Amersfoort

Travel Guide Europe Netherlands Utrecht Amersfoort

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Introduction

Amersfoort is an originally medieval city to the east of Amsterdam and Utrecht. It is at the edge of their commuting area, and has expanded in recent years. The city centre (the medieval city) is full of historic buildings and streets, and there is accessible forest into the west and south. The city of Amersfoort (municipality) has about 148,000 inhabitants, the urban region about 285,000. Amersfoort is located in the province of Utrecht in the Netherlands, bordering on the province of Gelderland.

Amersfoort takes its name from a ford (voorde) in the Eem river, which was once called the 'Emer' or 'Amer', at the edge of higher ground, the Utrecht ridge. The ford is on the shortest route across low marshy ground, from the ridge to the nearest higher ground on the east. As a result, Amersfoort was, and still is, on the main road from the western Netherlands to northern Germany,and the later Amsterdam - Berlin railway followed this route. The low-lying area between the Utrecht and Veluwe ridges is called the Valley of Gelderland, Gelderse Vallei, and it is now a zone of intensive farming.

The first written record of the settlement was in 1028. In the 12th century the Bishopric of Utrecht fortified it (because of its strategic location), and in 1259 granted it city rights. The first city wall of stone was built in the late 13th century.

Around 1380 a new wall was built: some of the city gates still survive. The city was a late medieval pilgrimage centre, and in 1444 began the construction of a cathedral. Most of it was destroyed in an explosion in 1787, but the tower survives, one of the highest church towers in the Netherlands. The 98 meter late-medieval eye-catcher is called Onze Lieve Vrouwentoren. Because of its visibility, it was the starting point for the accurate triangulation of the country, and it is still the true origin of the Dutch national grid (coordinates 463.000, 155.000).

Amersfoort's medieval industries were cloth and beer: in the 18th century it prospered due to the locally-grown tobacco. The railway began the modern expansion. In recent years growth has accelerated, with suburban expansion mainly to the north. During its medieval heyday Amersfoort was both a popular place of pilgrimage as well as an important city in the brewing industry. The oldest of Amersfoorts bars, In Den Grooten Slock, still stands today. The historic brewery, De Drie Ringen, brews excellent beers and is open to the public (from Friday til Sunday from 1 til 7 pm).

The central location allowed Amersfoort to become a major railway hub in the late 19th century. This also increased it's strategic importance and up until 1980 it was one of the biggest garrison towns of the Netherlands. The military presence is still visible in the army bases (the Bernhardkazerne is still active and housing the Cavalry museum), nearby training grounds, and former airforce base Soesterberg.

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Sights and Activities

The roughly circular historic centre is the main attraction of Amersfoort. The Eem river runs diagonally through the old city, south-east to northwest, from the Monnickendam to the Koppelpoort. It is crossed at right angles by the Langestraat, part of the old highway from Utrecht to Zwolle, and still the main street. The station is on the west side, and the Town Hall is at the western edge of the old city, on the road to the station. Most of the office buildings in the centre are located on or near this road. Apart from the Langestraat, most of the shopping streets are on the west side of the centre also. Specific sights include:

