Gooi and Vecht Region : Weesp
Although the river Vecht was an important north-south connection since Roman times, this region was mainly a peat bog wilderness until around 1000 AD. Only a few elevated places like riverbanks were (temporarily) inhabited by hunters and fishermen. That changed when the peat was drained and turned into farmland.
Weesp was granted city rights in 1355, and celebrated its 650th anniversary as a city in 2005. It was probably settled several centuries earlier. Its position on the river Vecht influenced its history greatly. From the late Middle Ages, the Vecht was a defensive line for the County of Holland, and it remained a military defensive line until the Second World War. Weesp was strongly fortified, more than its size would justify - for most of its history it had a few thousand inhabitants. The defensive lines consisted of inundation zones, which would be flooded in wartime. Behind them were fortified towns, forts, barracks, and other military structures. The most comprehensive was the Stelling van Amsterdam, a circular inundation zone around Amsterdam. See the website on its history Defence Line of Amsterdam. The defence line is a UNESCO World Heritage Site .
After the Second World War, new housing was built to the west, and an industrial zone with a harbour on the Amsterdam-Rhine Canal. In the 1970’s a suburb was built on the south. Since then the town has not expanded. However, a motorway through the fields around the town is now in the planning stage, to connect the A6 and A9 motorways. It was first planned in the 1960’s, and to meet environmental objections, some of it would now be in tunnel. Everywhere in the town you will see posters against this project. On the north side of Weesp, the rail line forms a barrier: there is a small housing estate just north of the station, the rest is open fields. A large housing development is planned here, in combination with another west of Muiden, which would make the area definitively suburban. The Tourist Office is at Hoogstraat 10, on the Vecht riverbank. Open Monday 13.00-17.00, Tuesday to Friday 10.00-17.00, and Saturday 10.00-16.00. Tel. (0294) 415427; fax (0294) 418702, .
You can cycle from central Amsterdam to Weesp, 15 km, in an hour. The route is well signposted: from Central Station, follow the cycle direction signs for Almere, along the Prins Hendrikkade, Oostenburgergracht, and Zeeburgerdijk. From the end of Zeeburgerdijk, Weesp is shown on the cycle signs. Cycle along the Amsterdam-Rhine canal for about 7 km, then cross the cycle path on the railway bridge. Turn right under the first underpass toward Weesp, cycle straight on along this road, then turn left along Amstellandlaan.Turn right at the traffic lights, and left after the bridge, toward 'Centrum'.
Weesp station is a rail junction with trains to/from four directions, and an intensive service (as of 10 December 2006).
- to/from Amsterdam: four trains per hour, 12 or 16 minutes
- from Utrecht via Hilversum: every 30 minutes, journey time 38 minutes
- from Amersfoort via Hilversum: every 30 minutes, takes 28 minutes
- from Almere: every 15 minutes
- from Schiphol airport via Amsterdam-Zuid: four trains per hour, takes 25 minutes. Two of these trains start from Leiden.
The town centre is 5 minutes walk from the station: go through Stationsplein, (with the bus stops and a city map), turn left into Herensingel, then right onto Stationsweg, on the bank of the Vecht river.
By metro and bus
Bus 49 connects the Amsterdam metro stations Bijlmer and Gaasperplas with Weesp. Every 30 minutes, but hourly evenings and weekends. From central Amsterdam, the train is always faster.
The small historic centre, and the waterside streets and quays, are the main attraction of Weesp. Specific sights include:
- old Town Hall (1776), Nieuwstraat 41. It houses a small museum for porcelain, (one of the old industries in Weesp), limited opening hours.
- the circular fort at Ossenmarkt (1861), cross the river Vecht by the wooden bridge. See the online images and panorama. The fort is home to a number of private businesses and is not accessible to the public. Behind the fort are two older bastions (circa 1674), Bakkerschans and Nieuw Achtkant (with a view of the windmills).
- 3 windmills (website) in the town (and more in the countryside around). 2 windmills South-East of the centre: Eendragt (Unity) and Vriendschap (Friendship), near each other on the Vecht. They are best seen from the opposite bank, about 10 minutes walk from the centre. Windmill Vriendschap is still used for the production of wheat-flour, can be visited on Saturday. 1 windmill West of the centre: 't Haantje (the rooster), on the bank of the waterway Smal Weesp.
- the 15th-century church, Laurenskerk, Nieuwstraat. The tower is 13th-century.
