We are currently acting the surreptitious-camper version of our travels as we overnight (again) at the golf course in Naarden, about 20km east of Amsterdam. The trip down took us past realllly flat farmlands, the type Norwegians dream of! It is also easy the see the Dutch love affair with big wind-driven machinery!
About 5km from the old town itself, an easy and well-marked cycle route took us into town. The photos taken don’t do justice to the complexity (and beauty) of the fortifications, so excuse me getting the google aerial version to help picture the town.
Also of interest is the way in which the fortification walls’ interior has been used to house offices, restaurants and the like, providing a surprisingly warm and intimate atmosphere, lit by means of skylights. The concentric moats, thick defensive walls and massed cannons didn’t always seem to be successful, falling to the Spanish, the French, and then back to the Dutch, accompanied by the requisite massacres. The French, fired by revolutionary fervour, carved ‘Liberté Egalité Fraternaté into the tombs making up the floor of the church – in response to the fact that only the rich could afford those. Hmmm, the 1% argument seems pretty old.
The town itself is small, housed as it is within the confines of city walls. The town – actually a ‘city’ and granted such rights in the 14thC – can be crossed by foot in 10 minutes. The streets are picturesque, with the town dominated by the church of St Vitus . The church is unique – very high barrel ceiling built of wood and painted in the 16thC pre-Reformation. The roof remained intact after the Reformation as it depicts biblical scenes rather than saints etc. One of the things I’ve enjoyed in our church visits as we travel through countries is the regional aspect given by art to works of belief – Look at this panel of Jonah swallowed by a whale after falling off a Dutch cargo boat.
The church has also been a bit creative, providing circular mirrors that allow you to avoid serious physiotherapy fees as you contort your neck to look vertically! Instead, use the mirrors, which also seem to enlarge the image – clever, these Dutch.
So, two nights in Naarden and then we’ll head off to Amsterdam in the morning, and see if our planned parking, in a hotel parking lot, will be successful …