Weesp  is a small historic town in the province of North Holland in the Netherlands, just to the south-east of Amsterdam, on the river Vecht. It was once fortified, and several of the bastions, moats and forts still survive. While the town is nice enough for a stop if you happen to be in the area, it is probably not worth a special detour. However, it is a good base of exploration for the attractive Gooi and Vecht region, as well as for visiting Amsterdam and Utrecht.
Weesp is so close to Amsterdam, it is surprising that it still is an independent municipality of some 18,500 people. The Amsterdam-Rijnkanaal has kept it separate from the big city, and it still retains a lot of its old charm.
The river Vecht, which branches off the Rhine in Utrecht, has been an important north-south connection since Roman times. The surrounding area however was a swampy peat bog, that was uninhabited until the Middle Ages, when the bishops of Utrecht started to drain the peatlands and turn it into pasture.
The first mention of Weesp dates from around 1150, and after the Counts of Holland extended their influence over the region, Weesp was given its city charter in 1355. Since the Vecht was an important line of defence for the County of Holland, Weesp was strongly fortified, more than its size would justify. The town's city walls date back to 1517, and after a French siege in 1672 four bastions were built, two of which were on an artificial island in the river Vecht, the Ossenmarkt. The fortifications however were never fully completed, with four more planned bastions that were never built. Around town, more military structures were erected, first as part of the Hollandse Waterlinie, and later as part of the Stelling van Amsterdam. Weesp itself remained a thriving small town, with economic activities focused on breweries, distilleries and the production of cocoa.
After the Second World War, the town expanded the west, with an industrial zone and harbour on the Amsterdam-Rijnkanaal. In the 1980s a new suburb, Aetsveld, was built on the south.
- VVV Serviceshop (Tourist info), Nieuwstad 12 (inside the bookshop De Kleine Prins), ☎ +32 294 200 020 ([email protected]), .
Weesp is located only 3 kms from the edge of Amsterdam. From the A10 ring road, take either the A2 in the direction of Utrecht, or the A1 in the direction of Amersfoort. From the A2, take the A9 in the direction of Amersfoort. From there, take exit 1 to Weesp, and follow the N236 until you reach town. From the A1, take exit 3 (Muiden) and follow the signs to Weesp (approx. 15 minutes). Parking in town center is €1.20 per hour. You can however park your car for free at the railway station. From there it is a 5 minute walk into town.
Weesp railway station provides regular connections to Amsterdam, Hilversum, Utrecht and Amersfoort. Consult the website of NS for schedules and ticket prices. Travel time from Amsterdam Central Station is 17 minutes.
Cycling from Amsterdam Central Station to Weesp is 15 km (approx. 1 hour). The route is well signposted.
The town is small enough to be explored on foot. A bike is recommended if you intend to use Weesp as a base of exploration for the surrounding area. Regional bus lines run from Weesp to Bussum via Muiden, Muiderberg and Naarden (110); Nederhorst den Berg (106); and to Vreeland via Nigtevecht and Loenen aan de Vecht (122).
- Oldenburger Fietsspecialist, Stationsplein 2A (at the railway station), ☎ +31 294 411 690, . Mo-Fr 6AM-12PM Sa 7AM-12PM Su 10AM-11PM. €12.50 per day.
The small historic centre with its waterside streets and quays is the main attraction of Weesp. The town has over 200 listed National Monuments, and the town centre is designated a Protected Cityscape.
Weesp: windmill on river Vecht.
- Stadhuis (Town Hall), Nieuwstraat 41, ☎ +31 294 491 245 ([email protected]), . We-Su 1:30-5PM. The old town hall dates from 1776 and houses the Municipal Museum, with exhibits on the old porcelain, cocoa and bicycle industries of Weesp. Adults €5, ages over 65 €4, 6-18 €3, under 6 free.
- Molen De Vriendschap (windmill), Utrechtseweg 11a, ☎ +31 294 417 024 ([email protected]), . Sa 10AM-4PM. Fully functional corn mill dating from 1900, that is still producing wheat flour. Two more windmills can be seen in town, Eendragt and 't Haantje. These are however not open to visitors.
- Grote of Sint-Laurenskerk (Great Church), Nieuwstraat 31. The 15th-century Great Church is still in use as a protestant church.
- Synagoge (former synagogue), Nieuwstraat 3-5, . The synagogue was built in 1840, and in use until 29th April, 1942, when the Jews of Weesp were deported. It is now used for exhibitions and other cultural activities.
- Moats and bastions. The four bastions of Weesp were all constructed in 1674. The two southern bastions, Roozenboom and Draaierschans, are now small parks. The two eastern ones, Bakkerschans and Nieuw Achtkant on the Ossenmarkt, offer nice views over the Vecht river and the windmills. On the Bakkerschans, you can visit the Theetuin, a beautiful model garden.
