Bergen op Zoom, which is derived from two words “Bergen” meaning hills or mountains in Dutch and “Zoom” which means border of defensive wall of a castle, is one of oldest city of The Netherlands. It is located in the North Brabant region and is strategically accessible from various major cities, such as Rotterdam, Zeeland, and Middleburg in The Netherlands, as well as Antwerpen in Belgium. Its’ history dated back 800 years ago and can still be seen in its old squares, cobbled stone streets, and historical architectures. Out of our curiosity about this city, we made a one day visit to see what this place has to offer. Indeed, it was a unique place that plays role during the 80 years war between The Netherlands and Spain. Bergen op Zoom supported the Dutch Republic, which led way to having Protestant population in the city and pushing the Catholics along the countryside. Later on the 2nd half of 18th century, the Catholics populated again the city and enjoyed religious freedom during 1795-1814. Visiting this city good for a one day visit or a weekend stay. In this blog, I will discuss a one day itinerary of Bergen of Zoom (see map below).
Bergen op Zoom one day itinerary
1. Het Grote Markt
Het Grote Markt is the historical and the oldest part of the city. This place is a good starting point of the tour since you can already learn and see beautiful things about Bergen op Zoom. The traditional cobbled square of Het Grote Markt is surrounded by old buildings, historical hotel, cafes and restaurants, and a church. This place is still very much alive day and evening. You can go for a beer or lunch and dinner in the restaurants and pubs, or learned some history of the city. In case you get lost of your tour, the tower of the church is a guide that will lead you back to the Grote Markt.
2. Sint Gertrudiskerk of Bergen op Zoom
Sint Gertrudiskerk, also known as the Pepper plant church, is one of the prominent landmarks in the city center of Bergen op Zoom. According to legend, Saint Gertrude of Nivelles founded the church in 654. The church tower is visible in most part of the city center and thus you can use it as landmark when going back to the city center op Bergen op Zoom. This church consists of 183 steps to the top and gives you a nice panoramic view of the city.
3. Bergen op Zoom Gevangenpoort (Prisoners Gate)
The Gevangenpoort in Bergen op Zoom is one of the oldest city gate that is still existing in The Netherlands. This gate has a central position in the city and its building served as a prison for 450 years. In the past, those who enter the city of Bergen of Zoom could not come out of the city, which remained that way until 1931. Touring this building is very interesting since it is still well-preserved with impressive engravings on the wall of the prisoners. There is also a very nice escape room based in the basement of the Prisoners Gate.
4. Het Markiezenhof
Het Markiezenhof was built during 15th century and served as a residential palace of the lords and marquises of Bergen op Zoom. It is a beautiful castle with historical kitchen garden. Nowadays it is turned into a museum and is considered as one of the 4 historical monuments to visit in Brabant region, next to St. Johns’Cathedral, the Great Church in Breda, and Heeswijk Castle. The ground floor of Het Markiezenhof is for free and you can enjoy the view of tower as well as the embellishments in the gate. In case you want to enter inside the museum, you need to pay for entrance tickets. Check the website of Het Markiezenhof for updated prices.
5. Anton Van Duinkerkenpark
The Anton Van Duinkerkenpark is a piece of greenery with water and arts in the heart of Bergen op Zoom. This park was built at end of the 19th century designed by L. Rosseels in 1887 and was originally known as Volkspark (People’s Park) until 1968. After the death of the owner Anton van Duinkerken, who is a well-known celebrity (essayist and poet), the park was renamed after him.
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