We travel back to the year 806.
Near a tree by a river an Anglosaxon monk turns his head to look back at where he came from. His eyes follow a river meandering through green meadows. Parallel to that the dusty road he traveled. The landscape is beautiful, but that was not why he traveled that long.
The monk is tired, his feet hurt. Slowly turning back his head he now watches the river right in front of him. He watches the small settlement on the other side where people gather and trade.
He knows he needs to cross the river. Visions of a church are passing through his mind. His church. A church for him to build in order to continue his important work: to spread Christianity. And so he did.
His name was Lebuïnus and the small settlement he watched was called Deventer. He raised his wooden church as planned. Two hundred years later, on exactly that same spot, the wooden building was replaced by the first church of stone. It is still there and the impressive gothic tower nowadays is a true landmark of Deventer. After climbing the spiral stairs (220 steps) you have the best view of the river (IJssel) and the stunning landscapes. Guess you already know the name of the church…. Indeed, “Lebuïnus”.
Fancy to visit?
Deventer is my home town, one of the oldest towns in the Netherlands. Situated only 1 hour from Amsterdam, home to 98,000 people and famous for its spicy gingerbread (Deventer Koek)!
For first-timers it might look like a laid-back, rural city. To some extent it is, but beware that earlier inhabitants were notorious for an act that some of you might find a bit creepy….
But let’s keep that for later on. We start with getting you all into that laid-back, rural feeling. When you walk the mediaeval city centre of Deventer, you switch between past and present. It is a web of winding cobblestone streets, all ending (or starting if you want to) on the main square (De Brink). You will discover small alleys where suddenly the buzz of the main square mutes. For a moment you drown in history, quickly emersing again when you return to the busy square.
Some call Deventer a miniture version of Amsterdam. A fun thing to do is to wander the small alleys and look for remarkable, dedicated shops. Like this one for brooms! Have you ever shopped for brooms like this? Believe it or not, we are proud to have them.
I almost forgot…that creepy tradition. In the past, Deventer was not a fun place to be for criminals, especially those who counterfeited money. Not because we threw them in jail, but even worse, we boiled them in oil. Alive….poor counterfeiters.
I am not kidding, just look at this cettle. This cettle was used to boil people! The sign below the cettle is in Dutch but explains it all. That horrible thing is on display for everyone to watch, bit sinister don’t you think? Still fancy visiting our town??
Sure you do! Deventer is an easy daytrip if you are in Amsterdam. We would love to see you here! To convince you even more, here some facts and figures of interesting things you probably did not know before:
1. Bridge Too Far (for movie freaks!)
Do you remember ‘A Bridge Too Far’, the Second World War movie? The bridge you saw on the second picture in this post played an important role. All the scenes on the Bridge were shot in Deventer.
2. Largest European open-air book
In August you can buy books. The largest European (open-air) book fair takes place in the town centre and along the banks of the river IJssel: 6 kilometers of books.
3. Dickens, back in time Victorian style.
End of December Deventer takes you back in time, in Dickens style. The oldest streets and alleys are dressed up in Victorian Style, including many people playing a Dickens tale. The event attracts around 135,000 visitors in just two days!
Deventer the Netherlands
This is the story of my home town. Hope to see you there soon!
“Everywhere is Illuminated” is a great post by modern-mythologist Mark Robertson of The Panamericans. His post talks about having the right kind of wanderlust and, more importantly, that going local sometimes beats the next checklist of Lonely Planet. Find the mythic, historical, and scandalous history of your place.