- Fort Ossenmarkt, Ossenmarkt 32, . Not open to visitors. This circular fort on the Ossenmarkt was built in 1861, and is the most conspicuous landmark of Weesp.
- Wooden houses, Utrechtseweg/Molenpad. Not open to visitors. A zone of 300 m from the fortifications had to be kept clear of vegetation and buildings, in order to have a clear field of fire. Only wooden houses were allowed in this zone, so that the garrison could burn them quickly if the enemy approached.
Close to Weesp, a number of other military structures can be found.
- Fort Uitermeer, . Restaurant We-Su 11AM-10PM. The Uitermeer fort is located on the east bank of the river Vecht, just north of the N236. It was built after the French invasion of 1672 to protect the lock to the old canal to 's-Graveland. The current structure dates from 1845, and was in use until 1959. It was heavily damaged after WWII because of explosives testing, but it has been partly restored and now houses a restaurant.
- Fort Hinderdam, . Not open to visitors. Only ruins remain of this fort dating from 1848. It is located on an island in the river Vecht, approx. 1 km south of the N236.
- Fort bij Nigtevecht, . Not open to visitors. This fort dates from 1903, and was built on the west side of the Amsterdam-Rijnkanaal to protect the entrance to the Vecht river.
In the 1930s, the Dutch army also built a number of bunkers in the area to prevent a German invasion. These cannot be visited.
- bunker cluster Uitermeer (1932 and 1939), around the fort. Visible from the N236, and from the cycle path to Bussum.
- bunker cluster Hakkelaarsbrug (1931), on both sides of the A1 motorway, near the railway bridge to Almere. Some are visible from the road to Muiderberg.
- bunker cluster Muiderberg (1939), most are hidden in the woods around the village.
A nice walk brings you through the Aetsveldsche Polder, south of Weesp, to the river Vecht and Fort Hinderdam. Start at the traffic lights at the crossing of N236 and Van Houtenlaan, and then follow the Aetsveldseweg until you reach the river, returning via the fort taking the Lage Klompweg and Utrechtseweg.
- City walk, (starts at the bridge over the river Vecht), . You can download a 2.5 km city walk here (description in Dutch)
- Guided city walk, Nieuwstraat 31 (next to the Grote Kerk), ☎ +31 294 489 070 ([email protected]), . Jul-Aug Fr 7PM. A 1.5 hr guided tour of town (in Dutch). €3.50 per person.
Cycling around Weesp
Bicycle path alongside canal
The area to the east and south of Weesp lends itself very well to cycling. The system of Fietsknooppunten (biking nodes) makes creating your own routes extremely simple. Practical information on cycling in the region can be found here. There's also a list of places of interest on Google Maps.
Several signposted routes pass through Weesp. Most are circuits signposted in one direction, taking several hours. You can start the Plassen Route (Lakes Route) and the Boerenland Route (Farmland Route) from the station (follow the hexagonal route signs from the corner of Stationsplein and Herensingel). The Plassen Route and the Muiden Route pass the circular fort. A much longer route passes just behind it: the Forten Route, 187 km long, along all the forts of the Stelling van Amsterdam.
From Weesp, you can either explore eastward in the direction of Het Gooi, or southward along the river Vecht. The following places of interest are within easy reach:
- the small villages of Nigtevecht (5 km) and Nederhorst den Berg (8 km) on the beautiful river Vecht
- follow the Gein river, just to the south of Amsterdam, all the way to Abcoude (10 km)
- Loenen aan de Vecht (14 km) and Oud-Loosdrecht (18 km), in the Loosdrechtse Plassen water sports area
- or if you feel up to it, go all the way to Utrecht (29 km) along the Amsterdam-Rijnkanaal
Even though Weesp is a small town, it boasts a local delicacy: Weesper moppen are small round cookies made from almond paste. You can buy them in the local bakeries.
- Bakkerij Cor Mühl, Nieuwstad 64, ☎ +31 294 412 802, . Mo-Fr 7:30AM-6PM Sa 7:30AM-5PM Su 7:30AM-12AM.
- Banketbakkerij J.J. Wesselman, Breedstraat 23, ☎ +31 294 412 354 ([email protected]), . Mo-Th 8AM-5PM Fr 8AM-8PM Sa 8AM-4PM Su closed.
- Bakkerij Abbekerk, Slijkstraat 45, ☎ +31 294 412 452 ([email protected]), . Mo-Fr 7:30AM-6PM Sa 7:30AM-4PM Su closed.
- Eeterij De Schalkse, Ossenmarkt 12a, ☎ +31 294 413 544, . Daily 11AM-11PM. French-international cuisine. Big sunny terrace with view over the river Vecht and the circular fort. Mains from €14.95.
