For the book Expeditie Achtertuin, journalists Bas van Oort and Dirk Wijnand de Jong traveled across the Netherlands. In Zeeuws-Vlaanderen you will find many beautiful villages, says Van Oort: “A requirement for a beautiful village is, for me, that time stands still there. It is not as changeable and fleeting as in the city. Zeeuws-Vlaanderen is separated from the rest of the Netherlands, so that tranquility is already there faster. Although some villages are touristy, especially those on the coast. This makes them lose their charm a bit. I was recently in Groede. I had never heard of it and was totally surprised because the center was still almost completely in a style, a perfect example of how it once was. ”
If he really has to choose the most beautiful village in the Netherlands, he goes for Gaastmeer, southwest of Sneek. The town, with approximately 290 inhabitants, has been a real water village since the Middle Ages, and for a long time not accessible by land. “Gaastmeer fits nicely with the province of Friesland: a lot of water with its canal that almost splits it in half, a nice wooden bridge over it. There is only one, a maximum of two: one cafe, one terrace, one B & B… You can call it quaint, if you like clichés. It is not without reason that painters already captured the same scene hundreds of years ago as I did this year with my camera. ”
Patrick van Zundert, co-owner / founder of the website mooistedorpjes.nl nominates the Groningen Bourtange as well. According to the most recent figures, the pentagonal fortified village, with 780 inhabitants, has moats and walls, but never had city rights. “It is wonderfully quiet and when you stand on the point of the bastion you have a beautiful view of the other fortifications,” says Van Zundert, who visited the place three years ago. Like so many villages, the square is the centerpiece, with its old clinkers and the fourteen lime trees as a characteristic picture. “Everything leads to the market square, in a pattern that has been laid out with almost military precision, nice that they could make it so thought out at the time. You get there via three red bridges, the last of which is a very nice drawbridge. ”
His advice: go very early in the morning or in the evening. “Then it is wonderfully quiet, as a village should be. With a little imagination you can still hear the trumpeting of the guards that were changed, because Bourtange has a military character; after all, it was founded at the time of the Dutch Revolt, from 1568.
Epen, South Limburg
The view over the hills and valleys, the Epener Volmolen, the half-timbered houses in the area, the many surrounding walking and cycling routes, the sheepfold with its Geuldal lambs and the rare zinc violet thanks to the zinc in the soil: the South Limburg Epen has plenty of surprising elements to visit. In fact, it was voted ‘most beautiful small village in the Netherlands of 2020’ by magazine Hollands Glorie, with Rik Felderhof as jury chairman. “A village where the houses lean back in time, where there is respect for tradition, where a sense of community and club life are of paramount importance. Where new residents have left the hustle and bustle of the city behind and experience a pleasant peace and tranquility here. But also fun, ”was part of Felderhof’s speech about the judgment.
Also nice to know: according to the most recent figures, Epen, with some 710 inhabitants, is one of the southernmost villages in the Netherlands.
Another Groningen copy: Niehove was crowned the most beautiful village in the Netherlands by Elsevier Weekblad in 2019. The editors praised the authentic character of the then 269 inhabitants village “with an almost untouched village face with a characteristic street pattern and special village silhouette”, but also its location on a mound in a beautiful landscape. It is, we quote, “as if ‘visual cosiness and security were invented there.”
The entire village has a protected townscape and was under the name Suxwort or Suxwerd the capital of the former Wadden island Humsterland. It almost seems as if time has stood still, including a church from the 13th century. Fun fact: in 1991 the village was the location for Children for Children 12.
Winsum in Groningen was voted the most beautiful village in the Netherlands by the ANWB last year (other contenders were Elsloo, Oisterwijk, Hollum and Urk). ‘A lively village with the amenities of a small town, lovely streets to wander through, two churches, two windmills and that beautiful Winsumerdiep, a blue vein through the buildings. A beautiful village‘, was the jury’s verdict.
According to the latest figures, the town, which has about 7400 inhabitants, has three so-called wierden, Winsum itself, Obergum and Bellingeweer. The famous Pieterpad also runs through the first two. Characteristic are the two octagonal scaffolding mills, of which De Vriendschap from 1801 is the oldest.
Egbert Oldengarm (68) has lived in Winsum for 37 years and is of course completely in agreement with the ANWB title. “The old center is well preserved, during a walk you will find relics that honor the history of its creation.” For example, there are two old churches, probably from the 13th century, and the remains of an old monastery can be seen in the Hoogstraat. Walking with the slight differences in height is always recommended, says Oldengarm, but a canoe is also a nice means of transport to explore the village, which is also easily accessible by public transport. Be sure to visit, he suggests: the beautiful terrace of restaurant De Gouden Karper, the center of the center, and the Marenland campsite, which also has a lovely terrace on the water and a large playground for children.
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