Easygoing, liberal Amsterdam is "different." Its citizens, bubbling along happily in their multiracial melting pot, are not so easily poured into the restrictive molds of trade and industry. More important, you can enjoy Amsterdam, its culture, history, and beauty, without stretching the limits of your credit cards. Few skyscrapers mar the clarity of the sky and the populace mostly walks or bikes from place to place. The historic center recalls Amsterdam's Golden Age as the command post of a vast trading network and colonial empire, when wealthy merchants constructed gabled residences along neatly laid-out canals.
Apeldoorn is known as the favourite country-seat of the royal family of the Netherlands called the palace Het Loo, which reflects the historical ties between the House of Orange-Nassau and the Netherlands. The palace was built in the 17th century for William III of Orange. Another attraction is the 'Apenheul' primate park housing over 35 species of monkeys, apes and lemurs. Apeldoorn is surrounded by beautiful woods which are very suitable for a nice walk or cycle tour. For the youngsters there's the Julianatoren attraction park.
Surnamed the "Garden City on the Rhine," Arnhem is the capital city of the province of Gelderland in east Netherlands. The main attraction is Burgers' Zoo - the biggest and most-visited zoo in the Netherlands, featuring an underwater walkthrough, desert, mangrove, rainforest, etc. Don't miss the National Heritage Museum - an open air museum and park with antique houses, farms, and factories from different parts of the Netherlands. Nearby Arnhem, in Grote Hartensteyn, you can visit the Airborne Museum or medieval Doorwerth Castle.
Situated halfway between Rotterdam and Antwerp, Breda is a quiet student town. The city centre has many beautiful old buildings. The major landmark is the tower of the Grote or Onze Lieve Vrouwe Kerk (the Church of Our Lady) dominating the town's skyline. Breda has an impressive historic heritage with monuments, references and memorials. The Dutch Royal Military Academy, Koninklijke Militaire Academie, is located here. The city has a lively nightlife offering many restaurants, bars and pubs with a warm atmosphere.
Deventer is a dynamic town, with a historic heritage and surrounded by a unique landscape. Take a stroll through the picturesque streets and admire the Waag (Weighing-house) on the edge of the Brink square, built in 1550. Inside the Waag, the Deventer City Museum is housed. Other landmarks are the Lebuïnuskerk (St. Lebuin's Church) in Gothic style, with remarkable ceiling paintings and a beautiful organ, the Speelgoedmuseum (Toy Museum) behind the Waag, the medieval Bergkerk (Mountain Church).
Eindhoven is one the largest cities in Netherlands, offering wide areas of shopping, nightlife and performing arts. The Van Abbemuseum is one of the leading museums for modern and contemporary art, housing works of Picasso, Chagall, Kandinsky, Mondriaan and Appel. Experience the atmosphere of the 19th century during a tour at the first and oldest Philips factory building. At the Artificial Light in Art Centre you can admire a unique collection of paintings and sculptures with artificial light as the central theme.
Haarlem is a 900-year-old town located on the river Spaarne, about 20 km west of Amsterdam and near the coastal dunes. Take a stroll through the historic city center and admire the beautiful medieval houses, the 13th-century city hall and the oldest museum of the Netherlands, the Teylers Museum. Nicknamed Bloemenstad' (flower city), Haarlem has been the historical center of the tulip bulb-growing district for centuries. This is a nice stop on your way to Zandvoort, the beach resort closest to Amsterdam.
Located on the Old Rhine, close to the cities of Amsterdam, Rotterdam and Haarlem, Leiden is a lively university town. Albert Einstein spent some time at Leiden University, the oldest Dutch university, during his early to middle career. Main attractions are the Museum of Antiquities with an excellent collection of artifacts from Egypt, Greece and Rome, the Hortus Botanicus one of the oldest botanical gardens in the world, planted in 1578. A visit to Leiden is not complete without a walk to the Burcht citadel.
