Gooi and Vecht Region : Weesp
| is a small historic town south-east of Amsterdam, on the river Vecht. It was once fortified, and several of the bastions, moats and forts still survive. In the Amsterdam region, Weesp is the nearest small town that has survived as an independent entity. It is only 3 km from the end of the Amsterdam metro, but the wide Amsterdam-Rhine Canal keeps it geographically separate. Weesp is a rail junction, and very easily accessible. The town is surrounded by open grassland.
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).
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:
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 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)
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:
There are a great number of restaurants.
There are many bars and pubs in Weesp.
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.