.  It used to be a pub which was nicknamed the ‘kleine kerk’ (little church) because the singers of the four nearby churches used to drink a glass of beer during mass. The Dutch saying for to drink a glass of beer is ‘de keel smeren’ (‘wet our throat) or to wet your whistle in English.

The bridge is nicknames witches bridge. In the middle ages, woman accuses of witchcraft would be thrown in the water to see whether they would float (or drown since most could not swim). Because witches could fly on a broom, they were supposed to be lighter than water. 

Keep the house (and canal) on the left hand side, and walk via the Nieuweweg to ‘ Het Zand’ (41).

41. Sint Aegtenkapel – Saint Agatha chapel (Het Zand 37)

Saint Agatha chapel

This chapel is the only remainder of the Saint Agatha nunnery which was located at this area from 1399. The chapel itself was built in 1410. It is not remarkable for its beauty or architecture, but for a typical characteristic of Dutch society called gedoogbeleid (tolerance of policy).

After the betrayal of Renneberg (the regent of the northern provinces Groningen, Drente and Overijssel, who defected to the Spanish King in 1580) during the 80 year Dutch liberation war, all Catholic property was taken by the Dutch Republic and the ‘freedom of religion’ right was taken away from Catholics.

Despite being officially forbidden, Roman Catholics were allowed to continue their services as long as the church more or less looked like a house. Dutch tolerance policy, like allowing to buy soft drugs in coffee shops while drugs are officially prohibited, is not a modern day invention, it is part of our society for centuries.

Turn left on ‘Het Zand’ to continue the LIJN49 citywalk.

42. Het Spui – double sluice in the new harbor (Het Zand – Westsingel)

Old double sluice

This waterway was dug out around 1300 to improve the water flow (cleaner water). It took over the harbor function of the Havik.

The Spui means sluice. The double sluice was built in 1571.  The road on the right is called the Grote Spui (large sluice) and the one on the left Kleine Spui (little sluice). Because the sluice’s lock doors are made of wood, they have been replaced several times in the past centuries.

On Het Zand you have the option to take a shortcut and continue to the Westsingel (see 46 Flehite) or continue on the Grote Spui on the right of the canal (with 43 Volmolen).

43. Volmolen – wool fulling water mill (Plantsoen Noord 2)

Wool fulling mill

At the end of the Grote Spui, when you walk through the defense gate of the second city wall, you will see the Volmolen. Vollen in old Dutch means fulling.

Fulling, also known as tucking or walking, was a step in woolen cloth making which involves the cleansing of wool to make it thicker and stronger.

Initially it was done by tucking or walking wool in tubs, in 16th/17th century replaced by wind and water powered mills. This mill was built in 1645 and was powered by water streaming through the canal in front of the second city wall.

Continue on the Grote Spui and walk across the Eems at the pedestrian/bicycle bridge before the railway bridge (the bridge is a good spot to take a picture of the Koppelpoort). 

44. Koppelpoort – combined land and water defense gate (1380 – 1425)

Koppelpoort

The Koppelpoort was build between 1380 and 1425 as part of the second city wall. It is the only remaining combined land and water gate In the Netherlands.

The name is probably derived from the old Dutch word ‘coppel’, which means meadows and not from the Dutch word ‘Koppel’, which means to combine.

Three local streams feed one of the shortest rivers in the Netherlands (Eems only 19 kilometers long). The Eem was also called the Amer of which the name of Amersfoord is derived (ford at the river Amer). Take a left turn when across the bridge and walk back to Koppelpoort to continue on the Kleine Haag

Inside the koppelpoort

To raise and lower the gates, people simply walked in two gigantic wheels which (un)winded ropes around the connecting axis.

When the gate was lowered the wheel turned faster, because of the weight of the gates. Often causing people to fall over each other and break a limp. Because they used prisoners for this risky job, in Dutch a raddraaier also means trouble maker (thread-mill walter literally translates to wheel-turner).

On appointment, it is possible to walk the wheels of this thread-mill. Contact the tourist office (vvvamersfoort.nl/en) in advance.

45. Drieringen – beer brewery using medieval recipes (Kleine Spui 18)

Drie ringen beer brewery

The first reference of the beer brewing industry at Amersfoort is from 1323 when other Dutch cities complain about Amersfoort beer because they used hop instead of bog-myrtle. The right to grow and use bog-myrtle was given in to aristocracy. By using hop the beer brewers dodged taxes.

