Although all the hidden gems of The Netherlands seems to be discovered, the eastern town Enschede remains as a well kept secret. In this city you won’t find just old industry and working class districts, but you might encounter here some stunning urban renovation, a Rijksmuseum and even the ugliest building in this North Sea country.
For Dutch standards, Enschede is far from everywhere in the country. It’s at the end of the national railway service, the end of the motorway and not even that far from the German town Münster. So for me, as inhabitant of Brussels, this town was even further away than Paris.
I went to Enschede because one of my friends offered me a bicycle tour through this town. The aim was showing me an off the beaten track town. So, let’s go on a 50km tour!
The city is full old old working class neighborhoods. Long time ago, Enschede used to be the heart of the Dutch textile industry, where workers lived near the factory.
But soon as the factories closed down, unemployment rates had risen drastically. The government tempted to counter this development by the creation of a technical university. In the year 2000, Enschede was struck by a firework disaster in the quarter Roombeek, in which 23 persons were killed and 950 others injured. A national tragedy in recent Dutch history.
But recently, something is changing. This city is reinventing itself with a new shopping zone that attracts many German tourists every weekend. Next to this brand new shopping buildings there are some nice old streets with good bars.
But city renovation didn’t just end in the center, it enriched the city with a brand new district in Roombeek, where the destroyed fireworks factory was replaced by very interesting buildings from famous architects as Pi de Bruijn.
But Enschede is not Enschede without some industrial archeology. Our 50km bicycle tour ended with urban exploration at the old milk factory, between Roombeek and the railway station.
Okay, as Enschede is really off the beaten track and not that attractive as other Dutch cities, it could be a very interesting experience if you’re interested in the Dutch recent history, urban exploring or modern architecture. For me a visit to this town was well worth. Thanks a lot to my Enschedean friends for hosting and guiding me in their town!
Enschede is 160 kilometers or a 2 hour train ride from Amsterdam. There is a direct connection.
I can recommend Chinese Indian restaurant De Lange Muur for it’s dutchificated Asian food and bar België for its tons of Belgian beers. They’ve a nice sense of humor because they consider non Belgian beers as products from far away.