- Niki, Hoogstraat 17, ☎ +31 294 430 369, . We-Th, Su 5-9:30PM, Fr-Sa 5-10PM, Mo-Tu closed. Popular Greek restaurant. Mains from €15.50.
- Il Bocconcino da Rimini, Nieuwstad 52, ☎ +31 294 480 794 ([email protected]), . Tu-Su 5:30PM-10PM Mo closed. Italian restaurant. Small dishes served in rounds of two. Menu €23.50.
- Proeverij De Kroon, Nieuwstraat 18, ☎ +31 294 480 031, . We-Su 5-11PM Mo-Tu closed. Informal eetcafé, basic but tasty food. Mains from €12.
- Meyers CuliCafé, Nieuwstad 84, ☎ +31 294 415 463 ([email protected]), . Tu-Fr 11:30AM-1:30PM (lunch) Tu-Sa 5-9:30PM (dinner) Su-Mo closed. French cuisine, well-reviewed. Mains from €18.
- Minevitus, Nieuwstad 32, ☎ +31 294 413 529, . Tu-Fr 12AM-2PM (lunch) Tu-Sa 5:30-10PM (dinner) Su-Mo closed. Classic French cuisine, a little bit more expensive, but well-reviewed. Dinner 3-course menu €45.
- Café Restaurant Aaltje, Herengracht 33, ☎ +31 294 414 726 ([email protected]), . Daily 4PM-1AM. Dutch cuisine, using locale produce. Well-reviewed. Mains from €13.50.
- Bistrot La Ruelle, Slijkstraat 53, ☎ +31 294 411 717 ([email protected]), . Daily 11AM-10PM. French-international cuisine. Mains from €15.
- Thai Faa Faet, Dammerweg 6a (Follow the N236 in the direction of Hilversum, then turn right after crossing the Vecht in the direction of Nederhorst den Berg), ☎ +31 294 251 251 ([email protected]), . We-Su 4-10PM Mo-Tu closed. Well-reviewed Thai restaurant, some 2 km outside town centre, with a terrace on the river Vecht. Menu €19.
- Tong Ah, Gooilandseweg 3, ☎ +31 294 418 165, . Daily 4-10PM. Chinese-Indonesian restaurant and take-away. Shared dining menu €23.50.
- Café-Diner 't Weesperplein, Slijkstraat 43, ☎ +31 294 482 820, . Tu 10AM-12PM We-Sa 11AM-12PM Su 2-12PM Mo closed. International cuisine. Very cosy interior, with a tree in the middle of the restaurant. Mains from €16.50.
Ice cream parlour
- Nelis' IJssalon, Slijkstraat 41, ☎ 31 294 412 285, . Home-made ice cream. Su-Mo 11AM-10PM Tu 9:30AM-10PM We-Sa 10AM-10PM.
Weesp has its own beer, Wispe. This beer is however not brewed in town. Currently, they have three varieties on offer, blonde, white and triple.
Weesp has a number of watering holes:
- Het Wapen van Weesp, Slijkstraat 1, ☎ +31 294 269 950, . Mo-Th 4PM-1AM, Fr-Sa 4PM-2AM, Su 2PM-1AM. Pool and billiards table. Terrace with view over the river Vecht. Only cash payment.
- De Natte Krant, Hoogstraat 25, ☎ +31 294 266 623, . Su-Th 3PM-1AM, Fr-Sa 3PM-2AM. Terrace with view over the river Vecht.
- 't Helletje, Stationsweg 13, ☎ +31 294 430 922. Cosy interior with big reading table. Terrace with view over the river Vecht.
- Toeters En Bellen, Herengracht 1, ☎ +31 294 480 002 ([email protected]), . Su, Tu-Th 11AM-1AM, Fr-Sa 11AM-2AM; Mo closed. Terrace with view over the river Vecht and Kom. Live music, pub quizzes and live sports on big screen.
Weesp only has one hotel:
- Hotel Het Hart van Weesp, Herengracht 35, ☎ +31 294 419 353 ([email protected]), . Double room from €93, breakfast €12.50.
The closest campsite is found in Amsterdam-Zuidoost:
- Gaasper Camping Amsterdam, Loosdrechtdreef 7, Amsterdam-Zuidoost, ☎ +31 20 696 7326, . Open from mid March to end of October. €12 for one person and one tent (high-season).
- Naarden, 17th-century fortified town, one of the best preserved in the world
- Muiden, famous for its 13th-century Muiderslot castle
- Hilversum, the main city in the Gooi and Vecht region
- Utrecht, capital of the eponymous province
- and of course Amsterdam is within easy reach as well
The Vecht river, which runs from Utrecht to Muiden, is very attractive for cycling and sailing, and passes along many beautiful stately manors, built by the rich citizens of Amsterdam in the 17th and 18th century.
For water sports, the Loosdrechtse Plassen in the municipality of Wijdemeren are very popular.
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