I remember being inexplicably excited the night before my first-ever visit to Delft. I was 13 years old and we had been told we would be seeing beautifully stained-glass windows in two very old, very large churches — that may have been the reason — or it may have been the promise of an afternoon on the beach that would follow. (Delft is only 15 kilometres from the North Sea.) Whatever the reason, this small medieval town has stood out in my mind ever since as one of the prettiest I have ever seen.
When I made a return visit many years later, I was disappointed by the torrents of rain that spoiled my day. Wanting to redeem that rainy day ever since, I finally got the chance last week. The weather was spectacular, and Delft was as beautiful and charming as I remembered.
Here, take a look.
One curious sight I definitely did not see on either of my previous visits was the stairway where Willem the Silent, Prince of Orange and founder of the House of Orange-Nassau, was assassinated in 1584. It happened here, in the Prinsenhof (Prince’s Court) — originally a convent, then Willem’s home, and now a museum.
And here are the bullet holes on the wall beside where he was shot.
Willem of Orange was buried in this magnificent mausoleum in the Nieuwe Kerk (New Church), beneath which members of the Dutch Royal Family have been laid to rest ever since.
Besides its association with the Dutch Royal Family, another of Delft’s claim to fame is its Delfts Blauw (Delft Blue) pottery. Dutch potters adopted the blue patterns from the China porcelain brought back to the Netherlands by Dutch traders in the seventeenth century. Only one factory, the Royal Delft, remains from the many in existence during the peak of production, but it has been in continuous operation since 1653. You can tour the factory and, if you have money burning a hole in your wallet, the many shops that surround the Grote Markt (Great Market) will be happy to take it off your hands in return for some exquisite pottery.
And here’s a tip from me: if you only have time for one day trip outside of Amsterdam, make it Delft.