Category Archives for "Netherlands"

Must see locations, events and places to travel and enjoy in Netherlands.

Rijksmuseijm – Amsterdam, Netherlands

An Ode to Rembrandt and the Dutch Golden Age

This is the Netherlands’ greatest museum and, for lovers of the 17th-century Old Dutch master Rembrandt van Rijn (1606—1669), guardian of the country’s finest works. If you want to cut to the chase through more than 150 rooms full of beauties, head for Rembrandt’s magnificent The Night Watch (1642) on the upper floor (Room 224).

The enormous king-size canvas is the artist’s best-known painting, one of the world’s most famous, and has a grand hall all to itself. It is the piv­otal point around which this turreted neo-Gothic museum was designed in 1885 by P. J. H. Cuypers.

It houses the largest and finest collection of Dutch paintings anywhere in the world. Adjoining rooms showcase Rembrandt’s sensitive Jewish Bride (1662) and Self-Portrait as the Apostle Paul (1661); there are twenty- one of his works in all. Other rooms on the top floor are no less impressive, with works by Jan Vermeer, Frans Hals, and Jacob van Ruisdale, among many others.

Dating from a decree in 1808 by Louis Bonaparte, brother of Napoleon, the astonishing collection of the 17th-century Dutch golden age has long been the uncontested drawing card of “The Rijks.” But it is strong in other areas as well—it has an impressive collection of delftware, and its extensive Asian art col­lection (with some 100 Buddhas from all over the East) gets the attention it merits thanks to a 1996 face-lift of the South Wing.

North Sea Jazz Festival – The Hague, Netherlands

A Veritable Jazz Woodstock

The wow-power of the prestigious sixteen-day Montreux Jazz Festival in Switzerland is condensed here into a three-day weekend whose smorgas­bord of sixteen round-the-clock concert venues and a legion of world-class artists packs the same punch.

For more than twenty-five years, the North Sea Jazz Festival has been the largest annual gathering of jazz in Europe, spanning the spectrum of blues, fusion, gospel, and soul. Proud of its slogan, “Cross­roads of the World,” more than 1,200 musicians from all over the globe love this festival, and it shows.

Legendary names and nascent and prom­ising talents perform side by side: the first year the festival featured jazz legends like Sarah Vaughan, Count Basie, and Stan Getz. It has since served as the breaking ground for the introduction of new talent to European audiences, such as a young, barely known Shirley Horn.

Recent years have seen the addition of “Heats The Hague,” a free open-air jazz festival in the center of The Hague, and a Midsummer Jazz Gala, both on the eve of the festival.

Manoir Inter Scaldes – Kruiningen, Netherlands

The Very Embodiment of Country-Inn Gezellig

Inter Scaldes is its own destination. People find their way from all parts to the dramatic thatched-roof farmhouse cum inn-restaurant and English-style garden created by a local husband-and-wife team.

They come for the oysters and mussels, some of Europe’s tastiest, and for conversation-stopping preparations of lobster and langoustine. The showcase lamb is raised down the road, grazing on seaside pastures beyond the dikes.

Travelers to Amsterdam who leave the Netherlands without experiencing a foray into the Low Country for a glimpse of the polder farms reclaimed from wetlands, and countless lakes, connected islands, and estuaries and for a taste of culinary offerings from the North Sea are missing out on a veritable Dutch treat.

Van Gogh Museum – Amsterdam, Netherlands

Shrine to a 19th-Century Native Son

A major refurbishment of the main building of the van Gogh Museum and a dramatic new annex designed by Japanese architect Kisho Kurokawa unveiled in June 1999 confirmed the Netherlands’—and the world’s— steadfast Vincent worship.

Vincent van Gogh (1853—1890) was the 19th century’s most important Dutch artist, and what an outstanding home his 200 paintings, 500 drawings, and 700 letters now have. Visitors and architects call the new annex, clad in gray stone and titanium steel, both striking and welcoming.