Museums

  • Mondriaanhuis, Kortegracht 11, e-mail: info@mondriaanhuis.nl. Situated in the house of birth of the famous artist Piet Mondriaan, this museum is completely dedicated to his work and includes a reconstruction of his 1920s Paris studio. The museum has English descriptions of objects and artefacts, English brochures and guided tours in English. Please make a reservation for a tour in English at least four days in advance.
  • Museum Flehite, Westsingel 50, ☎ +31 33 247 1100, e-mail: info@museumflehite.nl. Housed in buildings dating back to around 1540 the Museum Flehite hosts art exhibitions and artefacts that reflect the history of Amersfoort. English summary of history of Amersfoort available. Guided tours in English possible. Please make a reservation for a tour in English at least four days by telephone.
  • Kunsthal KAdE, Eemplein 77 (Next to the Eemhuis), ☎ +31 33 422 5030. Tu-Fr 11AM-5PM and Sa-Su 12AM-5PM; M closed. Organises exhibitions of (modern) art, architecture, design and contemporary culture. € 10 for adults, free for children. € 5 for students..
  • Latin American Art Museum of Amersfoort (Lakma), Muurhuizen 104, ☎ +31 33 465 86 86, e-mail: info@lakma.nl. The first Museum in The Netherlands dedicated to Spanish, Mexican, Caribbean, Central and South American contemporary art. English and Spanish descriptions of objects and artefacts are present. Guided tours in English and Spanish possible. For a guided tour in English or Spanish for groups consisting of more than ten persons please make a reservation. edit
  • Cavaleriemuseum, Barchman Wuytierslaan 198, ☎ +31 33 466 1996, e-mail: info@cavaleriemuseum.nl. Houses an exhibition relating to both early and modern cavalry of the Dutch army, spanning more than 435 years.

Historical attractions

  • Onze Lieve Vrouwetoren (Our Lady tower; also "Lange Jan", means Long John). With its 98 meter high the 'Onze Lieve Vrouwetoren' is the second highest tower in the Netherlands. There are regular tours during the summer months where you can discover everything about the history and legends surrounding the tower. You can climb the 364 steps on a guided tour, from July to mid-September. The climb on the former cathedral spire will reward you with an amazing view. edit
  • Koppelpoort. Probably the best preserved city gate in the Netherlands. It is the northern city gate of the second wall and a dual water and land entrance to the city, built over the river Eem, which begins under the gate.
  • Monnickendam. The southern water gate of the second wall. In the gate there is a restaurant.
  • Amersfoortse Kei (On the corner of Stadsring and Arnhemsestraat). This glacial boulder is the symbol for the city. A 17th-century nobleman and poet persuaded 400 inhabitants to drag the 7156 kg stone to Amersfoort, for beer, just to show they would do something useless. The incident made the city the butt of jokes, and it buried the stone for centuries, out of shame. In 1903 the city felt sufficiently rehabilitated to dig it up again, and it became its symbol. In fact, the city started to collect boulders, gifts from other cities: they are displayed on the inner ring road, along the line of the old city wall.
  • Sint Joriskerk (Church of Saint George). The largest church, on the main square, Hof, with the old Town Hall. In December 2011 a complete restoration of the interior of the St Joris church was finished.
  • Kamperbinnenpoort (At the crossing of Langestraat, Kamp, Weverssingel and Zuidsingel). The only remaining gate of the first medieval city wall. edit

Muurhuizen (Wall houses) (Along 't Zand, Weverssingel, Zuidsingel and Westsingel). A common name for all the houses which are built on the foundation of the first medieval city wall.

  • Remains of the second city wall (Eastern side of the historic city). Parts of the second city wall are still intact on much of the eastern side of the historic city. The Koppelpoort and the Monnickendam are also parts of these remains.

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Events and Festivals

Koningsdag (King's Day)

In 2013, the Dutch throne was passed on to King Willem-Alexander and what used to be Koninginnedag (Queen's Day) will from 2014 become Koningsdag (King's Day). The date will be changed to the 27th of April, which is the king's birthday. On this day the streets of almost every sizable town in the country come alive with activity.

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Getting There

By Train

Amersfoort station is a rail junction. One line comes from Amsterdam via Hilversum, another from Utrecht. Beyond Amersfoort, they split. The main line to the east goes to Apeldoorn, Deventer, and on to Enschede. The line north-east to Zwolle is the main line to the north of the country, to Leeuwarden and Groningen. Trains arrive and depart at similar times on both sides of the platform, so you need to be careful which train you board. There are two suburban stations, Schothorst and Vathorst. The main station is served:

  • from Amsterdam Centraal: 2 Intercity trains per hour, in 33 minutes, and 2 slower trains.
  • from Amsterdam Zuid: 2 Intercity trains per hour, in 35 minutes, and 2 slower trains.
  • from Utrecht: 4 Intercity trains per hour, in 14 minutes, and 2 slower trains.
  • from Deventer: 2 or 3 Intercity trains per hour, in 36 minutes.
  • from Zwolle: 2 Intercity trains per hour, in 35 minutes, and 2 slower trains.
  • from Ede-Wageningen station, connecting with trains from Arnhem, every 30 minutes, journey takes 33 minutes.

