Oudewater

Travel Guide Europe Netherlands Utrecht Oudewater

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Introduction

Oudewater is a small city in the province of Utrecht, the Netherlands. The origin of the town of Oudewater is obscure and no information has been found concerning the first settlement of citizens. It is also difficult to recover the name of Oudewater. One explanation is that the name is a corruption of old water-meadow. Oudewater was an important border city between Holland and Utrecht. Oudewater (lit. "Old water") was of great strategic importance. The town was granted city rights in 1265 by Hendrik van Vianden, the bishop of Utrecht.

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Sights and Activities

There are about 120 registered monuments in the city, and most can be found in the center, on the market square and in the surrounding streets. Wandering around is one of the main attractions, as there's something cosy an historic about this places. For that reason, Oudewater was the filming location for several popular Dutch tv shows, including Swiebertje, a Dutch children's book series brought on screen in the 1960s. The series ran for over 10 years and was highly popular. A statue of the vagabond Swiebertje can be seen close to the Visbrug.

If you're interested in the town's museums, consider purchasing a Tourist Card at the tourist information point (€7,50/2,50 for adults/children) It gives access to the Waag and the Rope Museum and comes with a nice booklet, containing a city walk and information on the town.

Oudewater is famous for the Heksenwaag (Witches' scales). This Weighing house, an official town building, became famous during the 16th century because people accused of witchcraft were offered an honest chance of proving their innocence. In many cities and countries such trials were usually rigged, resulting in the burning or drowning of hundreds of innocent people.

Many people accused of witchcraft from all over Europe (or at least, those who could afford the trip) made a head-over-heels trip to Oudewater to avoid being burned at a stake. After the weighing, they received an official certificate proclaiming them not a witch. Although nobody was ever found to be an actual witch in Oudewater, the weighings were still a public spectacle. Even today you can get a certificate that "your body weight is in proportion to your build." The reasoning behind this is the old belief that a witch has no soul and therefore weighs significantly less than an ordinary person; this distinction allows the witch to fly on a broomstick.

So in medieval times when accusations of witchcraft (and resultant burnings) were prevalent, the town of Oudewater offered the accused a chance of proving his or her innocence. This was more special than it sounds. It is a sign of the growing power of a third force next to church and nobility, i.e. citizens. In a bid for total domination, the witchhunts were sanctioned by the church to break the power of the local herb doctors (especially the females). The citizens of Oudewater therefore were, simply by being honest, defying the church.

The Waag is still open as a tourist attraction, and official certificates are available.

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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

The N228 passes right through Oudewater on its way from Utrecht to Gouda, and both cities are about a 20 minute drive away. Alternatively, take the A12 highway from Utrecht, and exit Nieuwerbrug. This route may be just a few minutes faster, depending on which part of Utrecht you're coming from, but it's also less scenic.

Situated in the middle of the so-called "Green Heart"-region, Oudewater makes an excellent biking destination. The village can be reached via roads and biking paths from several directions.

The nearest train stations are in Woerden, Utrecht and Gouda. From all those places, direct bus connections run to Oudewater. From Utrecht Central Station, take bus lines 107 or 207, leaving twice per hour from the Jaarbeurszijde. From Gouda, bus 107 leaves twice per hour too, in the opposite direction. From Woerden, buses 105 and 505 run to Oudewater every half hour.

Situated along the Hollandse IJssel, Oudewater is also a popular boating destination. The town has about 530 meters worth of mooring places for visitors, and they're free too.

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Getting Around

The town itself is small and getting around is best done on foot. If you're coming here by car, you'll find plenty of free parking facilities in and directly around the center. Biking is great way to see some of the surrounding rural areas and villages, but you'll need to bring your own bike or rent one in Utrecht or Gouda.

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Eat

The market square is the beating heart of the town, and when the weather allows, local establishments set up several outdoor terraces for food and drinks.

  • De Rendezvous Bontekoe, Wijdstraat 25, ☎ +31 348-564865. This casual place serves French inspired dishes. You can either opt to have them in the form of a normal menu, or as a tapas menu, for which the same (but more) dishes come in small portions. Mains from €20, tapas menu from €30.
  • Brasserie Joia, Havenstraat 1, ☎ +31 348 567 150. Nice bistro dishes. Vegetarian options are limited and waiting times between courses can be a bit on the long side, but all in all a popular place with many satisfied customers. €32.
  • Restaurant Abrona, Broeckerstraat 20. Part of the Hotel Abrona, the staff of this restaurant also consist in large parts of people with disabilities. The service is very friendly and enthusiastic and the food remarkably good. €28.

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Sleep

  • Hotel Abrona, Broeckerstraat 20, ☎ +31 348 567466. This cosy hotel is run by people with mental disabilities, offering them a chance to learn skills that might allow them to work in the regular hotel world. Rooms are simple but well-maintained and the staff is very friendly. The hotel has 24 double rooms, all with private bathrooms and free wifi. There's also an on-site restaurant and room rates include breakfast. €72/90 for a single/double.
  • Bed & Breakfast De Ruige Weide, Ruige Weide 9, ☎ +31 6 205 46 554. Out of town, this is a good place for those who have their own means of transport or care for a hike. It's a lovely, family-run place with gardens around. The rooms are modernly decorated and the whole thing is housed in a historic farm building. From €70/85 for a single/double.

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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 3. Last edited at 10:20 on May 14, 19 by Utrecht. 1 article links to this page.

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