SAZ city guides are ten years old | The latest news from Zutphen and Warnsveld


ZUTPHEN – The Zutphen City Walks and Events Foundation, SAZ for short, is celebrating its 10th anniversary this month. The foundation of enthusiastic city guides, once established as an emergency measure, has since then shown tens of thousands of visitors to the most beautiful places in Zutphen.

By Emy Vesseur

The Byvandring og Arrangementsfonden (SAZ) turns ten years old on 29 November. The eleven associated city guides together with the guild’s city guides are responsible for around 90 percent of all city walks in Zutphen. This makes them the city’s calling card and an indispensable part of VVV’s program offering. Who are these enthusiasts and what drives them? “A club of people with knowledge of Zutphen’s history and architecture in their heads and hearts”, according to city guide and SAZ chairman Sietze Wierda.

Officially, SAZ has existed since 2012, but before that the city guides also provided guided tours to the then VVV/ANWB site on Stationsplein. Following the bankruptcy of the Achterhoek’s Bureau for Tourism, the office closed its doors in August 2012, leaving the city guides ‘out of a job’. ‘Ten city guides then took matters into their own hands and set up a fund, says Harry van Braak, who will be chairman of the fund until 2021. “By investing 50 euros each, we had a starting capital of 500 euros. This allowed us to build a website so that people could find us. And it worked.” Since the arrival of the Zutphen Promotion Foundation in 2015, the city guides also provide city walks to the tourist information center on the Houtmarkt. They do this together with the city guides from Gilde Zutphen. Van Braak: “In order not to compete with each other, the booked walks are shared equally. In on the even week by the guild and on the odd week by us and it works fine.”

Bite and step
The SAZ city guides provide group walks of 1.5 hours through the historic center of Zutphen. In addition, combinations are possible with a visit to Musea Zutphen, Walburgiskerk, a trip by electric boat or by bike, a lunch or coffee/tea with a snack. A popular event for company and family outings is ‘bites & steps’, where the guide takes the group to various catering locations in Zutphen. The group packages are ordered in advance via SAZ’s website or VVV. Wierda: “We have a permanent employee who arranges the route and makes the reservations. If a group is too large for a guide, we will split it up. In addition, there are the pedestrian walks that start Monday to Saturday at 2pm at the VVV in the summer and on Friday and Saturday in the winter.”

Van Braak has calculated that he has already given around four thousand guided tours for more than forty thousand people. He notices that the number of city walks has increased enormously in recent years. “Zutphen is really booming. People come from all over the country. You also see many Germans and sometimes Americans who have family ties here.” Wierda: “We therefore also provide guided tours in German or English on request. Not all guides do this as easily, but as you go, you get better and better at it.” The response from visitors is very enthusiastic across the board. Van Braak: “Many people are surprised that Zutphen is so beautiful, and a city walk is often an eye-opener for the residents themselves. Places they cycle by every day suddenly mean a lot more to them.” Wierda: “And then they often only saw highlights like Walburgiskerk, Burgerzaal, Bleek and Oude Bornhof. That’s why I always tell them to come back twice more for the rest.”

Trial run
The SAZ city guides are all enthusiastic volunteers with a heart for Zutphen, who delve into history on their own initiative. To this end, each city guide follows the Zutphenkunde course, which ends with an exam. Wierda: “Historical knowledge is important, but you have to be able to convey it in a fun way. Each new city guide is therefore evaluated during a test walk. You also have to be able to improvise well, because you have to deal with different groups and situations.” Are they ever nervous? Van Braak: “Not really. People are out and enjoying themselves. So you hardly have to deal with annoying people.” Wierda is always curious about the group he gets: “Especially with Happen & Staples, I like to know in advance so I can prepare a bit. One comes for entertainment and the other wants to learn something. You can feel it immediately, and you have to react to that.”

The city guide receives a fixed fee for each city tour. Wierda: “Just enough to replace your worn soles, but we don’t care. In the end, you do it out of love for the city.” Van Braak: “We are a foundation, so we do not earn anything. With part of the money, we sponsored the glass screen for the Zutphen 1485 model by Contant Willems, which will be placed in the Bourgonjetoren. It will be a new point on our route.” To celebrate the tenth anniversary, all guides have a copy of the book Zutphen 1572 from Johan Visser with a nice letter from the board. Wierda: “In this way, each guide is kept informed of new insights into history.”

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