The Berlin - Amsterdam international trains also stop at Amersfoort, 6 trains per day, and one more from Hannover (with a connection from Berlin).

By Car

Amersfoort is next to a major intersection between the A1 motorway from Amsterdam to Hengelo and onwards to Germany, and the A28 motorway from Utrecht to Groningen. Nearby at Barneveld, the A30 provides a fast connection towards Arnhem.

By Bus

Amersfoort is served by regional bus lines, some with limited services. The main bus lines run every 30 minutes: line 80 from Wageningen, and three with parallel rail routes: the 70 from Hilversum, the 101 from Harderwijk and the 102 from Apeldoorn.

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Getting Around

By Car

Amersfoort city centre is easily accessible and offers multiple parking facilities, including eight parking garages in and around the city centre. The Parking Route Information System (PRIS) can guide you to any of our parking garages.

By Public Transport

Amersfoort does have a city bus network, with 10 lines, but services are not as frequent as you would expect, in a city this size. The city centre is small enough to walk everywhere, the station is 10 minutes walk from the centre. Outside the centre, the best way to get around is to cycle. Car access to the city centre is restricted.

By Bike

At the Central Train Station and various other locations in and around the city centre you can rent (electric) bicycles which you may then park for free at one of the many cycle racks in the city centre. In combination with the Eemlijn Fietsboot this can be a perfect day out. Alternatively, you can rent a scooter from the Tourist Bureau Amersfoort, where they also have information on scooter routes.

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Eat

Amersfoort hosts dozens of restaurants, many located in the main shopping areas. Many styles of food are represented, including stylish haute-cuisine, down-to-earth bistros, and 'foreign' cuisine such as American, Greek, Italian, Indian, Japanese, Mexican, and Thai food.

Some examples include:

  • Restaurant Voor Iedereen, Bloemendalsestraat 5, ☎ +31 33 - 88 88 635. Tasty food, great value for money. For every dish you can choose to have it as a starter or main. 2 course Chef's Menu for €15,50, mains starting from €12.
  • De Aubergerie, Kamp 88, ☎ +31 33 475 60 96. A small place serving French cuisine in a nice historic house. Mains start around €22, 4 course menu for € 39,50.
  • Yosshi, Utrechtseweg 38, ☎ +31 33 461 78 36. Widely considered to have the best sushi in town, all you can eat for under €25. From €21,80.
  • Charlie's Burger 33, Krankeledenstraat 18, ☎ +31 337505579. from 14pm Mon to Sun. Home-made burgers in all shapes, sizes and tastes Also offers a selection of deep fried snacks. from €5.
  • Pokélicious, Arnhemsestraat 14, ☎ +31 33 7370655. Fresh sushi.
  • Mexican: Marimba (Southwest corner of Het Hof (the square) in the center of Amersfoort).

The following restaurants are recognized by the 'Lekker!' organisation as some of the finest restaurants in the Netherlands:

  • De Aubergerie, Kamp 88, 3811AT Amersfoort.
  • Tollius, Utrechtseweg 42, 3818EM, Amersfoort.
  • De Saffraan, Kleine Koppel 3, 3812PG Amersfoort. This unique restaurant is situated in a boat moored in Amersfoort's harbour.
  • Blok’s, Krommestraat 49, 3811CB Amersfoort.
  • Merlot, Grote Koppel 16, ☎ +31 334557614, e-mail: info@merlot.nl. from 17:30 Mon to Sat. A stylish restaurant and wine bar that aims to provide culinary experiences. As the name implies, the restaurant prides itself on its 90 wines a patron can choose from.
  • De Pastinaeck, Hof 8, 3811CJ, Amersfoort.
  • Dara, Grote Koppel 5, 3813 AA Amersfoort, ☎ +31 33 470 2302. 11:30 am – 11:00 pm. Nice Moroccan restaurant with outdoor seating.