Located in an are of spectacular beauty, Lelystad is famous for the nature park Oostvaardersplassen, which spontaneously grew when the polder of South Flevoland was drained. It has several other tourist attractions like: the replica of the 17th-century ship Batavia at the Batavia Shipyard, Batavia Stad outlet shopping center, Hanzestad Compagnie - a fleet of historical sailing ships, Nature Park Lelystad, National Aviation Theme Park Aviodrome. At the coast there are several marinas where you can rent a sailing yacht.
Maastricht was the first settlement in the Netherlands dating back from the Celtic period. Nowadays, it is a bustling town with shops which attract customers from Belgium and Germany, drawing numerous tourists and businessmen. Maastricht has a historic heritage, well worth visiting, consisting in: the Helpoort and the city wall, Vrijthof square, with the Vrijthoftheatre (Theater aan het Vrijthof), the Saint Servatius basilica (Sint-Servaasbasiliek) and the Saint Johns church (Sint-Janskerk).
Dating back from the 1st century BC, when the Romans built a military camp here, Nijmegen is the oldest city in the Netherlands. Past and present blend harmoniously in this city, historic buildings are interspersed with fine examples of modern architecture. Its main sight, the largely demolished Valkhof, is medieval. The Carolingian Chapel was built after Charlemagne's Palatine Chapel in Aachen (Germany) as a symbol of the importance of this city as one of the principal seats of the administration of the Holy Roman Empire. Other sites are the weighing house and St. Stephen's church.
Located only 5 km west of Arnhem, Oosterbeek is a small village where you can taste the Dutch country life, and enjoy its natural beauty. The oldest part of the village of Oosterbeek is the Benedendorp (Lower Village), on the northern bank of the Rhine. Parts of the church now known as the Hervormde Kerk (Reformed Church) date back to the second half of the 10th century. In the 19th century several mansions were built on the higher ground, leading to the Bovendorp (Upper Village).
Europe's largest and busiest port, Rotterdam is also the most modern city in The Netherlands. The symbol of the city is the Euromast Space Tower (605ft/184m) from which you have an excellent view over the city. One of Rotterdam's main attractions is Diergaarde Blijdorp, the extensive zoo that includes the impressive Oceanium, where visitors can walk through the huge shark tunnel surrounded by sharks and giant tortoises. Another worth visiting place is the Boymans-van-Beuningen Museum displaying a beautiful collection of painting, sculpture and design.
The Hague is the largest Dutch city on the North Sea, the seat of the government and also the place where Queen Beatrix lives. The city center is pretty, with nice government buildings, stately mansions, good museums (Mauritshuis, Panorama Mesdag) and a nice square. It is culturally diverse, with many foreign pubs, shops and cultural events. The Hague comprises two distinct beach towns. The main beach resort Scheveningen, in the northwestern part of the city, is a popular destination for tourists. Kijkduin, in the southwest, is the other beach resort.
Famous for its impressive canal structure, Utrecht is the fourth largest city of the Netherlands. The inner city has retained its Medieval structure. Its skyline is dominated by the Dom Tower of Utrecht, belonging to the former cathedral. One of Utrecht's landmarks of modern architecture is the 1924 Rietveld Schröder House, listed on UNESCO's world heritage sites. The city also offers an active cultural life with several theatres, the classical music centre Vredenburg, several cinemas and many art galleries.
Zutphen is a small, but very modern city. The old centre with brick houses from the 16th-17th centuries survived the war almost entirely. The main sight is the Grote Kerk, or St Walburgis, which dates from the 12th century and contains monuments of the former counts of Zutphen and a fine modern monument to the Van Heeckeren family. A unique attraction of the city is Librije, a beautifully preserved 16th century library of manuscripts on chain, built-on the the Walburg Church. Another eye-catching defense is the Berkel Ruin.
Zwolle is one of the most picturesque Dutch cites. The city center is situated within the ruins of the city walls, and is surrounded by the Stads-Gracht, which is a man-made canal. The Sassenport was the main door of the city wall. There are several historic monuments in Zwolle that worth a visit: the Grote of Sint Michaëlskerk, the Roman Catholic Our Lady Ascension basilic (1399). The church tower, called Peperbus, is one of the tallest church towers in the Netherlands. Take the time to enjoy also a walk or horse riding around the Wijde Aa lake.
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