5 things you have to do when in Dordrecht
Have you ever visited Dordrecht? If not, now is the time to do it. Dordrecht is celebrating its 800 years of having city rights. This makes the city the oldest one in the South Holland Province. Dordrecht is also well-recognised, thanks to the substantial historical role this city played in past centuries. Celebrations will last for 366 days, as it's a leap year this year.
Where is Dordrecht, you ask? The city is very close to Rotterdam. You can reach Dordrecht easily by car or train. It takes about 7 minutes to get from Rotterdam Central Station to Dordrecht Central Station. Going from Amsterdam? It will take you approximately about 1,5 hours, it could be a little more, it could be a little less.
However, the most crucial question of all is: Why bother going to Dordrecht? Well, the city is full of surprises. Here are five things you need to do when there!
1. Start off with a relaxing walk
Enjoy fantastic views of the old town while walking. Old houses, picturesque bridges, shining canals with boats waiting for another adventure, you will see it all. Mind you, it will not be a short walk. To visit two of its "islands" (the first one is the oldest, the second one is a mix, yet it’s still filled with examples of beautiful architecture), it will take you about one hour. There is a third "island", the biggest, with museums, cafes, shops, statues, galleries, and many more. If you want to visit them, book a week's stay!
Walking in Dordrecht is very relaxing. It has just the right atmosphere - and if you are lucky enough, you will see the old city at its best: during sunset. When the soft light evolves from pinky-red to violet-navy blue it's just magical!
2. Take a look at the Grote Kerk... carefully!
It is the biggest and the second oldest church in Dordrecht. The Grote Kerk was built between 1285 and 1470. It has a 72-metre tall church tower, which is still not finished (they first wanted to make it 108 metres!). There you can hear the delightful sounds of more than 60 bells playing together. This group of bells is enormous and is the heaviest in the Netherlands.
The tower is not finished, and not without reason. During its construction, the heaviness of the structure caused the tower to lean. Could Dordrecht's Cathedral become a second Pisa?
Apart from that, there is something that differentiates this church from many others. Architecture - of course, beautiful. Tilted tower - yes, quite impressive. Sound of the bells - fine! But there is something even more exciting. It is all about the windows. I genuinely recommend taking notice. They are eye-catching, and amid a few traditional ones, you can find some real pearls. Especially when the interior is lit up, it will leave you impressed.
3. What about a little culture?
Dordrecht should be proud of its museums. My favourite is Huis Van Gijn. It is quite similar (from my perspective) to the one I visited in Amsterdam and enjoyed very much: Willet-Holthuysen Museum. It is even better, as the approach here is more personal.
What you can expect: a glimpse of the old way of living. An old house full of stylish furniture and eye-catching paintings, but also bibelots, souvenirs and decorative elements here and there. Just imagine being transported back in time. What a lovely house to live in, right? Here you can also imagine how it would have been to wear clothes from past centuries.
If fashion is your thing, you will be happy to know the exhibition "Slow fashion" will be taking place in Dordrecht this year, covering 150 years of fashion!
4. Did you hear about Van Gogh?
Van Gogh stayed in the city for some time and he is not the only Dutch artist that has ties to Dordrecht. Just to name a few: Ary Scheffer, Aart Schouman and Arnold Houbraken. My favorite is Aelbert Cuyp - his landscapes are fantastic. There is also a massive collection of paintings in Dordrecht’s museums. Definitely worth taking a look!
And it’s not just artists. There are also notable writers, singers, sportsmen, astronomers connected to Dordrecht, and even a pirate as well! Dordrecht is not a boring city, not at all :)
5. Last but not least: Grab a bite!
Foodies, this is for you. Let me guide you (or my stomach) to all the yummy stuff Dordrecht has to offer:
Try Coffeelicious. As the name claims: the place is all about delicious coffee. If you are hungry, order breakfast for two - it is a massive portion of deliciousness called "Morning Glory". The pancakes are especially fantastic, as they are served fresh with fruits and powdered sugar. You can combine your breakfast with a visit to the Huis Van Gijn Museum.
Fancy something else? Visit patisserie Van Den Sterre. It has the most excellent Dutch Breakfast (called "Classic", of course!), and the best apple pastry called “de Appelmarijn”.
If you fancy crispy, spicy chicken, with a nice side salad and the best fries, try Het Magazijn. Prices are reasonable, the interior is spacious and, of course, the food is excellent!
The best supper
Bistro La Boheme! Make sure you have a reservation. And take note, it can be a little pricey. It is also not easy to get there, as the place is very small. However, it is quite stylish and cosy.
Don't miss out on Dordrecht!
Still not convinced about going to Dordrecht? Well, you're missing out. Just take a look at all of the pictures! Can you still say that you do not want to enjoy these sights yourself?