Laren is a village in the Gooi and Vecht region of North Holland. It is mainly known for its association with Laren School of painting, that flourished in the late 19th and early 20th century. It is beautifully located among the forests and heathlands of Het Gooi. Laren has approximately 11,000 inhabitants and is one of the richest municipalities in the Netherlands.
The area around Laren was already settled in the Late Neolithic Period, around 2,500 BC. Some grave mounds from that era can still be found on the nearby heathlands. Current Laren however was founded in the Middle Ages around the Sint Janskapel (Chapel of Saint John). Since this chapel was the main cemetery for the Gooi region, so-called doodwegen (funeral roads)were running straight to it from all directions. Some of these are still visible in the heathlands.
Laren is a typical example of a 'brink' village, with farms grouped around a central square, from where the farmers cultivated their lands and herded their sheep. Because of the predominance of sheep farming, Laren also had a substantial weaving industry.
In the late 19th century, a number of influential painters settled in Laren, and started to paint the surrounding area. Among them was Anton Mauve (1838-1888), the tutor of Vincent van Gogh.
'Return of the Flock', by Anton Mauve
Laren is on the A1 motorway, and can be reached from Amsterdam in approx. 40 min.
By public transport
The nearest train station is in Hilversum. From there, you can take either bus 108 or 109 to reach Laren. Travel time from Amsterdam Central Station approx. 50 min.
Cycling from Amsterdam is a 32km trip, taking approx. 2 hrs.
- Singer Museum, Oude Drift 1, ☎ +31 35 539 39 39 ([email protected]), . Tu-Su 11AM-5PM, Mo closed. The Singer modern art museum is based on the inheritance of the American art collector William Singer, who settled in Laren in 1901. The permanent collection contains many works from the so-called Laren School and other early 20th century Dutch painters and sculptors. The museum also houses a concert hall. Adults €15; age 13-18 €10; age < 13 free entrance; the sculpture garden can be entered free of charge. edit
- Geologisch Museum Hofland (Geological Museum), Hilversumseweg 51, ☎ +31 35 53 82 520 ([email protected]), . Tu-Su 1-4:30PM, Mo closed. A small museum and educational centre dedicated to the geology and prehistory of the Gooi region Adults €6; age 12-17 €4.50; age 4-11 €3. edit
In between Laren, Hilversum and Bussum you will still find some of the heathlands that were once so typical of the Gooi region. The Zuiderheide, Westerheide and Bussumer Heide are linked nature reserves that can easily be explored on foot. Especially worthwhile in late Summer, when the heather is in full bloom.
- Poffertjeskraam Cornelis de Haan, Brink 16A (right at the Brink square), ☎ +31 35 538 04 58, . mid Mar-mid Sep Tu-Sa 11AM-9PM, Su 12AM-9PM, mid Sep-mid Mar closed. This old Dutch restaurant is a must-try for authentical poffertjes (small, fluffy pancakes served with powdered sugar and butter). They also serve waffles and drinks. Generations of the De Haan family have been running this restaurant for more than 100 years. It is only open during summertime as they cater to many of the cyclists that cycle around the towns and forests of the Gooi area. €5-€10. edit
- Snackbar Beo, Brinklaantje 14 (near the Brink square), ☎ +31 35 531 48 58, . Su-Th 10AM-2AM Fr-Sa 10AM-3AM. Snackbar Beo is a real family business. It is a quite simple snackbar, but unlike many other places they still make their own snacks. This includes kroketten (croquettes), saté (meat skewers with peanut sauce), ice cream, sandwich filet (a variety of steak tartare) and hamburgers. edit
- Het Bonte Paard, Naarderstraat 1 (in front of the Brink, at the intersection with the road to Hilversum), ☎ +31 35 538 20 92 ([email protected]), . Mo-We 9AM-12PM, Th-Sa 9AM-1AM, Su 11AM-12PM. This old bar has been in existence for more than four centuries. Napoleon is said to have passed this bar on his way to Leusden (and thereby missing a "warm welcome", according to the bar's website). Before the motorway was built in 1921, travellers passed this bar on their way to the south. Nowadays everyone in Laren and its surroundings know this place, as it is a favourite among the rich and famous for networking and socializing. You might spot some Dutch celebrities there while having a beer. edit
- Hotel De Witte Bergen, Rijksweg 2 (motorway A1 between exit 9 and 10), ☎ +31 35 539 58 00, . This is the only hotel in Laren and it is right on the boundary with the neighbouring village of Eemnes. It is located close to the A1 motorway where it intersects with the A27 motorway. It is part of the Van Der Valk chain of motorway hotels. Mid-range hotel with decent rooms, but with a lack of character and authenticity. From €79 for a double. edit
Laren is conveniently located on the A1 motorway, so it is easy to get out. Places to visit nearby are:
- Hilversum, the capital of the Gooi region
- Naarden, with its 17th century fortification
- Amersfoort, pleasant town with a nice historical city centre
- Utrecht, the capital of the province of Utrecht
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