In 15th century it was common in Europe to design cities in the shape of a star for its own security. Those were the times that renascence just recently began that cannons were already invented, and walls were not protecting the cities from outside attacks anymore. Bastion forts are designed as in and out layers which made it less prone to damage and easy to see the enemies from bird’s eye view and defend the city.
Bastion type fortification was suitable for low altitude countries such as the Netherlands particularly since it is convenient to dig waterlines around the fortification. Bastion forts are designed in the form of Pentagon and Hexagon, surrounded by many triangular bastions.
In the seventeenth century there were more than 90-star shaped towns in the Netherlands. Here is a complete list of these star-shaped forts. Today, four most popular bastion forts in the Netherlands are Naarden (Province of Holland), Willemstad (Province of Noord-Brabant), Middelburg and Fort Bourtange (Province of Groningen).
Naarden is one of the most beautiful bastion forts in the country, and having double walls makes it unique for Europe. What I really like about Naarden is that it looks like a typical bastion fort, as if it came out of a textbook.
Throughout the history, this fortified town had an important strategic position, it is close to two big city which are Amsterdam and Utrecht. Within that location, Naarden has been one of the three fortresses to guard the area from possible attacks. The other two fortresses are Weesp and Muiden.
The city Naarden has a longer history before, having fortified bastions which reach way back to the 13th century. There was a city surrounded by walls. However, the walls were seriously damaged during the 16th century during the Eighty Years Wars of Independence with Spanish.
After the demolition of seriously damaged wars, bastions were constructed around the town in the 17th century. During that time, Naarden was both economically and politically powerful. The French troops occupied the town for a while until 1673 when the Dutch nation took over the administration back. Those were around the same times when the fortifications were modified, new shells, walls and bastions were constructed and preserved until today.
Utrechtse Poort (Gate): The gate was constructed in 1680 and in 1877 it was transformed into the current gate. The building is decorated with guns of Naarden and double eagle. Between 1881 – 1939 there was a tram in Gooi region which provided service between the lines Naarden (gate), Amsterdam and Laren. Click for historical photographs of Utrechte poort.
Grote Kerk (Grand Church): In the middle of Naarden, there is a Gothic style church, constructed between 1380 and 1440 called Grote kerk of Sint Vituskerk. Saint Vitus is a protestant church since 1479, the church is square with having perfect geometric shape, and a beautiful tower in the length of 71 meters which was added afterward its construction.
Stadhuis (City Hall): This monumental building was constructed in 1601 which is a typical Dutch renaissance style building. There is an impressive hall inside the building where you can find the model of the fortress. The time is frozen inside, that the interior of the building is the same as the beginning of the 17th century. There are periodic exhibitions carried out in the city hall.
Het Spaanse Huis (The Spanish House): The Spanish House is one of the oldest buildings in Naarden, now it has transformed into a museum. The house was constructed as a chapel in the medieval times. Then it served as a city hall for a time until a new city hall was constructed on the Markt (Grand Plaza). Afterwards, the Spanish house transformed into a weight center where commercial items as butter, grains and wool was weighted. In 1809, the French occupied the city and used the building as a city council. Finally, the Spanish House served as a military bakery for some time before it turned into a museum.
De Gele Loods is a cute yellow woeden building in Raadhuisplein. There is an ideal place to start your itinerary in Naarden. Inside you can find VVV, the touristic information centre where you can get information about places to visit, lifestyle, history, and catering. The opening times are between 11:00 to 16:00 every day. Click here for more information.
The last time that Naarden played a role as a fortress was in World War I. Today, all the army buildings are abandoned by the military, serves as a museum welcoming its visitors. If you are interested in visiting the museums, click here to learn more about the practical information. If you are eager to learn more about fortified bastions, the Vestingmuseum is a perfect place to visit. If you are curious about facts and history of weighting and measuring Weegschaal Museum is an ideal place to visit.
City hall (Het Stadhuis) is open for visitors in the summer season (April to October). On Saturdays, Sundays and the holidays the opening times are between 11:00 to 17:00.
According to Tripadvisor the top 5 restaurants in Naarden are Lan Tin (Asian), Restaurant Acquavite (Italian), A-fusion (Asian), Lokaal (European, Italian) and Arsenal Restaurant (Dutch Seafood). Click here for more information.
According to Tripadvisor, the top 3 hotels in Naarden are Vesting Hotel, Design B&B Naarden-Vesting, and Room One-Twenty-One. Click here for more information.
Parking information: In Naarden there are a couple of free parking lots that are available inside and outside the fortress. Inside, Bastion Dortmensplain and Bastion Nieuw Molen are free of charge for parking.
Click here for more information regarding the things to do in Naarden. Click here to get further information about Naarden.