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.
Dordrecht, historically known in English as Dordt (still colloquially used in Dutch, pronounced or Dort, is a city and municipality in the Western Netherlands, located in the province of South Holland.
It is the province’s fifth-largest city after Rotterdam, The Hague, Zoetermeer and Leiden, with a population of some 120,000. The municipality covers the entire Dordrecht Island, also often called Het Eiland van Dordt (the Island of Dordt), bordered by the rivers Oude Maas, Beneden Merwede, Nieuwe Merwede, Hollands Diep, and Dordtsche Kil.
Dordrecht is the largest and most important city in the Drechtsteden and is also part of the Randstad, the main conurbation in the Netherlands. Dordrecht is the oldest city in Holland.
Quick city walk
We did a quick city walk, including
- Dordrecht Town Hall was built between 1383 and 1388 by Flemish merchants. They used the building as a market hall. From 1544, it housed the city’s administration and found its current use as Stadhuis (city hall). The cellars with cross vaults date from the 17th century. At that time, the city prison was part of the Town Hall. In the attic, the original wooden structures of the roof can still be seen, as well as the old prison cells. Between 1835 and 1845, the building was radically rebuilt. The façades lost their medieval appearance; city architect G.N. Itz gave the building a neo-classical façade with a central, raised and slightly protruding portico of columns with a pediment. The belfry is remarkable; it is very similar to the tower of Nieuwkerk 44 (also by Itz) and was intended to convey the power of the administrators. Later, two cast-iron lions were placed on either side of the monumental staircase.
- Great or Our Lady Church. The medieval church is a building with a rich history, whose origins lie in the 11th century. The leaning tower is striking. According to the design, it should have been 108 metres high with a spire. During construction, the tower began to sag, causing the architect to stop at 65 metres and therefore the tower no longer has a spire.
- Groothoodspoort (Groothoofd Gate). The Groothoofd is located at the three-river point; the busiest river crossing point in Europe. The Beneden-Merwede, the Oude Maas and the Noord rivers come together here. The Groothoofdspoort, traditionally Dordrecht’s most important city gate, can still be seen from the water. The old, late-Gothic city gate was built around 1440-1450 and was enclosed in 1617-1618 by a new Renaissance gate, which defines the current image. In 1692, the turret was replaced by the current dome. On the land side of the gate is the city arms of Dordrecht, on the water side an image of the Dordrecht city virgin. Bellevue was built around 1840 and is connected to the Groothoofdspoort. Its current appearance is determined by the changes made at the end of the 19th century under the direction of architect H.W. Veth and at the beginning of the 20th century to a design by C.J.J. Tenenti jr. The building is situated on a remnant of an old dike body and has an extra lower floor on the river side. The monument has a catering destination and has been completely renovated and partly rebuilt. Bellevue Groothoofd has several terraces, restaurants, meeting and party rooms, luxury hotel rooms and a bridal suite.
- Damiate Bridge.The Damiatebrug over the mouth of the Wolwevershaven was built in the 19th century to a design by the city architect G.N. Itz, who designed most of the bridges in Dordrecht. Drawbridges were initially made of wood, but from 1837 cast iron was also used in the Netherlands. The bridge was therefore originally made of the easily formed cast iron and hammered iron. In the same year, however, it had to be rebuilt because, two weeks after it was commissioned, one of the balances had collapsed. The use of different types of iron was still in its infancy, so the cast iron was replaced with wrought iron to keep the bridge functioning properly. The bridge has a clearance of 14.5 metres.
Poffertjes are a traditional Dutch batter treat. Resembling small, fluffy pancakes, they are made with yeast and buckwheat flour. They have a light, spongy texture and are sometimes served with custard in or on the poffertje.
Typically, poffertjes are a sweet treat, served with powdered sugar and butter, and sometimes syrup or advocaat. However, there is also a savoury variant with gouda cheese.
Long live calories!