In the light-filled space of the annex’s fusion of Japanese and European sensibilities, all of van Gogh’s paintings in the collection can now be displayed for the first time, from his earli­est work, done in 1881 in the Netherlands, to those done just days before his suicide in France at the age of thirty-seven.

“I should like to do portraits which will appear as reve­lations to people in a hundred years’ time,” the prolific artist wrote to his sister Wil just before his death.

You may agree with some of the Amster­dammers who find the architecture jarring, but after you’ve seen the vibrant colors and daz­zling landscapes of this visionary genius, all you’ll remember is the art. You may not have known their names, but you’ll recognize the images: The Potato Eaters, Sunflowers, and Wheatfield with Crows.

Van Gogh’s anguished life is easily detectable, its abrupt end readily foreseeable in some of his more turbulent paintings. Works by dozens of artists who influenced him, or whom van Gogh in­fluenced in turn, are also on display.

Kroller-Muller Museum – Apeldoorn, Netherlands

At the Heart of a Nature Reserve, a Magnificent Obsession

Jump on one of the free white bicycles left about for public use, and make your way to the center of the vast De Hoge Veluwe nature and game reserve, Holland’s largest national park, to see the remarkable art collection housed in the Kroller-Muller Museum.

Both park and art collection were left to the Dutch state in 1938 by industrialist Anton Kroller (the 13,000 acres of woodland served as his pri­vate hunting grounds), whose wife, Helene, spent her life and fortune amassing 278 works by Vincent van Gogh.

These are the highlights of the museum’s display but by no means all there is to see. Together with the collection in Amsterdam’s newly refurbished van Gogh Museum, this constitutes nearly the entire oeuvre of the 19th-century Dutch artist, includ­ing one of the Sunflowers, The Bridge at Arles, and L’Arlesienne.

Kroller-Muller went on to collect work by other major artists, predominantly of the 19th and 20th centuries: Courbet, Seurat, Picasso, and Mondrian, to name a few. Surrounding the museum is one of Europe’s largest outdoor sculpture gardens, 47 acres studded with works by 20th-century sculptors such as Henry Moore, Richard Serra, and Claes Oldenburg.

If there are enough hours in the day, trade your white bike in for your car and drive the few miles to visit nearby Het Loo, the recently restored royal palace and gar­dens. It was built in the late 17th century by the prince and princess of Orange, who would thereafter go on to take over the throne of England as William and Mary.

A small-scale Versailles, the palace houses a recently organized museum celebrating the history of the House of Orange, but the formal Baroque gardens are the jewel in this royal crown.

Delft – Netherlands

Home of the Royal House of Orange

Step into this 17th-century Dutch town whose quaint tree-lined canals and graceful humpbacked bridges were captured so perfectly in the canvases of Jan Vermeer and Pieter de Hoogh. Perhaps more so than in any other city in the country, the 16th and 17th centuries are preserved in this town whose name is known worldwide for its characteristic blue-and-white china.

Still made and hand-painted here and widely available, delftware’s timeless pat­terns and color scheme have survived the passage of centuries and collectors’ trends. When the sea of day-trippers heads back to Amsterdam or The Hague, the town returns to the townspeople and the serenity that so inspired Vermeer settles back in.

Located on the attractive market square is the 14th-century Gothic Nieuwe Kerk (New Church), where William I, the Silent (1533-1584), founder of the royal House of Orange and a kind of Dutch George Washington, lies in a magnificent marble and ala­baster mausoleum surrounded by twenty-two columns; most monarchs since him have been brought here for burial as well.

A marvelous panoramic view from the church tower provides a glimpse of The Hague on a clear day. The nearby “Old Church,” founded around 1200, is the resting place of Vermeer. A stroll along the tree-lined Oude Delft, possibly the first city canal (and certainly the prettiest) any­where in the Netherlands, brings you to the town’s most famous site: the Prinsenhof, a former 15th-century convent-turned-royal residence where William lived and was assas­sinated in 1584 (the bullet hole is still visible).

