If there’s one city whose 600-year-old history is inextricably linked with water then it’s Dordrecht. The city is the meeting point of the great rivers of the delta, which down the centuries has witnessed inundations and land reclamations, been home to shipbuilders and merchants, and seen flourishing trade, disaster and reconstruction. The oldest city in Holland, once surrounded by water on an island, Dordrecht has a colourful history, with 1,600 monuments, historical inner harbours and many authentic small courtyards. Its long-standing co-existence with water is evident throughout the city.
Dordrecht can best be discovered on foot. ‘Rondje Dordt’ is a waymarked trail that wanders through the historic heart of the city. Along the way you will encounter ancient quaysides and monuments, such as the Grote Kerk and Het Hof. Rest your weary legs at one of the pavement cafés on the Groothoofd, where the old town gate stands guard over Europe’s busiest inland shipping lane. You can also discover the city centre on water. An electric boat navigates canals lined with historic buildings and crossed by antiquated bridges.
An easy cycle from the city centre is the World Heritage site of Kinderdijk with its iconic windmills. So too is the De Biesbosch National Park where you can park your bike at the Biesboschcentrum Dordrecht and rent a canoe or boat and experience this unique freshwater tidal zone. Bikes can be rented at various places in the city, such as at the main railway station and at the tourist information office (VVV). From Dordrecht you can also take the Waterbus to Rotterdam. From the Merwedekade stop you can be in Europe’s largest port in just one hour. In this metropolis you can marvel at the modern architecture and lose yourself in museums of an international standing.
Plan your visit to Dordrecht at www.vvvdordrecht.nl
Dordrecht as a starting point
Scale the tower
The Grote Kerk, Dordrecht’s medieval church literally towers above the city’s historic centre. The towers stands 65 metres tall and is more than 2 metres out of plumb. If you climb the 275 steps to the top you will be rewarded with a fantastic view of the city and its surroundings. www.grotekerk-dordrecht.nl
Villa Augustus is a riverside hotel and restaurant which occupies an old pumping station and is now situated in the middle of a vegetable garden. All fruit, vegetables and herbs are picked for use in the kitchen. A unique location for a meal or a bed. www.villa-augustus.nl
Nieuwe Dordtse Biesbosch
A bike-ride away from the city centre is the Nieuwe Dordtse Biesbosch, former agricultural land which has now been rewilded. The resulting marshland and reed beds are now home to spoonbills, egrets and numerous species of dragonflies. And all this, so close to the city. More info
A perspective of the city in the Dordrechts Museum
Dordrecht – a typical Dutch waterside city – was captured on canvas many times by 17th century painters such as Albert Cuyp and Van Goyen and rediscovered by other artists in the 19th century. The Dordrechts Museum throws some light on the city’s illustrious past. More info
Nieuwe Dordtse Biesbosch cycle route
This cycle route (12.5 or 18 km) follows the course of some magnificent old dykes on the Eiland van Dordrecht and takes in the rewilded landscape of the water-rich Nieuwe Dordtse Biesbosch. Info & route