If you are staying in Rotterdam, visiting the small town of Delft is a must. Located about ten minutes by train from Rotterdam, Delft is a city full of history, very different from its big neighbor. Here, no skyscrapers and large avenues, but a historic center with cobbled streets, brick walls, and canals, that give it some air of Amsterdam. In Delft, you find all the charm of the Netherlands, without the tourists!
Today, the city is an important University Centre, thanks to the Delft University of Technology, which welcomes students from all over the world, and makes of Delft a lively and vibrant city.
Delft is the birthplace of the famous painter Veermeer. It is therefore quite natural that you find a center dedicated to the artist in Delft, where you can learn more about his life and his works. Nevertheless, you will not find any original work of the master.
On the other hand, to discover the paintings of famous painters of the Dutch golden age, go to the Museum of the Prinsenhof. You will notice that one of the walls has two holes, memory of the impact of bullets that cost the life of William of Orange (1533-1584), father of the homeland of the Netherlands.
Delft is also known for its earthenware, inspired by Chinese porcelain. Back in the days, there were dozens of factories in the city. Today s only one remains, the Royal Delft that also houses a museum. You will learn all about the history of Delft porcelain, how it is made, and can even see the workers at work.
Wandering around the streets of Delft
It is nice to wander the streets of Delft, along the canals and old facades. You can discover Oostpoort a monumental gate, and last vestige of the ancient fortifications of the city. In the District of Koornmarkt you can have a look at the many vintage and design stores.
Then go to the market square, to see the beautiful city hall, but most importantly, the Nieuwe Kerk, and its tower of nearly 400 steps, for a nice view of all the surroundings. Inside the church, you can see the beautiful stained glass windows and learn more about the Orange family, whose descendants still reign over the Netherlands and are buried in this church. With the same ticket, you can also visit the Oude Kerk.
The Orange family in the Netherlands
Until the sixteenth century, the Netherlands (then forming the United Provinces, including part of Belgium) was under Spanish domination. With the rise of religious intolerance towards the Protestants, Prince William of Orange (1533-1584) rebelled against the Spanish crown in order to obtain the independence of the country. After years of war, he was murdered in Delft by a French Catholic.
Many centuries later, in 1815, after Napoleon’s French army was expelled from the country, the descendants of William the Taciturne established a monarchy in the country.
Since 2013, the king is Willem-Alexander. The monarchy is very popular in the Netherlands, and the national holiday is the date of the King’s birthday on the 27th of April.
Where to eat in Delft?
Delft is full of small restaurants, all more appetizing than others, as at Beestenmarkt square and its beautiful sunny terraces.
Nevertheless, I recommend the Stads Koffyhuis if you want to taste the best sandwiches in the Netherlands, and I do not exaggerate! Indeed, this restaurant participated in numerous competitions and has been awarded several times for its high-end sandwiches, with fresh and good quality ingredients. If the weather allows it, you can sit on a barge docked in front of the restaurant.
For a snack break, I recommend Uit de Kunst to taste a good Dutch Apple Pie “met slagroom” (“with whipped cream”), as always. In front, there is an old telephone booth with the works of a new artist every month, which makes it “the smallest Museum in the world”.