Since King’s Day, an epic celebration of the King’s Birthday that attracts over a million people to Amsterdam each year (more on this HERE), is just around the corner, let’s celebrate by talking about one of my favourite cities in The Netherlands!
Delft is a city in the province of South Holland, between Rotterdam and The Hague. It is definitely a tourist attraction; however, if you go in the offseason it will be pretty quiet. This city is home to the Delft University of Technology and is also more historically known for the Delft Blue Pottery (Delfts Blauw in Dutch). Delft is presumed to have started around the 11th century and was once the residence of William of Orange (from the House of Orange, the leader of the Dutch revolt against Spain, also known as William the Silent) in 1572.
Since we didn’t get a chance to visit Delft until we were already arranging plans to move back to North America, we had to fit it all into one day. It’s totally possible to do, and here are my top 5 things you should include on your itinerary if you decide to do the same!
1) Delft City Hall: Okay, I admit, we did not go in. It was closed (as much in Europe tends to be on a weekend). However, it is super cool to look at when standing in the middle of the market square! (Tip: If you turn around you can also check out Nieuwe Kerk on the other side of the market). This renaissance style building is the seat of the city’s government and a popular venue for weddings for all you engaged folks out there! The red shutters on the outside of the building date back to 1618, holy moly!
2) The Eastern Gate: This piece of Gothic architecture was built around 1400. A few additions were made in the 1500’s such as a makeover to the floors, the high spires, and some enhancements to the towers. At the moment it is an art gallery and residence, however, you can walk around it, or through it, and take lots of great photos. This is the last one in the city as the others were demolished in the 19th century.
3) Experience Royal Delft: Though this museum is a tad overpriced, and not included in your Museum Card, I would say it’s worth it. You can’t go all the way to Delft and not go to this museum. It will give you an in-depth history lesson into the world of Delftware, with lots of famous and unique pottery examples on the way. There you can also visit the original factory, and then make a purchase in their gift shop. The original factory was established in 1653 and is the only remaining Royal Delft pottery factory from the 17th century.
4) Walk Around Aimlessly: You must be sick of hearing this from me, I suggest it a lot. Delft is so cute and charming, that if you don’t walk around you’ll miss the tiny characteristics and treasures that make it what it is. This city is so old and unique, lined with canals, cute homes, traditional restaurants and lots of shops to stop in, such as the tiny antique shop we found that was selling old Dutch tiles (something we now collect)!
5) Museum Prinsenhof: I was very impressed with this museum. If you only have time to visit one, this should be your top pick. It was very interactive and informative about Dutch history, Delft, and The House of Orange (it even had family photos leading all the way up to present day). A unique aspect in this museum is that you can walk up the steps that William of Orange was murdered on, and even put your fingers in the bullet holes in the wall. William of Orange was assassinated just after having lunch with the Mayor, by Frenchman Balthasar Gerards. His tomb is now in Nieuwe Kerk. This building was built in the middle ages, originally as a monastery, later becoming a palace.
A day in Delft is sufficient, but if you have more time there is still lots more to see and do in this picturesque city. While you’re there be sure to pick up some postcards (they were actually quite cheap, I picked up 10 for only a few Euros), and stop for a tasty traditional Dutch meal!
Have you been to Delft? What did you think? Any suggestions on what to do there? Let me know in the comments below!