On a colder than anticipated Sunday in March 2022, Oriol took me for a surprise one-day road trip to the Netherlands for a hike. First we walked the Moerputten Bridge near ‘s-Hertogenbosch, we then went to Gorinchem (also spelled as pronounced Gorkum or Gorcum), to Dordrecht and we ended the excursion at Willemstad.
Gorinchem, Gorkum or Gorkum is a municipality in the Dutch province of South Holland. A walled city, it looked like an interesting place to look for something to eat after visiting the Moerputten.
Actually, in 2021 the Royal Dutch Touring Club ANWB voted Gorinchem to be the Netherlands’ most beautiful fortified city.
“Gorinchem, nestled between the Linge and Merwede rivers, is truly a fortified city. Early in the 17th century, this medieval city was ‘modernised’ with brand-new fortifications. The original city earthwork ramparts with bastions are almost completely intact, making Gorinchem the largest authentic fortified city in the Netherlands”, the city’s official tourism site Mooi Gorinchem says.
In 1672, a year known in Dutch as the Rampjaar (Disaster Year), when the Dutch Republic was simultaneously attacked by England, France, and the prince-bishop of Münster and archbishop of Cologne, Gorinchem was an important stronghold in the old ‘Dutch Water Line’ defence system. When the New Water Line was established Gorinchem remained a strategic stronghold. The original city earthwork ramparts with bastions are almost completely intact, making Gorinchem the largest authentic fortified city in the Netherlands.
The Netherlands boasts dozens of towns, cities and fortresses dating back to the Middle Ages where you can still see remnants of the past. Most of the fortified towns did not escape the 19th-century push for progress, when fortifications were demolished to make way for industry, housing or public gardens.
Gorinchem has been preserved, however. Many of these fortification buildings and structures have been refurbished and these days serve a contemporary purpose which local residents and visitors alike can enjoy.
But we didn’t do all these things. It was too cold, we were underdressed for the cold wind and we were hungry. We went for lunch at Tax, situated near Gorcums Museum.
All restaurants and grand cafés, a very popular description for eateries in the Netherlands, were understaffed and actively looking for staff.
Gorinchem is certainly worth a return visit, when it’s warmer and / or we’re better dressed for the cold. Then we could do the ferry to Woudrichem.