- former Synagogue, Nieuwstraat 5. Used from 1840 until 29th April, 1942, when the Jews of Weesp were deported.
- the moat and eastern bastions, Roozenboom and Draaierschans, built 1674, and now a small park. They are left and right at the end of Nieuwstraat.
- the expendable wooden houses across the moat from the bastions, on Utrechtseweg and Molenpad. An area near city walls and forts was kept clear of vegetation and buildings, to give a clear field of fire. Small houses were allowed, but only of wood, so that the garrison could burn them quickly if the enemy approached.
- Fort Uitermeer (1845), protecting the lock of the old canal to 's-Graveland, where it joins the Vecht. On the right bank of the Vecht, 4 km East of Weesp. The fort was blown up after WWII, and is (partly) being restored. You can walk for free around the ruins.
- bunker cluster Uitermeer (1932 and 1939), around the fort. Visible from the main road Weesp-Hilversum (N236), and from the cycle path to Bussum.
- bunker cluster Hakkelaarsbrug (1931), on both sides of the A1 motorway, near the bridge carrying the rail line to Almere. Some visible from the road to Muiderberg.
- bunker cluster Muiderberg (1939), most are hidden in the woods around the village.
- Fort near Hinderdam (circa 1848). On an island in the river Vecht, about 1 km South of the N236 bridge. Not accessible.
- Fort near Nigtevecht (1904). Along the Western side of the Amsterdam-Rhine Canal, 2 km South of Weesp. This fort is generally not open to the public.
Bus 110 takes you from Weesp to the fortified town of Muiden in just 5 minutes, and the medieval Muiderslot castle is another 10 minutes walk from the bus stop. You can also walk along the Vecht river, it would take about an hour from Weesp to the castle (walking the long and most scenic route along the eastern bank of the river).
You can walk across the fields south of Weesp, through the Aetsveldsche Polder, on an old road (Aetsveldseweg). Most of it is unsurfaced. It starts beside the street map, just south of the traffic lights, where the main road (N236) cross the Van Houtenlaan, south of the centre. When you reach the Vecht again, Fort Hinderdam is about 500 m to the left. The planned A6-A9 motorway will cut through this polder. Walk on past the fort, and the road will bring you back to Weesp (via Lage Klompweg and Utrechtseweg).
Cycling around Weesp
If you came from Amsterdam by bike, you can cycle on to Muiden and cycle back from there: that will add about 3 km to the trip. You can also cycle to several villages, the Naardermeer Nature Reserve, and Naarden fortress.
If you arrive in Weesp by train, you can rent a bicycle at the bikeshop at the station. Practical information on cycling in the region on this linkpage. There's also a GoogleMap with a lot of pictures of the region. Look on GoogleMaps (in User-created content) for "Places of interest, just east of Amsterdam", or use this link.
To cycle eastward out of Weesp: pass the circular fort, and cross the bridge. Turn left to reach Muiden along the right bank of the Vecht. For Muiderberg, Naarden and and Bussum, turn right along the ‘s-Gravelandseweg, the right bank of the Vecht.
- for Bussum, continue to the lock at the start of the old canal to ‘s-Graveland. Go right of the lock, and follow the cycle path alongside the canal, and across the fields toward Bussum (12 km).
- otherwise, about 4 km from Weesp (after farm nr. 45), turn left into an unnamed side road. (This is before the lock). Cross the rail line, and after about 1 km, the road forks.
- the right fork, Visserijpad, leads to the entrance of the Naardermeer nature reserve , 6 km from Weesp. To reach Naarden continue along this almost unused road, for another 5 km, past some houses, to an apartment block just inside Naarden. Turn left there, along Koningin Wilhelminalaan, to the fortress.
- the left fork leads past a windmill and across the motorway, go straight on at the traffic lights to Muiderberg (9 km).
For Hilversum, take the Utrechtseweg (Vecht left bank) past the two windmills, then the Lage Klomp weg, and then use the cycle path alongside the main road (Gooilandseweg, N236).
For the small village of Nigtevecht, leave by the Breedstraat, Groeneweg, van Houtenlaan, cross the N236 south of the town centre, and follow the signs. The cycle path is parallel to the Amsterdam-Rhine Canal, with open grassland on the east. This landscape will be cut by the planned motorway. In Nigtevecht (5 km from Weesp), go on through the housing estate to the old section of the village (one street)
- you can cross the Vecht here, by a small free ferry, toward Nederhorst den Berg, but the ferry (pont) has limited hours: 12-13.30 and 15.30-17.30 on weekdays, 12-17.30 weekends.
