Regarded as the Venice of the north, the Dutch capital of Amsterdam is made up of a series of 90 islands, which are connected by almost 1,200 bridges. Today, Amsterdam is a city of contrasts, with many people being attracted to this vibrant destination for its range of bars and night clubs. On the other hand, Amsterdam is home many renowned architectural structures, insightful museums and beautiful gardens.
The Royal Palace was originally built in the 17th century to serve as a town hall, but is now one of three palaces in the Netherlands to be under disposal of the monarchy. In the springtime, be sure to visit the Keukenhof Gardens, where seven million flower bulbs create a beautiful display of bold and bright colours.
Situated in the province of North Holland, the city of Haarlem is the little sister city to Dutch capital, Amsterdam. Located on the banks of the River Spaarne – 12 miles west of Amsterdam – it is the historical centre of the tulip bulb-growing district and has gained the nickname “Bloemenstad” (Flower City). Within the city’s historic centre, you will find many famous sights including the Grote Markt, which features an array of monumental buildings; the Cathedral of St Bavo; the 14th century Stadhuis; the 17th century Vleeshal (Meat Market); and the Teylers Museum, which is the oldest museum in the Netherlands.
The town of Hoorn is located in north-west Netherlands, on the banks of Lake Ijssel. It is most renowned for being the home of Willem Schouten, who discovered and subsequently named the southern tip of Argentina as “Cape Horn”. Hoorn has an extensive history, which extends back to 1300. The builder of the East Indian Empire, Jan Coen, was born in the town and the West Frisian Museum holds a number of 17th century exhibits brought from Indonesia. It is also home to two medieval churches and a number of buildings dating back to between the 16th and 17th centuries.
Located within the Rhine–Meuse–Scheldt river delta, and along the banks of the Maas River is one of the world’s major seaports, the city of Rotterdam. Directly linked with the Rhine River, Rotterdam is the centre of overseas trade for the Netherlands, and as such has earned itself the nickname of "Gateway to Europe". The city is also known for its riverside setting, lively cultural life and its maritime heritage. There is a varied architectural landscape, due to its near destruction during WW2, resulting a mix of renovated buildings and modern skyscrapers. The city houses the famous Boymans van Beuningen Museum and the Blijdorp Zoological Garden, which contains the world’s finest collection of birds of paradise.
The Dutch village of Kinderdijk is located in the province of South Holland, 15km east of Rotterdam. Situated at the confluence of the Lek and Noord rivers, it is home to the largest concentration of windmills in the Netherlands, which have helped place the village on the UNESCO World Heritage list. These 19 windmills were built around 1740 for the purpose of draining water from the polders.
Situated on the Waal River and close to the German border, lies the Dutch city of Nijmegen. Home to the Netherlands only Catholic University, Nijmegen is brought to life by the 13,000 students at study there. Nijmegen is also the oldest city in the country and so boasts a range of historic landmarks, remains and museums including the foundations of a Roman amphitheatre. Take a walk over the Waalbrug at sunset and wonder at the awe-inspiring views over the old town and the boats traversing the canal.
The Netherlands city of Maastricht is the nation’s southernmost city. It is thought to be the Netherlands’ oldest city and was once the site of a Roman settlement, before being held by the Dukes of Brabant after 1204. Situated on the banks of the Maas (Meuse) River, it is home to the St Pietersburg Caves, which extend 200 miles and consist of 20,000 underground passages. These passages were used from Roman times to the 19th century for the purpose of hiding peasants, cattle, refugees, and even art treasures throughout periods of war and conflict. Maastricht is also home to Basilica of St. Servatius, which was founded by Bishop Monulphus in the 6th century and is the oldest church in the Netherlands.
Antwerp is Belgium’s second largest city and its port, which sits on the banks of the river Scheldt, is one of the largest in Europe. There are many significant landmarks and sights to discover in Antwerp including the system of boulevards - which replaced the former city walls – and the 14th/15th century Gothic Cathedral of Notre Dame – the largest church in Belgium. Within this cathedral, you will be able to admire a series of paintings by Peter Paul Rubens, who spent most of his life in Antwerp. Other landmarks include the 16th century town hall and Gothic church of St Paul.
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