August 2021. Not only are there still coronavirus countermeasures, but I’m also on the lookout for activities which don’t involve eating and drinking. I really want to keep my weight in check. So after Troll Forest at De Schorre in Boom with Oriol, Thanh and I took the S32 train to Roosendaal, just across the border in the Netherlands.
Thanh discovered the Roosendaal Art Tour or Kunstommetje as the VVV in the Dutch city calls the trail. The VVV or Vereniging voor Vreemdelingenverkeer (Association for Foreigners’ Traffic) is the name for tourist offices in the Netherlands. Dutch is the official language in both Flanders and the Netherlands, but sometimes it feels like another language.
By the way. Flemish is not a separate language. Neither is ‘American’ the English spoken in the United States, ‘Canadian’ in Canada, ‘Australian’ in Australia, ‘Neo Zealandian’ in New Zealand (and so many others) and neither is ‘Brazilian’ the Portuguese spoken in Brazil. Surely there are differences in pronunciation and vocabulary, even sometimes in spelling, but English is English everywhere, Portuguese is Portuguese everywhere and Dutch is Dutch everywhere.
Roosendaal is both a city and a municipality in the in the province of North Brabant. Louis I, King of Holland granted Roosendaal city rights in 1809. But when the Napoleonic era ended in 1815 and the Kingdom of the Netherlands was created, those city rights were rescinded. ‘City’ has no official status in the current Kingdom, there are only municipalities or gemeentes.
Nispen merged with Roosendaal to form the municipality Roosendaal en Nispen. On 1 January 1997 the municipalities Roosendaal en Nispen and Wouw merged into the municipality now simply known as Roosendaal.
Roosendaal goes back to the 12th and 13th century. The name Rosendaele was first mentioned in a document of 1268. Roosendaal was always a part of North Brabant.
In the Middle Ages, Roosendaal grew as a result of the turf business, but the Eighty Years’ War (1568–1648) put an end to the growth as Roosendaal and Wouw were suffering from itinerant combat troops that plundered and ravaged everything they came across. For decades the countryside of Roosendaal was abandoned.
Roosendaal Railway Station
Roosendaal Railway Station opened on 3 July 1854 on the Antwerp – Lage Zwaluwe railway line and is the beginning of the Roosendaal – Vlissingen railway line. Roosendaal was the first station in North Brabant to be built.
Roosendaal is also a border station between the Netherlands and Belgium. Trains in Belgium run on the left side of double-track whereas in the Netherlands right-hand running is the norm. At some borders, the changeover is achieved by using a flyover, but at Roosendaal trains stop and await a signal to allow them to proceed to the opposite track.
Since June 2015 there has been an NMBS / SNCB ticket machine at the station to buy Belgian train tickets.
In 1907 the building was replaced by the current building, designed by Daniël Knuttel and George van Heukelom. A locomotive shed, a signal box, a signal bridge and the customs shed were built in 1907 next to the station building.
The locomotive shed still exists as a protected monument. During World War II, the station building was heavily damaged, after which it was rebuilt in 1949 under the direction of Sybold van Ravesteyn. The architect largely maintained the design from 1905, but did create a new, more sober entrance building.
The 1905-1907 design explains the choice for coats of arms on the facade.
From left to right you see
- the Kingdom of Greece with Danish estucheon;
- the Ottoman Empire and specifically Turkey;
- Czarist Russia;
- Habsburg led Austria-Hungary;
- Savoy led Italy;
- Unified Germany;
- England, but actually the United Kingdom;
Conspicuously absent is Belgium. Belgium split from the Kingdom of the Netherlands in 1830.
Roosendaal Art Tour
Don’t expected to be wowed, but the art tour helps you discover Roosendaal. The city is far from a A-destination, but that’s okay.