Afternoon in Delft, Netherlands

There are so many cities in the Netherlands which I have been wanting to visit…. picture-perfect Delft was one of them, so I’m very happy I was finally able to visit. on Sunday. After just an hour, it’s the type of place which give you the, “I could live here” feeling. Like s’-Hertogenbosch, I think it’s quite a small old city and easy to walk and/or bike around. I say it’s picture-perfect as because literally around every corner, in every alley, in every small street, there are a ton of different picture opportunities. With its many facades, buildings, cobbled streets, and charming cafes and restaurants you can spend hours just taking photos – thankfully I didn’t but I probably could. I imagine this city would be beautifully decorated around Christmas and when it is coated with snow – not that snow happens often here.

LOCATION

Delft is conveniently located only an hour away from Amsterdam, close to Rotterdam and a tram ride from The Hague. So if you live in the Netherlands or you are here as a tourist visiting Amsterdam, Delft should be on your next trip itinerary as well. I highly recommend coming by train and not car – reason being parking is very expensive! A flat rate of €29,50 obviously discourages parking along Delft canals as it is charged irrespective of length of stay. A garage may be cheaper …. and I heard there is a garage with a very nice mural along the wall – cannot find it yet but when I do I’ll update. It might be the Zuidpoort Garage.

This visit, I was in Rotterdam for the weekend, so we made the journey to Delft by way of a rented bike. The trip was about 1 hour each way so was good for my legs. If you’re in NL or been here, you know the yellow & blue bikes which are a well-known sight in every city. If not, OV-Fiets is the shared bike system of the Netherlands and it is very popular for the last journey from the train station to people’s end destination like work or visiting a city.  I think they are Coca Cola bikes in Ireland and Blue Bikes in Boston.  While not as comfortable as my bike at home, it was a perfect way to get here and around Rotterdam for the weekend. It did, however, take me a few minutes to get used to the bike – I’ve not had a bike with back pedal breaks since I was probably five 🙂 so stopping and start off at red lights were a bit of a challenge and probably quite humorous for those in their cars.

Me and my OV-Fiets

FAMOUS CHURCHES IN DELFT

I believe I saw [and read?} that there are 10 churches in Oude Delft, but the two most popular and most photographed are the OUDE & NIEWE.

OUDE KERK

The Oude Kerk (Old Church), nicknamed Oude Jan (“Old John”), is a Gothic Protestant church in the old city center of Delft. Its most recognizable feature is a 75-meter-high brick tower that leans about two meters from the vertical. The Oude Kerk was founded as St. Bartholomew’s Church in the year 1246, on the site of previous churches dating back up to two centuries earlier. The layout followed that of a traditional basilica, with a nave flanked by two smaller aisles.

The church possesses three pipe organs, from the years 1857 (main organ), 1873 (north aisle) and 1770 (choir). The most massive bell in the tower, cast in 1570 and called Trinitasklok or Bourdon, weighs nearly nine tonnes, and because of its strong and potentially damaging vibrations, is rung only on such special occasions as the burial of a Dutch royal family member in the nearby New Church. The massive bell is also sounded during disasters, when local air-raid sirens are sounded. This, however, does not happen during the siren’s monthly, country-wide test, which happens every first Monday of the month.

“(The above description is based on Wikipedia under Creative Common License)”

NIEUWE KERK

During the Eighty Year’s War, in which the Dutch fought against their Spanish occupiers, the leader of the Dutch revolt, William of Orange (or William the Silent) made Delft the base for the operations. After the war, Deflt became, for a time, the capital of the newly liberated Netherlands.

Nieuwe Kerk is a landmark Protestant church in Delft. It is located on Delft Market Square (Markt), opposite to the City Hall (Dutch: Stadhuis). In 1584, William the Silent was entombed here in a mausoleum designed by Hendrick and Pieter de Keyser. Since then members of the House of Orange-Nassau have been entombed in the royal crypt. The latest are Queen Juliana and her husband Prince Bernhard in 2004. The private royal family crypt is not open to the public. The church tower is the second highest in the Netherlands, after the Domtoren in Utrecht. If you are fit enough, you can buy a token then climb 376 steps (85 meters) to the top of the tower.

