Naarden is a small town surrounded by large 17th-century fortifications, among the best preserved in Europe. The typical star shaped form is a spectacular sight from the air and on a satellite picture. The town centre itself has kept its historic character.
Naarden is about 15 km east of Amsterdam in the Netherlands. Outside the fortifications, the town expanded southward, and merged into one urban area with Bussum.
In the 9th Century AD, at the time of the Vikings, a small town of fishermen and traders, called Naarden was first mentioned in documents. But it was not situated on the present location, as the original Naarden drowned.
During the 13th and 14th Centuries a couple of monstrous storms swept over Holland. Hundreds of thousands acres of land were washed away, and a giant inland sea was created : the Southern Sea (Zuiderzee). Like many others places the old town of Naarden, also heavily damaged during one of the many wars of the time, was abandoned and “given to the sea” in the year 1350.
Surprisingly swiftly the refugees created a complete new town, a couple of miles inland on higher ground. It rapidly became the regional capital, and a prosperous merchant town and centre of textile industry.
Being of strategic importance, Naarden suffered much more destruction and misery by war. Like in the beginning of the Dutch Eighty-Years-War of independence, in 1572, when an invading Spanish army on a punitive expedition burned it to the ground, and massacred most citizens. Women and children included.
A few years later the town was build up again, and gradually surrounded by an elaborate defense system to protect the eastern flank of Amsterdam.
The town saw much more fighting, but by miracle the old centre within the city walls has kept intact its unique 17th Century atmosphere. Today Naarden is one of the best preserved fortified towns in Europe, with its typical star shaped form a spectacular sight from the air and on a satellite picture.
One of the bastions is home to the Dutch Fortress Museum.
Naarden is easily reached by train: Naarden-Bussum station is 21 minutes from Amsterdam Central, and 31 minutes from Utrecht via Hilversum. The fortified town is about 20-30 minutes walk from the railway station (called Naarden-Bussum). Bus line 101, from Amstel Station in Amsterdam, stops at Koningin Wilhelmina laan, about 10 minutes walk from the old town.
Bus 110 connects Naarden with Weesp and Muiden.
You can cycle from the centre of Amsterdam to the centre of Naarden, at an easy pace, in about 2 hours. Most of the route has separate cycle lanes.
You can also rent a bicycle at the station in Weesp (15 minutes from Amsterdam Central), and cycle a round trip Weesp, Muiden and Naarden.
- Comenius Museum, Kloosterstraat 33, ☎ 035 - 694 30 45, . tu-su 12-17. The museum and final resting place of John Amos Comenius, a Czech teacher, educator and writer, who spent the last 14 years of his life in Amsterdam. He is often considered the father of modern education. €4-5.
Cycling in countryside near fortified Naarden
- Netherlands Fortress Museum  in one of the old forts.
- Boat-trips around the fortress.
- Climbing the bell tower of the gothic Saint Vitus Church.
- Bicycle Day Trip : Rent bike at railway station in Weesp. Cycle to Naarden along natural reserve Naardermeer, and visit other fortified towns Weesp and Muiden (with medieval castle). Marked bicycle-route Boerenlandroute (25 miles), available at tourist office VVV. There's also this link-page about bicycle day trips in the region. Bike rental at train station Naarden-Bussum is another option.
- Het Arsenaal, 1 Kooltjesbuurt, ☎ +31 (0)35 - 6949148 (fax: +31 (0)35 - 6940369), . One of the country's most prestigious restaurants, run by celebrity chef Paul Fagel
- Bonton, IJsselmeerweg, 3. 1411AA Naarden (The Netherlands) (Located at the NH Naarden), . 0700-2200. The restaurant is located in the heart of the Het Gooi zone, known as the garden of Amsterdam, in an exceptionally beautiful area very near the A1 motorway. The restaurant has parking places for 180 cars and has the capacity to serve 90 people. Our cuisine consists of typical Dutch dishes as well as international fare. You can enjoy the best wines from all over the world with your meal. As a starter we offer many soups as well as other typical Dutch dishes. As a main course for your meal we offer fresh fish. In addition, every palate will be pleased with our desserts. For the price of €25 you can enjoy a dinner in the Bonton with spectacular views. You can also choose the option in which we serve you three surprise dishes of the most typical Dutch cuisine for only €32.50. €25.
- NH Naarden, IJsselmeerweg, 3 1411AA Naarden (The Netherlands), ☎ +31.35.6951514, . The hotel is located in the heart of the Het Gooi region, known as the garden of Amsterdam in an exceptionally beautiful area, with areas to play golf and also cycle. It is located very close to the A1 motorway €50.89.