Amersfoort beer became fameous because of the use of hop and the relatively clean water of the Eem. Because of its success many breweries popped up around Amersfoort to piggy backed on the Amersfoort brand name. In 1528 the emperor Charles the fifth forbid the production of beer around Amersfoort to protect the reputation and quality of Amersfoort beer.

The Drieringen beer brewery builds on this heritage and offers beer tastings from Tuesday to Thursday from 15.00 to 20.00 and from Friday to Sunday from 13.00 to 19.30.  Ask to include some of the beers which are made using medieval recipes (e.g. the Vuurvogel and ‘Amersfoort blond’).

Continue on the Kleine Spui and turn right at the end into the street called Westsingel  (West canal).

46 Museum Flehite (Westsingel 50)

Museum Flehite

Museum Flehite is the historical museum of the City of Amersfoort and the surrounding region Eemland. Besides local history it has a rotating collection of art between 1850 and 1950.

The museum is located in three wall houses, which were build  in 1540. The name refers a certificate from 777 issued by Emperor Charles the Great in which he refers to the region of Eemland as Flehite.

The Museum is open from Tuesday until Sunday from 11.00 until 17.00 hour. On the right on the Westsingel 47 you will find the Mannenzaal (rest home for men).

47 Mannenzaal – men’s rest home (Westsingel 47)

Men's rest home

The chapel and the Mannenzaal (build in 1535) are part of the St Pieter & Bloksland Gasthuis.  Unlike the woman’s rest home, the Mannenhuis survived the renovation of 1907, making it the oldest rest and care home for men in the Netherlands.

The Mannenzaal is open for public on Monday’s from 12.00 to 16.30 from May to October. The interior illustrates the luxury level of 19th century elderly care: a table and chair and a box and a bed.

On the Westsingel, take the first street on the right called ‘Achter Davidshof’.

48 St Pieters Bloksland Gasthuis – caring home (Achter Davidshof 1)

Oldest care home

On this location the Sint Pieter (Saint Pete) caring home was built in 1393. Several buildings were added in the following centuries to accommodate the increased demand for care in Amersfoort.

In 1804 the St Pieter merged with the Bloksland and in 1907 most of the old buildings were replaced by this neo renaissance style building.

The oldest active care home of the Netherlands is in Delft (from 1252), but the Sint Pieters en Bloksland Gasthuis is the oldest rest home, still providing care on its original location.

Turn around and walk into the park (see 49).

49 Grave of the last chief of Dejima (former Achter Davidshof graveyard)

Old Graves

When the new City hall was build the Davidshof graveyard was removed, except for a few graves which were relocated to the park behind the city hall.

Remember Jan Cock Blomhoff the last chief of the little Dutch-Japanese trading isle, mentioned at the Dutch East Indies Company houses? He and his second wife are buried in the third grave from the left, close to the two big chairs in the park.

Walk back to road as indicated on the picture and take a right into the Stadhuisplein (city hall square).

50 Observant monastery & city inn (Stadhuisplein 6)

Observant monastery

In 1471 this location was given to a suborder of the the Fraciscan monks called the Friars Minor. They believed that a stricter compliance with the religious rules lead to spiritual visuals.

Because these monks had the highest recorded encounters with Maria and or Jezus, they were also cald the observant branche, which explains the name of this monastery.

After 1580 it was used as the city’s inn and had famous guests like tsar Peter the Great of Russia. It is now is an event and conference center, with meeting rooms facilitating up to 150 people.

Continue on the Stadhuisplein to the Hellestraat 49 to check whether you answered the LIJN49 quiz correctly (and receive your reward).

Congratulations, you successfully completed the self-guided LIJN49 city walk.

You burned enough calories to treat yourself on one of my homemade Dutch delicacies. For every hour you walked, you burned 4 kilo-calories per kilogram body weight. So when you walked for two hours and weight 65 kilograms, you burned 520 kcal. That is the equivalent of an hour exercising in the gym. Time to reward yourself and have a look at the lunchroom LIJN49 menu.

Gerrie (owner)
Stevige lunch - een driedubbele clubsandwhich
Torenhoge chocolade taart
Frisse punt gebak (monchou met vruchten)

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