Wednesday, April 24, 2013

A trip to Nijmegen, the Netherlands

Exactly three years ago today, I was visiting the Netherlands on a work-related trip, but also to visit with my Dutch colleagues with whom I've developed a great friendships after collaborating together for many years.  Although I was away from my family for several days, I was able to stay with the families of my friends, and they treated me with great Dutch hospitality and gave me a nice tour.   These same friends have stayed with my  wife and daughter and me in our house when they've come to visit the U.S., so it's been really wonderful to have friends in another place with which you would otherwise be unfamiliar.  

The place I visited first is the city of Nijmegen and the adjacent small town of Wijchen (one of my friends and his wife and kids live in Wijchen), which is in the eastern part of the country near the German border.  Like many of the cities in Europe, Nijmegen is loaded with history, having been a fortified outpost (in hostile territory) of the Roman Empire many years ago.   I found both Nijmegen and Wijchen to be very charming, so I just thought I'd post some photos showing some of the beautiful buildings and points of interest one can see while visiting Nijmegen (I'll save Wijchen for another post later).

The oldest part of Nijmegen is Valkhof Hill, an ancient citadel overlooking the Waal River that has ruins still visible.  Valkhof started out as a Roman camp and was built up with further fortifications over the years through the medieval times.   

Visible bricks are Roman fortification ruins, Valkhof Hill, Nijmegen
View of Waal River from Valkhof Hill

This is an octagonal chapel on Valkhof Hill that was built around the year 1000 out of bricks from an earlier fort from the time of Charlemagne in the 700's and 800's, so they call it the Carolingian chapel.  

Carolingian chapel, Valkhof Hill, Nijmegen

Me at the Carolingian chapel, Nijmegen

There is also a ruin that is a small remainder of the emperor Barbarossa's chapel that was  built in 1155 but demolished in the late 1700's; the columns in it were older ones incorporated from Charlemagne's time. 

Ruins of Barbarossa castle chapel from 1155 A.D.

Valkhof Hill, ruins of Barbarossa chapel in background

This is St. Stevenskerk (St. Stephen's church) in Nijmegen, which dates back to the 1200's, but was added onto over the years and partially destroyed then rebuilt at various times throughout history.  

St. Stevenskerk steeple
Gothic St. Stevenskerk, Nijmegen

Gothic architecture, St. Stevenskerk, Nijmegen

St. Stevenskerk

This is a classical Dutch merchant house called Besiendershuis from I think the 1500's, which now serves as an art gallery. 

Besiendershuis (1500's), now an art gallery
Beautiful spiral staircase, Besiendershuis
Balcony inside Besiendershuis

Under the spiral staircase, Besiendershuis

Finally, I got some shots of historical buildings in downtown Nijmegen, in the marketplace/plaza near St. Stevenskerk, just before nightfall.

Waagebouw (weighing house from 1600's)

Nijmegen marketplace near St. Stevenskerk

Kerkboog arch Nijmegen marketplace



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