The New Church is the burial place of the princes of Orange. It is remarkable for its fine tower and chime of bells, and contains the splendid allegorical monument of William the Silent and the tomb of Hugo Grotius. The tower was built 1396-1496 by Jacob van der Borch. The monument for Hugo de Groot was made in 1781. The mechanical clock has 18 bells by Francois Hemony from 1659 and 30 modern bells. In the church tower there is a bell from 1662 by Francois Hemony with a diameter of 104 centimeters. In the tower there are also bells no longer in use, including 13 from 1659 by Francois Hemony, 3 from 1678 by Pieter Hemony, 3 from 1750 from Joris de Mery, and 1 from Gillett and Johnston from 1929.

“(The above description is based on Wikipedia under Creative Common License)”

Located next to the Nieuwe Kerk, you’ll find “Het blauwe hart” (Blue Heart of Delft).  It represents the heart of the city. The technical construction was by the TU Delft. And, of course, the blue represents the iconic Delft Blue.  Installed in 1998, the heart is made of glass and stainless and lighted after dark, which I’m sure would be very pretty to see.

 

Apart from the Technical University Delft, which the campus was pretty impressive, Delft is probably best known for the blue and white pottery that bears its name. It’s super famous – you know the white stuff with the beautiful shade of blue painted in different patterns all over it. I love it and I love how something so beautiful represents not only Delft but the Dutch as well… BUT I don’t want to fill my house up with it 🙂 My mom told me, after seeing my photos, her Grandmother in San Francisco had a huge collection of Delft pottery, but her mother, didn’t find it interesting so she donated it all to a local charity shop. DOH!

Delft is also the home of Vermeer {Girl with the Pearl Earring} and the place where William of Orange was shot and as I recently learned the burial place for the Royal family.

GROTE MARKT & STADHUIS

As with most Dutch cities, the Grote Markt, is a grand square at the core of the city’s Old Town Located in the middle of the old city centre of Delft, the large market square is a great starting point for wandering around in this picturesque town. The Delft architectural Stadhuis (City Hall) and the Neiwe Kerk, two major landmarks, placed at opposing ends are eye-catchers. There are also a lot of cafes and restaurant located on the Markt square where you can enjoy a beverage or full meal and tons of tourist shops.

TAKE A WALK AROUND THE CITY

Delft is one of those places that is just nice to visit. You don’t need feel rushed or like you HAVE to do anything specific. You can download a FREE city map here. Of course, you can always buy the walking tour map at the tourist office or even book a walking tour with a guide (for a fee). I often pop into the VVV when visiting a new city – they have loads of information (often free) about the city to get you started on your way). Or you can follow one of five expert-designed self-guided walking tours to explore Delft on foot at your own pace at GPSmyCity.com. You can also create your own self-guided walk to visit the city attractions which interest you the most.

Due to it being Sunday during Covid-19 Crisis – 80% of the city was closed so we didn’t visit the top tourist posts like Royal Delft Factory, Oude en Nieuwe Kerk of Delft, Vermeer Centrum Delft, Rondvaart Delft – a boat tour around the city or even sit on a terrace in the sun and drink a beer, but we still had a great time and in the future can come back and do some of the things we both enjoy.

We found a spot next to a canal to eat ours salads – there we saw SUPers, families on their rented boats, canoes and a mama duck with 9 babies!!

Oh yeah, nearly forgot… as we were walking we came across a fish stand and shared a portion of Kibbling along the canal. As you can see from the photo, it’s a Dutch snack consisting of battered chunks of fish, commonly served with a mayonnaise-based garlic sauce or tartar sauce. The building where they sell the fish is called Visbanken – the location has historically significant in that it used to be the place that fish was traded starting in 1342.