- for Utrecht follow the cycle sign (in the housing estate, turn right), and then cross the lock which connects the Vecht to the Amsterdam-Rhine Canal. Turn next left into Vreelandseweg, to follow the bank of the Vecht to Utrecht - about 30 km further. (At the village of Vreeland, you should switch to the opposite bank, the road is quieter). The main cycle path from Nigtevecht (24 km) runs alongside the Amsterdam-Rhine Canal.
Several signposted cycle routes pass Weesp. Most are circular routes 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. One much longer route passes just behind it: the Forten Route, 187 km long, along all the forts of the Stelling van Amsterdam.
Although Weesp is a small town, it does have a local speciality: Weesper moppen, small almond cakes. You can buy them at the bakeries:
- Huize Pels, Nieuwstad 22
- Cor Mühl, Nieuwstad 64
- Wesselman, Breedstraat 23
- Hans Klercq, Slijkstraat 45.
There are a great number of restaurants.
- De Schalkse, Ossenmarkt 12 1381 LX, ☎ 0031-294-413544, . Big terras looking over the Vecht.
- Selene Express (Italian), Slijkstraat 10 1381 BA, ☎ 0031-294-480862, .
- De Koperen Ketel, Achteromstraat 6 1381 AV, ☎ 0031-294-414971.
- Plaka (Greek), Hoogstraat 17 1381 VS, ☎ 0031-294-430369.
- Ice restaurant Nelis, Slijkstraat 41 1381 AZ, ☎ 0031-294-412285.
- Rimini (Italian), Achteromdwarsstraat 4 1381 AW, ☎ 0031-294-480794.
- De Kroon, Nieuwstraat 18 1381 BC, ☎ 0031-294-480031.
- De Mazzel (Kebab), Slijkstraat 34 1381 BA, ☎ 0031-294-430690.
- Meyers, Nieuwstad 84 1381 CD, ☎ 0031-294-415463.
- Minevitus, Nieuwstad 32 1381 CC, ☎ 0031-294-413529.
- Rubens, Herengr 33 1382 AH, ☎ 0031-294-414726.
- La Ruelle, Oudegracht 3a 1381 CG, ☎ 0031-294-411717.
- 't Carillon, Nieuwstraat 36 1381 BD, ☎ 0031-294-414275.
- Thai Faa Faet, Dammerwg 6a 1383 HT, ☎ 0031-294-251251. Outside the city but very good Thai food.
- Tong Ah (Chinees), Gooilandsewg 3 1381 HR, ☎ 0031-294-418165.
- 't Weesperplein, Slijkstraat 43 1381 AZ, ☎ 0031-294-482820.
There are many bars and pubs in Weesp.
- Cafe 't Gat van Weesp, Slijkstraat 1 1381AX, ☎ 0031-294-432976.
- Cafe de Weespermop, Stationweg10 1382AB, ☎ 0031-294-412327.
- Cafe De Natte Krant, Hoogstraat 25 1381 VT Weesp, ☎ 0031 294 41 228 2.
- Cafe 't Helletje, Stationsweg 13 1382 AA Weesp, ☎ 0031-294-410785.
- De Dames Van Amstel, Nieuwstad 30 1381 CC Weesp, ☎ 0031-294-412340.
- Toeters En Bellen, Herengracht 1 1382 AE Weesp, ☎ 0031-294-480002.
- Weesper Taveerne, E Du Perronstraat 36 1382 SZ Weesp, ☎ 0031-294-411635.
Weesp is easy to reach, and easy to leave. The last train back to Amsterdam is at 00.37. If you came from Amsterdam, you can combine a stop in Weesp with a trip to Naarden, which has much larger 17th-century fortifications. Take the train to Naarden-Bussum station (4 trains per hour, next stop, 7 minutes), from there it is 30 minutes walk to the bastions and old town centre. (You do not need an extra ticket to stop off at intermediate stations). Naarden and Muiden can also be reached by bus 110 from Weesp station, every half hour.
There is one other bus line you can use: bus 122, run by BBA . It runs through the small villages south of Weesp, to Overvecht station in the north of Utrecht. Despite the proximity to Amsterdam, this is a less developed rural area, otherwise unserviced by public transport. Hourly, 30 or 32 minutes past the hour, until 18.30.
Note: There are also regular bus connections (every half hour)directly to several Amsterdam metro stations. I took this bus in September 2009.
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