What exactly is it that makes Groningen so very special? Be surprised by the variety of faces in both the city and province with the Groningen 7, a selection of places of interest that are typical of the northern part of the Netherlands.
The university city with the youngest population in The Netherlands features dozens of museums, galleries, theatres and festivals, and is bursting with national and international talents. After shopping, take a break at one of the innumerable outdoor cafés with a view of both historic and contemporary architecture. Alternatively, visit one of the almshouses, gardens or parks.
In 2016 the Lauwersmeer National Park was officially proclaimed a Dark City Park: an area where darkness is maintained. When in 1969 the Lauwerszee sea was closed off from the Wadden Sea, the Lauwersmeer Lake developed, and was designated a National Park for a very good reason. In this impressive scenic area, special animals live together in perfect harmony. The dykes, colcs and coupures in the area are reminiscent of how human beings have lived with the water here for centuries.
The Wadden Sea is among the top of UNESCO World Heritage sites. It comes second after the Alps as the largest connected wilderness in Central Europe, the Groningen part of which is considered the most untouched. The area is of international interest as the breeding area for the North Sea and a resting, moulting, feeding and breeding ground of millions of (migratory) birds. The Wadden area is also a perfect habitat for seals; during low tide, the sandbanks provide safe places for resting and nursing the young. In 2016, the Dutch Wadden Sea area was awarded ‘Best nature reserve in The Netherlands’; an accomplishment to be proud of.
Often besieged, never conquered. The past comes to life in the Bourtange fortress that has been renovated to its old glory. The surrounding area is also more than worth exploring; the Westerwolde region is famous for its variety, from wooded areas to moors and brooks to pastures.
Explore the beauty of the Groningen estate houses, which developed from mediaeval stone houses into real showpieces inhabited by noble families. There were once over one hundred Groningen estate houses in the province, but many have been lost. Some of the 16 remaining ones now function as museums.
Borgen in Groningen >>
Magnificent ancient churches, many of them in a frugal Roman or Roman-Gothic style tower proudly above the Groningen countryside. Some are open to the public, in which case a key can be retrieved from the neighbours.
Churches in Groningen >>
Groningen has many Wierden or terps; ancient artificial hillocks that protected inhabitants against high waters for over a thousand years. They became redundant as a result of diking-in and some of them were levelled. In the case of those that were retained, the church is often still located on the highest point.
These seven places of interest represent the most distinctive features of Groningen. For more information about Groningen, go to www.toerisme.groningen.nl.