MUSEUMS TO VISITS

If visiting museums is your thing – here are some of the larger ones you can visit. As a resident of the Netherlands, I have a Museumkaart so visiting these museums below are free, aspart from the last two – you get a discount. But without the card, the admission is not as high as some of the top museums in Amsterdam.

Museum Prinshof Delft

Museum Prinsenhof Delft is one of the Top 100 UNESCO monuments in the Netherlands. The museum illustrates the story of William of Orange and his role in the formation of the Dutch Republic. It is situated at the place where he was killed. The museum exhibits paintings, historical artefacts, prints and pamphlets. But the building itself is also important. In addition, the museum covers the history of Delftware.

Museum Paul Tétar Van Elven

The Paul Tétar van Elven museum Is housed in a 16th century canal house. The house was inhabited by the Dutch painter, collector and teacher Paul Tetar van Elven in the period from 1864 to 1894. The property still has the well-preserved 19th century authentic interior, including Delft pottery, oriental porcelain and antique furniture. The museum exhibits part of the Paul Tétar van Elven collection, including many portraits, history paintings and copies of old masters.

Science Centre Delft

Science Centre Delft shows what students and researchers from the Technical University of Delft do on a daily basis, and on which subjects their research focuses. The museum displays research equipment and graduation projects. The visitor can take part in the research in the open workshops. The displayed projects are regularly changed to show what current research focuses on.

TU Delft Botanical Garden

The TU Delft Botanical Garden is home to approximately seven thousand plant species and includes an arboretum, a central garden, a herb garden and greenhouses. The greenhouses house some two thousand species of plants. In the botanical garden are typical technical crops from Delft. Among others, there are plants for oil or dye, or from which the wood, fibres or bark can be used.

Vermeer Centrum Delft

Vermeer Centrum Delft is dedicated to the life of the Dutch painter Johannes Vermeer (1632-1675). His famous painting, Girl with a Pearl Earring is now visible in the Mauritshuis in The Hague. The museum covers his work and his relationship to Delft. The permanent exhibition illustrates how Johannes Vermeer worked in his studio. In addition, the stories are told of the 37 paintings that the Vermeer Centrum Delft owns. NOTE: Museumkaart holders receive a €2 discount off admission and kids under 12 are free

Royal Delft Museum

Did you know that the iconic Delftware is actually painted with black? While baking in the oven, the black changes to the familiar, intense blue color. Delft Blue is still made by hand in a traditional way at Royal Delft. Here you can see painters and craftsmen at work in the factory. In the museum you can see various special collections such as the Royal Orange Ceramics and our inner garden is a hidden gem of Delft with a brasserie. Keep in mind that on Sunday there are NO employees are working. So if you want to see the employees work on the Delft porcelain, then visit this factory on other days. NOTE: Museumkaart holders receieve a €3 discount off admission.

Something extras special about this museum is that they have workshops – which must be pre-booked. For my next trip back to Delft, I’m absolutely visiting, taking a 90 minute behind the scenes tour and doing a self-painting tile workshop. While we didn’t but many tourists who don’t care about the real stuff, take home replica items found it the many stores in the old town. 

After several hours, we got back on our bikes and headed back to Rotterdam which was just a bit over an hour by way of the TU Delft campus -, Delfgauw and lovely rural areas including a windmill (I love them – and they never get old) and then past the Rotterdam Airport and into the city.

My only one thing was that I totally forgot to get a fridge magnet from Delft! I normally buy a nice, magnet keepsake from my ventures to take home and display on my fridge. Well, thankfully I live in the Netherlands so I can go back sooner than later.

A friend told me about the many hidden hofje’s – which if you click on this map, put out by TU Delft, you can see them plotted and the history – sorry it’s in Dutch but you can see the photos. During my next trip, I’ll stop in them all and will update this post with the various hofje’s.

Tell me, have you been to Delft? What am I missing? Are there any hidden gems or off-the-beaten track things worth seeing?