When you say Friesland, you probably immediately think of Elfstedentocht, the Wadden Islands, the landscape or nature. Less often you think of culture. But a weekend in Leeuwarden proves the opposite: Friesland is full of cultural hotspots.
With its own language and unique traditions, Friesland has always been the quirk in our country, in the right way. The capital of the province is the pleasant city of Leeuwarden. Leeuwarden was crowned as European Capital of Culture in 2018, only Amsterdam and Rotterdam have already done so. Four years later, the city still lives up to that title.
Culture is something you always find in museums in the first place. The Frisian Museum is the largest museum in Leeuwarden, and with expansion also in the whole province. When the museum moved to the new building on Wilhelminaplein in 2013, there was some tumult among locals. The prominent building is anything but subtle, and it did not immediately drive them insane. In the meantime, the inhabitants of Leeuwarden have become accustomed to the building, and it has grown into a top-class museum.
The first floor is completely dedicated to Frisian culture, history and language. Objects from different eras are arranged crosswise. This way you will learn all about this stubborn province in a dynamic and random way. A beef bone, for example, will teach you that more than 1000 years ago, the Frisians used skates to move around on the ice, a tradition that is still cherished today.
From Queen Mother to Ceramics
Another museum in the city is the Keramiek Princessehof Museum. The museum is located in the birthplace of the artist MC Escher. Years earlier, Maria Louise van Hessen-Kassel, Princess of Orange-Nassau, lived in this city palace. Or better explained, the Queen Mother of all Europe. It is actually directly connected to all the royal houses in Europe. After a visit to this museum you will know all about the origins of pottery, the different styles, materials and techniques. The extremely interesting exhibition ‘Korea. The gate to a rich past‘can be visited until the end of August 2022. It is remarkable how much ancient Korean pottery can tell us about the modern pop culture of the region. For a visit to this museum, read a lot and especially do not bump into anything, not quite child certificate So.
Friesland, photo: milyagueva via Pixabay
Culture and history are also embedded in a city’s buildings, and it is no different in Leeuwarden. It’s amazing to see how old buildings get a second (or third or fourth) life. So you can sleep in the old post office. Long before that, the Post-Plaza was even a Gothic monastery whose beautiful wooden structure has been preserved. Still, the impressive building had almost disappeared. When the city was occupied by the Germans during World War II, the basement of the post office served as a storage place for bombs. Because some brave Dutchmen replaced the bombs with wooden bombs, they saved the city from disaster. As a result, the beautiful building was fortunately preserved and has recently been used as a hospitable hotel.
Another example of a successful second life is De Blokhuispoort. Until 2007, the building served as a prison. In 2022, many different organizations and companies will find their home here, including restaurant Proefverlof. As an aperitif, the marinated oysters are highly recommended! With a ‘Chef’ menu ‘you can taste the best of the local and seasonal cuisine. Are you looking for a light lunch? So definitely stop by Stek. Here, too, the building is already in its second life. Before it became a cozy lunch address, the building served as a bridge keeper’s residence. You can completely relax on the terrace along the water!
From chicken restaurant to cocktail bar
A favorite restaurant in town is without a doubt Roast. The restaurant, located on the busy shopping street, originally started as a chicken restaurant. There is now nothing to notice – apart from the name and drawings on the wall. Be amazed at the choice of chef and sommelier. Eel obviously goes well with pickled cucumber and sushi sauce, it really does! If you have left a seat afterwards, you can go downstairs. In the basement of the restaurant you will find a cocktail bar with a spectacular menu.
Friesland Photo: Piet van de Wiel via Pixabay
If you want to experience the culture of Friesland beyond the sea air, plan your visit between May and August. From the 6th of May there will be a party all over Friesland! In a hundred days you will find more than fifty cultural activities throughout the province. Arcadia means landscape of paradise, and that is what the organization wants to achieve with these works of art. And it looks set to be spectacular; from walking with trees through the city, to works of art in the woods and a watchtower by the coast. The entire program and more information can be found at arcadia.frl.
Do you really want to get to know the city? Then follow a guided walk at A Guide to Leeuwarden. Free walks start at Oldehovetårnet and take place on Tuesdays, Wednesdays, Thursdays and Fridays at 13.30, Saturdays at 12:00 and 14:00 and on Sundays at 14.00 (street art tour). All info via aguidetoleeuwarden.nl.