Nijmegen (pronounced nine megan) is the oldest city in the Netherlands and is located just a short distance from the German border. It was the first city to fall to the Germans in WWII due to its proximity. In September 1944, resistance troops from Nijmegen were an integral part of Operation Market Garden, the main objective was to prevent the Germans from destroying the bridges so the Allies could invade. Nijmegen is also one of the warmest cities in the Netherlands and believe it or not, some of the northernmost wineries in the world are found just outside the city.
But you didn’t decide to read this blog for the history or weather, did you? So, what’s the deal – why should I visit Nijmegen? Well that really depends on what your interests are but here are some highlights we enjoyed. If history is your thing, the Valkhof Museum offers Nijmegen from Roman times to the present. On my visit, I decided I’d go another route. On my list was Grote (Great) market; St. Stevenskerk and bell tower, and of course the Brouwer café (brew put) De Hemel. And if you need the famous pot licker, this is the place to get one!
Let’s start with the main square, or the Grote Market. Nothing really to see inside the buildings but they are wonderful to admire from the outside. I personally love a city stroll, you can absorb the feel for the town by wandering the streets and admiring the architecture.
Next up is St. Stevenskerk (church)with its beautiful organs. St. Stevenskerk, located in the historical city center, was built in the 13th century with additions through the 15th century. It was hit by bombs during WWII, destroying a large portion of the church. Thankfully, it was restored in 1969. When you visit, be sure to check out the monument to Catherine of Bourbon, candelabra, organs and frescos all which date from the 16th, to the 18th century. Did you catch that I said check out the organs? St. Stevenskerk has 4 of them, but the one of interest was built by Ludwig Konig. There are only a few of his organs still left to enjoy. Organ and music enthusiasts will love its unique sound.
Once you have visited inside, spend the few extra Euro’s and climb the bell tower for a fantastic view of the city from the top. It is a twisty little climb but so worth it. There is a gentleman from town at the top who is full of amazing little facts about the church, the town, and the bell tower. Be artistic and take a picture of the big clock from the tower. This exercise is well worth your time and effort!
Well, you’ve climbed and now you need a little pick me upper, right? If so, head over to De Hemel Brouwery (brewery). Located in a medieval monastery building just a short walk from the church, you will find De Hemel. It is a restaurant, home brewery, home distillery and even a home roastery. Something for everyone in your party for sure. Upstairs you’ll even find a little chocolate shop (open on certain days/times). Our little gang tried the beer sampler – again something for every taste – and it was well worth it. There is a lovely little patio of the weather is nice but inside you’ll find all sorts of quirky things….so go inside for sure!
You’ve spent the day in Nijmegen and it’s time to be going but wait…..you need that pot licker right? Never heard of a pot licker, well I’m about to turn you on to THE most useful kitchen tool ever. Stop in at the Hema in town (yes, I know you can shop online but its way more fun to visit in person) – go upstairs (same floor as the bathrooms) and look for these handy little gadgets. They are like 1.75 Euro a piece (way cheap) and they work wonders to “lick” the pots clean. Think peanut butter jars here…they are like mini squeegee’s. We bought every last one of them they day we visited and so glad we did. The following day we saw the exact same items for 5 Euros each…bargain hunting is my game! And even if you don’t have to rid yourself of a little beer by this time, check out the sign for the bathrooms…worth a good laugh.
Keep traveling….the world is a wonderful place to explore!