Before I begin, let me tell you the name of this Dutch town, ‘s-Hertogenbosch, does begin with an apostrophe.
But good news: it is commonly known as Den Bosch. What a relief!
And like Dutch people say, it’s also a very gezellig (cozy) town.
Its origin goes back to the 12 Century, when Henry I, Duke of Brabant founded the town.
And today it has a population of about 150,000 people, making it very easy to walk around and explore.
So what to do when visiting Den Bosch?
Den Bosch offers its visitors a great wealth of history and culture.
To begin, you can admire one of the most beautiful cathedrals in all of Holland. The majestic Saint Jan Cathedral was built 800 years ago in a Gothic-Brabantine style.
Inside the cathedral you can admire a huge pipe organ, beautiful detailed sculptures all over the building, and colorful stained glass.
For most visitors, the main attraction in Den Bosch is the river boat tour on the serene waters of the Binnendieze, the historic river that goes through the city.
The river has its origins in Belgium, where it is called Dommel, a stream of water that forms part of the short Dieze River. It changes names as soon as it crosses the walls of ‘s-Hertogenbosch.
During this relaxing ride, Den Bosch reveals its medieval beauty.
Its versatile channels also show how important they were for the trade of many goods such as beer, wool, and other products.
At points, you will even go through low tunnels, right below the main buildings of the town! And if you think this is claustrophobic, I won’t even tell you about the bat nests you can see inside. Oops!
Don’t forget to explore the colorful open markets in the main square and check all the action.
You can find clothes, flowers, shoes, produce, and all types of food. I love the fresh herring sandwiches with lots of onions, Dutch style of course. Yum!
At nights, there are many great bars and restaurants for all tastes. Some even offer live music.
You’ll see Dutch people love to go out a lot and have fun.
Interesting Facts About Den Bosch:
Perhaps the most famous person in Den Bosch is renaissance artist Hieronymus Bosch.
Contrary to other Flemish styles, his paintings were dark and frequently used evil figures to incite fear and to symbolize the sins of men (see photo).
King Philip II of Spain acquired many of Bosch’s paintings and therefore, many of his works are in display the Prado Museum in Madrid.
The town’s professional soccer team is FC Den Bosch, the first club of Dutch international player Ruud Van Nistelrooy.
Den Bosch also had a sad chapter in its recent history. During World War II the Nazis operated Kamp Vught, a concentration camp near Den Bosch were 30,000 prisoners (12,000 of them Jewish) were placed.
In the heart of The Hague, near the main square, you can find an extraordinary museum dedicated to the life and works of Holland’s most famous graphic artist: Maurits Cornelis Escher, better known as M.C. Escher.
Even if you have never heard of this artist, you don’t want to miss this opportunity when visiting The Hague.
M.C. Escher was a Dutch artist who lived from 1898 to 1972. He is mostly admired for his lithographs which feature optical illusions, imaginary worlds, eternal shapes, and figures that defy the impossible.
At first, you might be a little surprised as to why a museum devoted to a master who worked on impossible surreal forms could be located in what used to be an extravagant Royal Palace.
Once you enter the collection, you will discover why the Lange Voorhout Palace creates the perfect balance with the works of M.C. Escher.
After all, a modern structure could only add unwanted distractions, and a “classic” space offers a better arrangement to appreciate his art.
Briefly, the Lange Voorhout Palace’s historical importance shouldn’t go unnoticed. This palace was built in 1760 and used to be the home of Queen Emma, the great-grandmother of the actual Queen Beatrix of The Netherlands.
On the first floor of the Escher collection you will find an artistic synopsis of M.C. Escher’s early works on wood with beautifully detailed landscapes of Italy, where he resided from 1922 to 1935.
M.C. Escher loved Italy, but he had to leave due to the political situation leading up to WWII. He then moved to Switzerland but never liked it; mainly because of the weather.
So he then traveled to Granada, Spain and visited the Alhambra on several occasions. This place became influential for M.C. Escher because it was here where he developed the use of figures and sequences, which play an important part of his metamorphic creations.
Traveling again, he moved to Baarn, Holland in 1941 and at that point he completely abandoned the use of landscapes in his art. Instead, he relied solely on his creativity. And it is here where he started his creations of impossible figures and the world of optical illusions.
On the second floor of the museum, you can find his most creative lithographs such as Waterfall, Day and Night, and Drawing Hands among many others.
These were the works that established him as a master and brought him worldwide fame.
As you tour the museum take a look at the sparkling chandeliers by Dutch sculptor Hans Van Bentem, who in 2003 designed 15 original chandeliers to complement the Escher collection.
But the Escher Museum not only offers you the opportunity to admire his art, you can be part of the art! The third floor is a world of multimedia and optical illusion where you can enjoy an authentic Escher experience.
* MC Escher Museum photo by M. Minderhoud
If you are ever in downtown Eindhoven in the beautiful country of The Netherlands, you’ll be impressed when you see this giant colorful sculpture surrounded by office buildings.
Created in 2007 by artists Claes Oldenburg and Coosje Van Bruggen, this work of art represents what appears to be a bowling strike.