Arnhem Nijmegen: an alternative view of Holland
Date Posted: 07/12/2011
With a historic past dating back to Roman rule and World War Two, the Dutch region of Arnhem Nijmegen offers something completely different for group travel organisers seeking an alternative view of The Netherlands.
The Dutch region of Arnhem Nijmegen is an inspirational alternative to Holland’s popular city break destinations of Amsterdam or Rotterdam. With its historic past and a host of visitor attractions, Arnhem Nijmegen offers something completely different for groups planning a trip to The Netherlands, and could be included as part of a longer itinerary or as a one-off short-break destination.
Only 20 minutes apart, Arnhem and Nijmegen are at the heart of a distinctive area in The Netherlands. Two different towns complementing each other perfectly, it’s past dates back to the period of Roman rule in Nijmegen and ends at a bridge too far in Arnhem and the new Airborne Experience in Oosterbeek. The region’s major attractions, events and picturesque countryside promise an unforgettable group experience.
The Arnhem Nijmegen region is characterised by its enormous diversity of landscapes, combining the best the country has to offer in the field of natural beauty. The rolling landscape of Nationaal Park Veluwezoom, the first National Park in The Netherlands, offers something to suit all tastes, with its large forests, heaths, former drifting sand areas and magnificent country estates.
The towns of Arnhem and Nijmegen are located at the heart of the region. Looking back to its past, all major eras are well represented. In the period of Roman rule the area used to be far and away the most important region in the country; as well as providing the setting for one of World War Two’s most infamous conflicts - the Battle of Arnhem. The Arnhem Nijmegen area boasts an enormous cultural diversity, with its rich history reflected in the many places of interest, museums and visitor attractions.
One of the best ways for visiting groups to discover the highlights of Arnhem or Nijmegen is to embark on a tour with a guide. During this town walk, the guide will take you to the most beautiful spots of Arnhem or Nijmegen. Each tour takes approximately one and a half hours.
Arnhem is a bustling town where your group will never get bored. Whatever your interests - shopping, going out, culture or the countryside - Arnhem delivers. The town is the capital of the province of Gelderland, and offers a rich and eventful past, partly preserved in a number of historic buildings such as the Maarten van Rossemhuis, Sabelpoort and Presickhaeffs Huys.
The history of the town is reflected in its centre, as well as in the 100-year-old Sonsbeek park, with a skyline dominated by the church of Eusebius. This late Gothic basilica boasts a glass lift, rising to 73-metres, offering a view down to the attractive shopping centre. The town also features a wide and varied range of museums, with focuses on art, water, wine and history. Situated in green surroundings, the town is contained by the Veluwe and the river foreland area.
Top visitor attractions
1. Dutch Open Air Museum: Experience history in The Dutch Open Air Museum. Special encounters, smells, images and stories reflect everyday life as it used to be. The friendly ‘occupants’ of the historic properties and farmhouses in the national museum park, will also share details about their lives and work.
2. Netherlands Water Museum: Offers permanent exhibitions featuring over 50 interactive presentations, enabling visiting groups to learn all there is to know about water.
3. De Hoge Veluwe National Park: De Hoge Veluwe National Park is the largest actively-managed private conservation area in The Netherlands. The park covers 5,400 hectares of woodland, heathland, peat bogs and drift sand. It is home to a wide variety of plants and animals, provides habitats to extremely rare Red List species. Together with the country-residence Museum Jachthuis Sint Hubertus, Visitor Centre Museonder, Kröller-Müller Museum and the Sculpture Garden, the park forms a nationally renowned combination of nature, art and architecture.
4. Kröller-Müller Museum: Recognised for its key collection of paintings by Vincent van Gogh. Other famous names on display include Picasso, Mondriaan, Seurat and Signac. The Kröller-Müller Museum is one of the largest in Europe, with the 25-hectare museum statue garden boasting more than 150 sculptures.
5. Airborne Museum ‘Hartenstein’: This unique museum on the Battle of Arnhem in September 1944, housed in the impressive 19th century Villa Hartenstein (former headquarters of the British command during the battle) offers an exciting view on World War Two history. Bringing to life the stories of British, Polish and German soldiers, as well as those of civilians who lived in agony, the museum exhibits large collections of authentic weaponry, documents, films and pictures. It’s a truly gripping experience where the war comes very close.
Visit Nijmegen and project your mind into the past of the oldest town in The Netherlands. No other Dutch town can boast such rich history, preserved in beautiful historic buildings, parks and museums. In Valkhof, the Romans used to gaze far across the river Waal and the land of the Batavians; while Waalkade commands a great view of one of Europe’s busiest rivers.
In Nijmegen and its surrounding area groups can enjoy the best Holland has to offer in terms of scenic beauty. Contained between the rivers Maas and Waal, Ooijpolder and Dufflet nature reserves each have their own charm. The history of Nijmegen, a former imperial town, is preserved and cherished in historic buildings, parks and museums, and can be experienced in Het Valkhof Museum, which includes an important collection of Roman archaeology.
The town and its surrounding area is ideally suited for walkers, cyclists and runners alike. One event highlight is the annual International Four-Day Marches - reportedly the largest walking event in the world, drawing participants from all over the globe. Every year the concurrent festivities attract over one million visitors, who enjoy the many concerts on dozens of stages across the town. The unique atmosphere during these events is well worth sampling.
Top visitor attractions
1. Afrika Museum: Discover Africa in the village of Berg and Dal and acquaint yourself with African art and culture through beautiful exhibitions. Walk around residential areas from various African countries in the magnificently situated open-air museum, which focuses on architecture.
2. Museum Het Valkhof: The most beautiful Roman finds in The Netherlands, a colourful collection of contemporary art and magnificent collection of ancient art. Groups can learn all there is to know about the Roman army and how people used to live in the largest Roman town in The Netherlands.
3. National Liberation Museum 1944 - 1945: Experience freedom! The past is brought back to life in the National Liberation Museum 1944 -1945, set in one of the most beautiful locations in The Netherlands, between hills and woods. In the museum you will experience the build-up to the war and the occupation years, celebrate the liberation and see the post-war reconstruction of Europe and The Netherlands.
4. Velorama National Bicycle Museum: Housed in a historic riverside building, this collection of bicycles and accessories is reportedly the most comprehensive in western Europe, offering a complete picture of the development of the bicycle.
The Liberation Route, Arnhem Nijmegen
The Liberation Route follows the path that the Allies took in their attempt to liberate Europe during World War Two. It starts in Normandy and continues up through Nijmegen, Arnhem and the south of the Veluwe, on to Berlin. The Arnhem/Nijmegen/South Veluwe region played a very important role in the final stages of the war.
In September 1944, the Allies tried to liberate The Netherlands during Operation Market Garden. This was one of the largest airborne landings in history, which resulted in the liberation of Nijmegen. Yet the operation was not a total success. The Allies tried to defend their position at Arnhem, but failed. The winter that followed was a terrible one for a lot of The Netherlands, including the Veluwe.
Then in February 1945, in the final push for freedom, Operation Veritable was launched from the Arnhem/Nijmegen/South Veluwe region. It was the start of the great Rhineland Offensive; a battle to rank alongside Stalingrad, Normandy and Berlin. It was to be unpredictable, full of the contradictions of war.
The Liberation Route enables groups to experience what happened in and around Arnhem, Nijmegen and the Veluwe. There are 49 boulders at various locations throughout the region - the so-called listening locations - where group members can hear moving stories about the people who lived and fought there during 1944 and 1945.