The Loonse en Drunense Duinen (Loonse and Drunense Dunes) is a national park situated in the south of the Netherlands, between the cities of Tilburg, Waalwijk & 's-Hertogenbosch. It has been designated as a national park since 2002.
The so-called Brabant Sahara consists of some 30 square kilometers of shifting sands and is one of Holland’s largest natural areas and the largest sand drift area in western Europe, these dunes formed around 10,000 years ago. The dunes in this national park are unique and not to be found anywhere else in North Western Europe. Its sands are always moving.
When my Argentinian friend Alejandro visited me in Tilburg, we went to the beautiful village of Heusden in the South of the Netherlands. The history of this charming little fortified town is littered with plundering, war and conquerors.
The settlement of Heusden on the river Maas started with the construction of a fortification to replace the castle destroyed by the Duke of Brabant in 1202. At the beginning of the Eighty Years War (1568-1648), Heusden was occupied by the Spanish. In 1577, however, following the Pacification of Ghent, the people of Heusden allied with William, Prince of Orange. William consolidated the town's strategic position near the river Meuse, and ordered fortification works to be constructed. Work started in 1579 and was completed in 1597.
By the early nineteenth century, the defence works fell into disrepair and were dismantled. In 1968, however, extensive restoration works started, and fortifications were carefully rebuilt, based on and inspired by a 1649 map of the city of Heusden.
's-Hertogenbosch, literally "The Duke's Forest" in English is a city in the southern Netherlands. It is the capital of the province of North Brabant. Duke Henry I, Duke of Brabant, founded a new town located on some forested dunes in the middle of a marsh. He granted 's-Hertogenbosch city rights and the corresponding trade privileges in 1185.
's-Hertogenbosch was founded as a fortified city and that heritage can still be seen today. The old city of 's-Hertogenbosch is still almost completely surrounded by continuous ramparts. On the south side, this wall still borders on an old polder, kept intact as a nature reserve.
Hidden below the old city is a canal network called the Binnendieze that once spanned 22 km (14 mi). It started out as a regular river, the Dommel, running through the city in medieval times but due to lack of space in the city, people started building their houses and roads over the river. In later times it functioned as a sewer and fell into disrepair.
's-Hertogenbosch is also home to Saint John's Cathedral (Sint Jan), which dates from 1220 and is best known for its Brabantine Gothic design and the many sculptures of craftsmen that are sitting on almost every arc and rim along the outside of the cathedral.
Four days before my six months leave for Latin America, my friend Joost and I spend a day in Amsterdam. Usually I only go to Amsterdam when I need to board a plane on Schiphol Airport, although I worked in Amsterdam in for a couple of months 2007, Since I am a Dutchman from the South (and proud of the South!) I never really got the point why all tourists are mainly interested in Amsterdam when visiting the Netherlands. (Note for backpackers: coffeeshops can be found in most cities in the country!)
For sure is a beautiful city. The canals are picture-perfect and make a great area for strolling around. The Rijksmuseum is supposed to have a great collection of art. The Vondelpark is a great city-park to chill out and the famous red-light district becomes like an adult theme park at night.
When asked for advice, I would definitely recommend travellers to the Netherlands to stay in the city of Amsterdam for a (few) day(s). But please be aware that a country is more then just one city. Do like few tourists do and go off the beaten track and visit some other places in the Netherlands as well. You will be surprised about the beautiful cities and villages my country has to offer.
My hometown Tilburg is known for its 10-day-long funfair, the largest in the Benelux, held in July each year. The funfair boasts some 250 attractions and rides ranging from rollercoasters and catapults to bumper cars spread across 4.5 kilometres in the city centre. Every year over 1.5 million people visit the fair, making it the most popular event in the Netherlands. The monday during the funfair is called Pink Monday and is one of the biggest gay and emancipation events in the Netherlands.
My hometown Tilburg is located in the southern province of Noord-Brabant. With a population of over 200,000, it is the second largest city of Noord-Brabant, and the sixth largest city of the Netherlands.
Tilburg already existed in the late medieval period In 1809, Louis Napoleon gave Tilburg city rights, after centuries of neglecting by the Dutch politics due to the catholic background of the city. However, the King William II, had found his nice place in Tilburg, and gave the mission to build a palace. Sadly, three weeks before completion in 1849, William II died. The palace is still standing and the city started to grow during the Industrial Revolution, when wool factories were set up.
I moved to Tilburg to study at Tilburg University in 2007. Though Tilburg might not be as charming as nearby 's Hertogenbosch or Breda, it certainly has its own identity and atmosphere. Following pictures were taken on a snowy day in winter 2009 near City Hall (former palace of King William II), Heuvelplein, Piusplein and the Oude Markt.