Before I tell you more about Groningen Landmarks and architecture, here are some fast facts:
Groningen has 200.00 residents and the average age of it’s population is the lowest/youngest in the Netherlands. This has everything to do with the cities university and the 50.000 students that live in Groningen.
I loved the liveliness and young atmosphere when I lived in Groningen. I was in my twenties at the time and went dancing in nightclubs at least three times a week. In summer, the bar-terraces around the Grote Markt (big market square) were crowded till way after midnight. Live music in abundance everywhere.
Good times, folks, good times.
Ok, back to the Groningen of today. Referred to as a water-city, since it is surrounded by water. And by the beautiful province Groningen. (More about Groningen province in another article.)
Groningen city is great for biking, walking and shopping. You can even do water-biking and kayaking!
Groningen Landmarks and Architecture
The city’s main landmarks are:
- Groningen Museum (read my next blogpost about this cool museum)
- Martini church and tower. You can climb this tower, but be warned: it’s quite the climb!
- Grand Theatre (see picture above), a former cinema turned into a cultural center
- Vera, a club for the international pop underground.
I worked at Vera for four years. At the time it was a pop temple, as it is now, but also a youth center and a place to buy weed. I was hired as a youth worker, introducing the city to new students. Some of my colleagues were hired as house-dealers, manning the weed-store. Others were concert-organizers or sound- and light-technicians.
I never did drugs in my life; I don’t feel the need. But back then, many of my colleagues were smoking pot all the time. I remember meetings in which most of them were attending ‘under the influence’. They were very mellow (read: slow and passive), from time to time muttering a word: “Yeah…. Sure…. Groovy….What?…”.
- De Oosterpoort, the city’s main theater
- Main railway station
- Goudkantoor (Gold Office)
Anecdote: the synagoge lies smack in the middle of the city center. When I lived there, this was also the Red Light district of Groningen. Everyday, doing my groceries, I’d pass by several ‘women behind their windows’, waving at each other while exchanging hello‘s and good-day’s.
Architecturally it’s interesting that -apart from Amsterdam- no Dutch city has so many buildings from the gorgeous style period Amsterdam School (1910-1940).
Groningen also has it’s fair share of Art Nouveau or Jugenstil. (1890-1914). Another architectural period that I adore.
But the city’s history goes way back, so you also see buildings from e.g. the 17th or 18th century. Like houses with bell-gables.
And (ware-)houses with lifting beams.
So yes, there are many things to enjoy while walking through the streets of Groningen, especially for architecture buffs like myself.
Architectural misses – in my eyes
One thing that doesn’t impress me, is a lot of the new architecture next to pretty, old houses. Don’t get me wrong. I’m a very eclectic person with a broad taste for architecture. I like many styles and I also can appreciate exciting, bold experiments in which contemporary and historic architecture are mixed or being confronted with each other. A lot of what I saw in Groningen though, is just ugly and bad taste, in my opinion.
What do you think? Do you like these contemporary buildings and how they work in their environment, if you look at the examples in the collage above?
Anyhow, let’s forget about those misses quickly, shall we?! How about we shake off this ugliness by looking at pretty things. Here are some examples of architectural eye-candy in Groningen:
That’s all, folks. This concludes my tour along the landmarks and architecture of Groningen.
Anecdote: I took these pictures during a city trip in the winter of 2015. It was very cold, windy and we even had snow at one point. Not always the best light for photography. I hope it still gives a good impression of this great city.
What do you think of my anecdotes, my trips down memory lane? House-dealers as co-workers, prostitutes as neighbors, living in a commune…(oh, the numerous other stories I could tell you, and maybe will tell you one day…) ….quite atypical for a square like myself, right?!