Best things to do in Delft
Find out more about those top places in Delft
Sandwiched between the Netherlands political capital The Hague and the futuristic city of Rotterdam, the small city of Delft is often overshadowed by its larger neighbors. Despite this, Delft is one of the Netherlands most picture-perfect cities with canal-lined streets and a center that mixes medieval architecture with the glories of the Dutch golden age. The highlight of Delft is undoubtedly its spectacular center dominated by regal merchants’ houses with iconic stepped roofs, gilded governmental buildings and medieval churches, which are often set at gravity defying angles due to centuries of subsidence. While the historic center of Delft is enchanting, so too is the Vermeer Centrum which celebrates the life and works of the city’s most famous son, Johannes Vermeer.
Johannes Vermeer, one of the Dutch Golden Age’s greatest artists, lived in Delft all his life until his death in 1675. While none of Vermeer’s original works remain in the town, the Vermeer Centrum uniquely focuses on reconstructing the great artist’s life: various films show what life would have been like in 17th century Delft; interactive exhibits showcase early modern painting techniques; and the occasional skillful reproduction of his work pepper the walls.
In the 19th century Delft was famed for one thing: pottery. At the age-old Royal Delft factory you can immerse yourself in the town’s rich history of craft by seeing how intricate Delftware was painted and watching how the process has been adapted in modern times. For pottery enthusiasts, guided tours are available.
Delft’s Nieuwe Kerk is not very new at all – in fact, it was built between the 14th and 17th centuries. The church is one of the Netherlands most historic, as it is the final resting place for nearly every member of the House of Orange – including William of Orange who famously invaded the British Isles in 1688 during the Glorious Revolution. What is more, make sure to climb the Gothic spire as on clear days you can see all the way to the futuristic skyline of Rotterdam.
The Netherlands answer to the Leaning Tower of Pisa can be found at Delft’s Oude Kerk. Built during the 1200s, the old church’s spire leans more than 2 meters out from its original vertical position due to its canal-side position. Once inside, make sure to have a look at the grandiose tomb of Vermeer.
For those interested in Delft’s links with the House of Orange the Museum Prinsenhof is a must-see attraction. The museum is housed the former convent in which William of Orange was assassinated in 1584 and has a plethora of artifacts that recall the dynasty’s rich history. To get the best experience, knowledgeable tour guides are on offer.
Today the metropolis of Rotterdam and the historic town of Delft merge into one of the Netherlands largest urban conurbations and a day tour of the futuristic former is one of the country’s most thrilling experiences. Completely destroyed during World War Two, the Rotterdam that emerged from the rubble is one of glassy skyscrapers, avant-garde architecture (look out for the mind-boggling Cube Houses), and high-class art, which is best seen at Witte de With Center for Art.
Delft’s main square, known as Markt, is one of the Netherlands most charming. For the best experience, take a walking tour of its historic sights, including the Renaissance Stadhuis, and feast of the fresh produce on offer at the farmer’s market that descends on the square most weekdays.