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Drink

There are plenty of bars around in the old City centre. The most important clusters of bars can be found on the two main squares (Onze Lieve Vrouwenkerkhof and Hof), Two of the better pubs there are Lobbes and Blauwe Engel, The Boothill Saloon (in Krankeledenstraat, near Onze Lieve Vrouwenkerkhof), Irish Pub Long John (also Krankenledenstraat) and 't Nonnetje (in Groenmarkt) are great places to go out.

Prices are, as in most Dutch pubs, somewhat high. In Long John a pint of Guinness might, for instance, set you back € 4.50, although the other pubs are slightly cheaper.

  • De Drie Ringen, Kleine Spui 18 (Koppelpoort), ☎ +31 33 465 65 75, e-mail: info@dedrieringen.nl. Always Fr-Su 13.00-19.30 and in Apr-Oct on Th 15.00-21.00. The last microbrewery of Amersfoort.

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Sleep

Amersfoort has a fairly large number of chain hotels, popular with business travellers as well as tourists. Prices vary strongly, based on availability. Below mentioned rates are starting prices, which may be significantly higher in high season, especially for hotels in the city centre.

  • NH Amersfoort, Stationsstraat 75 (Amersfoort Central Station), ☎ +31 33 4221200, e-mail: nhamersfoort@nh-hotels.com. Comfortable rooms and plenty of facilities, located a few minutes walk from the town centre and the train station. There is no private parking. From €56.25.
  • Mercure Hotel Amersfoort Centre, De Nieuwe Poort 20 (Eemplein). Fairly new, modernly decorated hotel next to the city centre. Breakfast is slightly overpriced but otherwise this is a fine place with ample facilities. Parking is free. From €59.
  • Van der Valk Hotel Amersfoort A1, Ruimtevaart 22 (Exit 13 Amersfoort Noord on A1), ☎ +31 33 4 540 000, fax: +31 33 4 540 001, e-mail: amersfoort@valk.com. Luxury hotel in northern Amersfoort.
  • Van der Valk Hotel Leusden-Amersfoort, Philipsstraat 18 (Exit 7 Leusden on A28), ☎ +31 33 434 53 45, fax: +31 33 434 53 00, e-mail: leusden@valk.com. Luxury hotel in the town of Leusden, directly east of Amersfoort.
  • Berghotel Amersfoort, Utrechtseweg 225 (Amersfoortse Berg), ☎ +31 33 422 42 22, e-mail: info@berghotelamersfoort.nl. Check-in: From 14.00, check-out: Until 11.00. A former farmhouse located on the Amersfoortse Berg in a wooded area. The city centre is a half an hour walking downwards. You can also walk or cycle in the nearby forest.
  • Golden Tulip Amersfoort, Stichtse Rotonde 11 (Amersfoortse Berg), ☎ +31 33 46 79 900, e-mail: info@goldentulipamersfoort.nl. Located out of town, in a forest area right outside of Amersfoort. Easily reachable and a nice base when you have a bike or car. Breakfast is somewhat expensive but rooms are nice and clean, with pleasant views. From €59.
  • Campanile Hotel & Restaurant Amersfoort, De Brand 50 (Exit 13 Amersfoort-Noord on A1), ☎ +31 33 455 87 57, fax: +31 33 456 26 20, e-mail: amersfoort@campanile.com. Located some 7km away from the city centre, and about 1,5km from the rail station. A convenient place if you have a car, as the high way is close and parking is free. From €50.
  • Hotel Randenbroek, Willem van Mechelenstraat 27-29 (Stadsring), ☎ +31 33 463 7415, fax: +31 33 463 2356, e-mail: info@hotelrandenbroek.nl. Hotel-pension on a 5 minutes walk to the city centre. There are 1,2,3 and 4 person rooms. From €37.
  • Lange Jan Hotel, Krankeledenstraat 22 (Onze Lieve Vrouwetoren), ☎ +31 33 461 88 97. Right in the town centre, located on a bustling square and on top of a bar, this cosy place is a real city hotel. It can be a bit noisy, especially when you have a room on the front side. Earplugs are provided. Some rooms in this budget friendly hotel have private toilets, others shared ones. They're not very spacious, but pleasant enough. The staff is very friendly and the breakfast is good. From €49.

