If even professional smuggler Maarten van Rossem can be enthusiastic about Zutphen in his way, this requires deeper research and personal experience. VRIE went to the Hanseatic city and went on audio tour.
After his visit, Maarten van Rossem called Zutphen a quiet city that he understood people wanted to live there. Time to discover for yourself! Includes wireless headphones that not only deliver the sound, but also protect the ears from the cold of the day: 3 degrees and a strong wind.
The audio tour is becoming an increasingly popular way of discovering cities. In times of corona it is ideal: no groups of people or guide, just press play and go. Patrick Dorrestein of Hanzetour.com and his team put together a number of Hanseatic cities during the Corona period. As an option in addition to the already existing guided city walks, but the audio tours with accompanying QR codes prove to be an outcome in these times of limitation.
In fact, Dorrestein expects it to be the new standard. He is already busy putting a virtual Hanzetour in the scaffolding so you can click from home from city to city.
In almost four kilometers and 27 stops, the voice of resident and writer Sanne Terlouw leads us through Zutphens almost 50,000 inhabitants. Starting at the Broederenkerk. This 14th century monastery church, known as one of the best preserved monastery churches in the Netherlands, is almost not to be missed if you enter the city from the station. The public library which is now housed is closed at the time of this visit, but is recommended from all sides. The building is impressive and is just one of the interesting old buildings we are going to encounter.
The second is the Wijnhuitower. A 14th-century tower of the guild of wine merchants with the first pure tuned chimes in the world, so sounds through the headphones. The tower is a historical highlight on several levels. For example, before 1326 there was an inn and the construction of the basement is even older, around 1300. Anno 2021 it is the location of an Italian restaurant that can definitely be visited on the list as soon as the historic doors are open again.
Behind it, another tower beeps — Church Path is nothing to do — and that of the Walburgiskerk from 1046. To scatter with more years: it is the entrance to the Librije from 1564, the oldest public reading room in the Netherlands. By making people read good books, so was the conviction, they continued to adhere to the Catholic doctrine. There are still carefully preserved unique books from the first period of printing to be admired.
Who thinks that Zutphen has only old churches and towers: the interesting thing about the city, according to the books, is the contrast between old and new. The shopping streets between the churches, the old (re) houses painted in contemporary or striking tones as mustard yellow. That mix makes sure that there is a lot to see, we notice during the trip.
In addition to the rich Hanseatic history, you can detect the anthroposophical influence in Zutphen, with one of the largest anthroposophical communities in the Netherlands and the largest secondary free school in Europe. It is estimated that a quarter of the inhabitants call themselves anthroposoph or feel related to the thought. This can be seen in the (for example clothing and books) shops, on signs and in the public space.
Also along the route we find the necessary poems on the white walls like that of J.C. Bloem in the Bakkerstraat: “I didnt expect anything from life, the happiness is not to be traced. What does it give? In the cold spring night the immortal nightingales sing”, there is to be read. Appropriate in todays quiet streets.
We also regularly encounter art such as the image of the sun-worshipping, naked woman in the accidentally walked in and deviated from the audio tour route (oops!) Old Bornhof. The maker is a Zutphense, Maïté Duval.
The statue stood in front of the Chamber of Commerce for a long time. In the courtyard it surprises and its just such surprises that make Zutphen so much fun. Yes, there is a wealth of history to be found, because we havent even talked about the old town hall (more photogenic than the architecturally striking new town hall, although tastes will differ), the city gate Drogenapstoren (1444) and the Nieuwstadskerk (a hall church dating from 1272). But we had already illuminated enough churches? Moreover, we are not going to reveal all the points of the audio tour: put it on your list if we can get back on it again.
Rich history at Armenhage
What can certainly be mentioned is Armenhage. Tucked away in a picturesque street, two towers suddenly emerge. Well preserved and as if they were completely natural in theenvironment, while they are already thousands of years old. Second half of the 13th century, to be exact.
In the 16th century, poor houses were built against the medieval city wall, hence the name Armenhage. These were demolished at the beginning of the 20th century and what remains are the towers and part of the five-metre-high city wall that was designed to protect the proud city from scum.
The street ends with the Berkelruin on the other side: a rusty brown stone memory that stands out sharply against the yellow of the apartments built next door. In the quiescent Zutphen (free after Maarten van Rossem) history blends seamlessly with new architecture. Above all, put on the headphones to come to your own judgement.
You get there
In an hour and a quarter of an hour (about 90 kilometers) you drive from Utrecht to Zutphen by car. From the station you can walk right into the old town.
More information: hanzetour.com, visitoost.nl.