Five things I love about Delft

By Contributor

Bev is the co-founder of Staying Native. She left her corporate gig to be able to travel more with her young family. She loves traveling and likes to share her local experiences with others. As an amateur photographer, her stories come with lots of pictures. Bev is Staying Native's lead tweep, moderator of the "Do it like a local" blog and the curator of all things social media.

Monday, Oct 7, 2013

All I knew of Delft before visiting there was that it was renowned for its very typically dutch delftware but after my first visit it quickly became one of my favourite spots to spend the day. Here are my five favourite things about Delft.

Proximity to Amsterdam and The Hague

Delft is only an hour from Amsterdam by train and just minutes from The Hague. While living in Amsterdam we would often spend a day split between The Hague and Delft. I recommend catching an early train to arrive by 8:30 or 9:00am. Like most European cities, Delft is best explored on foot. With chocolade broodjes and koffie verkeerd in hand we would set off to see what there was to discover.


Het Blauwe Hart - The Blue Heart Sculpture by Marcel Smink of Delft


I have always had a fondness for delftware and its traditional colour, aptly named Delft Blue.  Beginning in the 1600’s, Delft was one of the most important ceramics producers in Europe.  Today, delftware is still well known around the world. If you fancy a souvenir, many shops have antique tiles, vases and figures for sale, alongside more contemporary pieces that will make the perfect memento.


Antique Delftware tiles

Het Prinsenhof

Built in the 15th century as St. Agatha’s convent, Het Prinsenhof later became the court of William I.  Founder of the House Orange-Nassau and regarded as the Father of the Dutch Republic, William of Orange began the lineage of the current reigning royal family of the Netherlands. On July 10, 1584, William was assassinated. He was shot 3 three times by Balthasar Gérard for his disloyalty to the King of Spain. Two of the shots went directly through his body, causing damage to the wall of the stairwell. The damage from the shots has been preserved and is still visible today.

Museum Het Prinsenhof (located at Sint Agathaplein 1) has permanent exhibits dedicated to William of Orange and the Golden Age of Delft, including a wonderful showcase of delftware ceramics.


The gates to Het Prinsenhof

Oude Kerk

Founded in 1246, Oude Kerk (Old Church) sits right on the ‘delf', the old dutch word for ‘canal', which gave Delft its name.  Its tower was completed in 1350.  Known as ‘Scheve Jan' or ‘Crooked John' by the locals, Oude Kerk is unmistakeable with its crooked bell tower which rises 75m and leans about 2m from vertical. For many years, the people of Delft lived in fear of the towers collapse and in 1843 discussion of its demolition was brought before the city council. Despite these fears, the tower still stands today.  Among the notable citizens of Delft buried at Oude Kerk are the prolific artist, Johannes Vermeer and renowned scientist and creator of the microscope, Anthony van Leeuwenhoek. The church is located at Heilige Geestkerkhof 25.


A great view of Leaning Jan, the crooked tower of Oude Kerk

Nieuwe Kerk

Located in the Markt Square, construction of the Nieuwe Kerk (new church) began in 1381. It wasn’t completed until 1655, having already suffered a massive fire in 1536 caused by lightning and the 1654 explosion of the Delft gunpowder depot.  The bell tower has been a Delft landmark for centuries and at a height of almost 109m is the second tallest in the Netherlands. The tower is open to the public and on a clear day you can easily see Rotterdam and The Hague from the top.


The blackened bell tower of Nieuwe KerkIt is often rumoured that the blackened top of the bell tower was a result of fire damage, but that is a myth. In fact, it is the reaction of acid rain with the sandstone used to build that portion of tower that has caused it to darken.

Local Tip: 
The Stadscafé De Waag is my favorite spot in Delft for lunch (Markt 11).  I recommend their gegrilde kipsaté met frites (grilled chicken with peanut sauce and fries). Very Dutch!


Monet mural by Shaun Herron on Kromstraat

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