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Keep Connected

Internet

Internet cafés are not as widespread as you would expect, but you can easily find one in the popular cities. Most hostels, hotels and camp sites have several computers, so you can keep connected with folk at home. Here is a list of internet cafés that could come in handy for travellers. Otherwise, most libraries have lots of computers and prices are around the €2-3 per hour range, although sometimes it can be even more expensive.

Wireless internet access using wifi is becoming more popular and is usually available at most hotels and increasingly at train stations. Also in trains (at least in most first class wagons, but also more and more in second class) and some buses you can use wifi. Finally, places like McDonald's and Starbucks have free wifi, and smaller individual business like cafés and restaurants are on the rise too offering these services. More often than not, these service tend to be free of charge, though there might be a limited time you can use the internet.

Phone

See also: International Telephone Calls

The country code for the Netherlands is 31. The outbound international prefix is 00. The general emergency number is 112, like many other countries.
0800 numbers are toll-free and for 09xx numbers are charged at premium rates. Mobile phones have numbers in the 06 range, and calls to cell phones are also priced at higher rates.

From internet cafés, it is also usually possible to make long distance international calls. Like in other countries, telephone booths have almost disappeared, though some are still found around public transport stations, where you can use a few coins to make calls. It is only recommended for local calls.

The cellular phone network in the Netherlands is GSM 900/1800. The main providers of cell phone networks are KPN (Dutch only), T-mobile and Vodafone, who cover the whole country. Other operators, like Hollandsnieuwe, Simyo or Tele2, use one of these 3 networks basically.

It is best to buy a SIM card when in the Netherlands for use in your cellphone, as this usually works out cheaper than using the one from home. If you are planning to study or work in the country and stay for several months, buying a cellphone is the best option. A simple one, sometimes with €10 worth on it, can be bought from around €25. The simplest smartphones are around €75.

Post

The rate for sending a postcard or letter up to 20 grams within the Netherlands is €0.64 (2014). Since 2010 there are stamps available for domestic post which no longer include the value in €. Instead, there are stamps available with either a '1' or a '2' as a substitute for value. The '1' can be used for letters and postcards up to 20 grams, while 20-50 grams require you to use the '2'-valued stamps (or two '1'-valued stamps of course).

Sending items to other EU countries and the rest of the world (there is one price since 2014) will cost €1.05. Stamps are sold at post offices, supermarkets and smaller shops/kiosks; often the place where you buy your postcards can also supply you with stamps.

Sending parcels abroad is more costly. A standard-sized parcel between up to 2 kilograms will cost you €9 for destinations within the EU and €18 (both without Track & Trace) to the rest of the world. Prices with Track & Trace start at €13 and €24.30 respectively. Parcel service is available from major post offices only; standard-size boxes are on sale there as well. For sending parcels, it might be just as competitive and fast to use a company like TNT, UPS or DHL.

If you need to receive mail while moving around, you can have it sent poste restante (to be called for) to a post office of your choice, where it will be kept for a month. If you come to claim it, bring a valid ID, and make sure to have told the sender that the name on the envelope must be an exact match with that in your passport. For addresses of post offices, as well as more information, consult the TNT website.

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This is version 4. Last edited at 10:19 on May 14, 19 by Utrecht. 2 articles link to this page.

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