Discovering Groningen, a province and a city in the Northern part of the Netherlands, made me see how Groningen differs from other parts of the Netherlands I am familiar with, such as North and South Holland, Brabant, and Gelderland. My interest in Groningen Netherlands started when I met my husband who is a typical Groninger. The stubbornness, directness, honest and down-to-earth traits of the Dutch, which is also very visible on him, are quite common among those coming from the North of the Netherlands. Visiting Groningen help me to relate with the childhood life of my husband and to appreciate more the Netherlands. Of course, not only Groningers have unique traits, but also the province (and city) themselves. In this blog, I will discuss my five unique impressions of Groningen Netherlands that might aid you in your discovery of this city and region.
Five unique impressions of Groningen Netherlands
1. Groningen Netherlands is the past and present subject of landscape paintings
If Holland region is the place where the Dutch symbol (e.g. windmills, clogs, tulips) and trading skills became known worldwide, Groningen is a region that became a popular subject of many landscape paintings. The picturesque landscape of Groningen, such as wide flat land spaces, beautiful clear blue skies and farmlands inspired many local and international painters in the past and in the present to come to visit Groningen for landscape painting. Similar to other parts of The Netherlands, the nature is one of the great treasures of Groningen. One of the villages of Groningen, Bourtange, has been a popular site in Groningen. Behind the long-stretching grasslands that Bourtange manifests from the outsiders, you’ll find a living museum village that manifests the 17th century way of living. In addition, it has a pentagon aerial view which plays an important role during the 80 years war between Dutch and Spain. Check this link if interested to know more about Bourtange.
Along the wide spaces in Groningen you will also find many classical farmlands. That is why the Northern part of the Netherlands, including Groningen, has a strong agricultural focus such as on dairy. The cows being pasteurise in the green grasses are the typical view, especially during the summer period.
2. Groningen Netherlands is well-known for the Groninger museum
Across the century old beautiful monument of Groningen central station, you can find the exceptionally colourful and modernly built Groninger museum. This museum features exhibits on different subjects such as fashions, photography, paintings, and designs; collections that dated from many centuries back; and local and internationally renowned collections. What I found interesting is that this museum exhibits the centuries old painting of Hendrik Louis Wijchgel van Lellens, the ancestor of my husband’s mother who once owned lands and two Borgen (castle like land houses) in the province of Groningen from the 15th to the 18th century. This painting used to be in the grandfather’s house of my husband, and was then sold (or donated) to Groninger Museum.
3. Groningen has a long and good cycling path for villages hopping
Many small villages are scattered within the land, which is within biking distance or a few kilometers from each other. These villages were built on terps or small hills, supported by dikes, water channels, and empty large areas. Touring Groningen by bike, espeically in Midden Humsterdland, is a wonderful way to explore the villages in the region.
4. Groningen Netherlands has one of the best tower “bell” in Europe
The 500 years old, 260-steps high Martini Tower can be found in Groningen. This tower has 62 bells, which are considered as one of the best bells in Europe. The tower was initially built at 30 meters in the 13th century and was extended over time. It had been struck by lightning for three times in the history causing partial collapse. Nowadays, the tower is 97-meters high and provides a very good overview of the city of Groningen.
5. Groningen has a young population and vibrant night life.
Groningen is the youngest city in the Netherlands, with half of the population under 35 years old (majority composed of 20-24 years old). The two universities in the region makes it a place for young people, mostly students coming locally and internationally. The young population in Groningen also leads to a vibrant night life in the city. In fact, Groningen has a “Night Mayor” who manages nighlife, culture, and music of Groningen. The bars in the city centers are also legally allowed to operate 24 hours a day (City of Talent).