Today it houses a museum dedicated to the history of the Dutch Republic. In the former storerooms of the Prinsenhof, with an entrance from a small alleyway off theOude Delft canal, is a quiet and sedate little restaurant, De Prinsenkelder, promising the end to a perfect day in the town that so under­standably inspired some of Holland’s greatest artists.

Het Mauritshuis – The Hague, Netherlands

A Small Feast of a Collection from the Golden Age

Vermeer’s famous View of Delft moved the French writer Marcel Proust to call it the most beautiful painting in the world. Together with other gems such as Rembrandt’s graphical Anatomy Lesson of Dr. Nicolaes Tulp (the first canvas to bring him recognition), it forms the core of a small but splendid collection from the great 17th-century Dutch masters.

Long acknowledged as one of the world’s finest small museums, the Mauritshuis occupies the beautiful, Palladian-inspired mansion of Maurits van Nassau-Siegen, 17th- century Dutch governor-general of Brazil.

Inside, it’s almost like viewing a private collec­tion, while outside a small, tree-shaded pond is crisscrossed by resident swans. Tour groups are uncommon, and most art lovers linger on the upper floor, where other works by Vermeer (including his celebrated Girl with a Pearl Earring), Rembrandt, and Jan Steen can be found.

As the seat of government for the Netherlands, home to Queen Beatrix and the International Court of Justice, The Hague is a powerful and dignified city. Some of its regal past can easily be recaptured at high tea in the magnificent lounge of the city’s historical Hotel des Indes, built in 1856 for the private adviser to King William III.

Formerly a lavish baronial town house, it was here that Mata Hari practiced her subtle subterfuge while the hotel was used as Allied headquarters during the dark days of WW I.

European Fine Art Fair – Maastricht, Netherlands

Holland’s Mecca for the Good Life

The museum-quality offerings of the most prestigious art market on the international calendar make their much-awaited appearance at Maastricht’s annual European Fine Art Fair (TEFAF). Poor Maastricht barely has time to catch its breath after its late-winter Car­nival celebration (one of the most famous in Europe) with parades of elaborate floats, par­ties, and fancy dress, when more than 150 art and antiques dealers from a dozen countries arrive to show thousands of paintings and works of art to art lovers, collectors, and cura­tors.

Major museums from around the world are regularly represented among the expert buyers at the fair, assured by the crackerjack team of international experts who examine all objects for authenticity, quality, and condi­tion.

The ancient Roman town of Maastricht is the perfect host city because of its charm, sophistication, high-end shopping, dining, and newfound bon vivant ambience. Here at Holland’s southernmost point, wedged in between Belgium and Germany, languages, customs, and trends flow freely across bor­ders.

Worldly Maastricht and its lively cafes and restaurants brim with high-rolling fair-goers who come to town every March to pick up an extra Rembrandt etching or add to their collection of Gobelin tapestries.

Ideally located in the traffic-free historical center on the city’s most beautiful tree-shaded square is the Hotel Derlon. Not only is this hotel of choice the next-door neighbor to the beloved Onze Lieve Vrouwebasiliek (or Basilica of Our Lady, a great pilgrimage church even today), but it boasts the ruins of a Roman forum in its cellar.

Alternatively, stay outside the city at one of Holland’s most luxurious country hotels, Chateau St. Gerlach, located in the south­ eastern hill-and-dale region of Limburg, in the lovely Geuldal River Valley.

Local hotelier and restaurateur Camille Oostwegel took on a her­culean restoration project with this 1,000-acre estate. The exceptional 97-room chateau has been reborn with handloomed Venetian fabrics and opulent silks; Provengal, Spanish, and Italian antiques; a contemporary glass winter garden; and restored Baroque Austrian fres­coes in the estate’s church that are among the country’s most important.

Surrounded by Baroque gardens that blend into a natural pre­serve grazed by Scottish Highland cattle and Koniks horses, the quiet beauty of the setting may make the trip into nearby Maastricht less of a temptation.