Welcome in my hometown Deventer! 1,5 hour from Amsterdam this historical city will surprise you. Let me show you my favorite spots and I’ll make sure you want to visit this charming, laid-back town. So when you are tired from chaotic Amsterdam, hop on a train east and visit Deventer.
Why should you visit you ask? Let me give you 4 convincing reasons to kick-off: (1) Deventer is one of the oldest cities in the Netherlands, situated beautifully along the river IJssel, (2) it has a great collection of heritage: historic architecture all over the place.
Other reasons are: (3) Deventer offers a laid-back atmosphere for drinking & dining, and (4) has an unexpected alternative scene that is getting stronger day by day (I’ll explain about the Urban Gorilla later on…).
Deventer is my hometown and I am proud of it. Walking the cobblestone alleys in the historical center I always feel good. Not overcrowded with tourists like Amsterdam, my city is a great alternative destination. But now let’s go and have a look at some of my favorite spots because that’s why you are reading this post, right?
The first of my favorite spots is a must for each visitor to Deventer. The Worp park on the other side of the river IJssel gives you that famous skyline view. There is a ferry boat landing and from here you have the best views on what I consider to be one of the best skylines in the Netherlands!
In the Worp park you will find The IJssel Hotel, not only a good place to stay for the night, but also to have lunch, high-tea or dinner. For only 1 Euro the cute little ferry near the hotel drops you off on the city side.
SPECIAL TIP: Don’t forget to visit this viewpoint at night: great long exposure photography possible!
And if you are there at night, why not shoot some industrial images like the nearby Wilhelmina bridge.
Did you know this bridge is actually quite famous amongst movie fans? Remember the classic 1977 movie a Bridge too Far? Most of the scenes where shot on this bridge. We had Sean Connery and Michael Caine running around in Deventer for quite a while! Check this link for a picture of the movie.
Next stop: the historical Bergkwartier. This part is centered around the Bergkerk, a church placed on a small hill that was built around the 12th century. Many years of restoration has made this area one of the main tourist attractions of Deventer.
A great spot is the intersection of 3 streets: Menstraat, Bergschild and Rijkmanstraat. There are some hidden spots around here that even Deventer residents don’t know of (too difficult to explain here, but I will show you when you are in town, don’t worry). The place not only has a great view but also gives access to a tiny alley (Kerksteeg) leading up to the Bergkerk.
A bit downhill (in the Rijkmanstraat) you can find which I think is the most beautiful house in Deventer. All the houses right next to it were bombed and destroyed in World War II….luckily this one survived.
SPECIAL TIP: Ask locals for the ‘Muntengang’ (Coin Alley) somewhere opposite this house. There is a small Coin Tower and this tower actually marks the place where in the 10th century coins were struck. Only very prosperous cities were allowed to strike coins in these days….lucky us!
By the way, do enter the Bergkerk. It’s not a church in function anymore. Nowadays it’s being used as concert hall, museum, exhibition venue, etc. Very diverse and if you are lucky you will bump into some kind of performance.
SPECIAL TIP: Look up the church bell tower to find a real canon ball! Reminder of our enemies during the Middle Ages so the story goes. Being prosperous meant that others continuously were trying to conquer us….But we persevered!
From the Bergkerk we walk down towards the Walstraat (Wall Street…). Authentic shops with vintage, art, antiques and jewelry shops. Regular street markets in mainly Spring and Summer time.
Time for a break! Let’s head to the center square called De Brink for a coffee and lunch. Here you can find dozens of great pubs and restaurants.
In summer time this Brink square is the place to be in the evening. In the middle of the square you can find our own leaning tower of Pisa: the Waag. The tower of this building really leans over quite a lot.
On our way to the Lebuïnus church
Energized? Let’s continue and walk from Brink square to the Lebuïnus church, situated at the Grote Kerkhof. This is the big church prominently present on the skyline pictures.
Going there, make sure to walk the small alleys Kleine Overstraat en Spijkerboorsteeg. Great for shopping: you will find some impressive specialty shops here. Take your time (and maybe get lost a bit?)
I am sure you will make lots of pictures of the massive church building. But try to find this window nearby with great church reflection opportunities!
Up you go! On Saturdays (May to September) and in school holidays (including summer holidays July and August) you can climb all the way up the bell tower of the Lebuïnus Church. It’s only 68 meters (223ft) and 220 stairs to take… Stairs are extremely narrow but the view is totally worth it!
Of course the interior on the ground floor is impressive too, if you don’t want to climb.
SPECIAL TIP: Go find the crypt that can be accessed from inside the church.
(Another) SPECIAL TIP: Opposite Lebuïnus you will for sure see the newly build Deventer City Hall. The architecture is remarkable: everywhere (inside as well as outside) you will find fingerprints of Deventer residents. If you can, do go inside!
Urban Discovery: Deventer Havenkwartier
Are you ready for something completely different? Away from historical buildings, churches and cobblestone alleys? Let’s go to the Deventer Havenkwartier. Slowly this industrial harbor area of Deventer is being transformed into a hip and trendy place, it’s awesome.
Already you can find art and design exhibitions at the Kunstenlab, get a tattoo at TangelArt, and the alternative Dok H2O bar offers music performances.
During summer time the Piknik bar (with our own Urban Gorilla on the roof watching over all of us) opens with bands and DJ’s in between a setting of old sea containers. They have been inspired by the alternative scene in Berlin so they told us.
Popular at the moment is the new FoodDock: an indoor area full of streetfood. Perfect industrial setting and great diversity of food!
SPECIAL TIP: And why not spend the night in this industrial, urban environment? Lucy in the Sky offers 3 micro-hotels: a double room with an extraordinary design and in an unusual place! The first one, Lucy Cube, is build on top of an old grain hopper at the harbor waterside.
Lucy GLXY is on top of another building: your own vessel for an intergalactic hike through the galaxy… Lucy Nomad (PWR) with its robust, urban design is now situated in between a new housing plot, but will probably end up in the water. Lucy in the Sky is open until 2019.
Deventer is one of the famous Hansa towns in the Eastern part of the Netherlands. Interested to visit more places like Deventer? Check this website and have a look at Zutphen, Zwolle, Kampen, etc. Also great overview of authentic accommodations.
Deventer is a feast for the photographer. Let me know when you plan to visit Deventer!
Care to travel to the Netherlands with your kids? Do read my article ‘My 5 favorite places in the Netherlands to explore with kids!
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