Before the rise of Amsterdam, Kampen ruled the waves. Kampen was the most powerful and prosperous town of the Netherlands and one of the leading cities of Northwest Europe. Kampen was part of an international trading alliance called De Hanze (The Group) which included cities such as Hamburg, Cologne, Bruges and Copenhagen.
The historic center is one of the country’s best preserved, boasting no fewer than 500 medieval monuments, including houses, gates, and towers. Kampen won the Dutch Heritage Award in 2013, and in June 2017 Kampen has hosted The International Hanseatic Days.
In Kampen you have the chance to make an authentic connection with the Dutch people and their beautiful culture. Main themes and attractions include:
- The waterfront of the city is the most precious one of Holland
- The Kogge Shipyard. A Kogge was a kind of ship you could compare with the big containerships of our days. The Kogge’s made Kampen tremendously rich. Just recently a Kogge was discovered in the IJssel River. BBC, CNN and National Geographic were among the media who covered this event.
- The 17th century Bell Tower designed by the renowned architect Vingboons carries bells by Geert van Wou and the brothers Hemony. Carillon players from all over the world like the U.S.A. give special concerts in summertime.
- The church was built in 1369 by Rutger van Keulen, whose father was the master builder of the famous Cologne Cathedral. The church towers above the other churches also in a figurative sense, mainly because of the Hinsz organ. With its 3200 pipes and incredible sound, it is a major eye-catcher. Its tones do not simply descend downwards, but they rise up into the 27-metre-high vaults! This also explains why this church attracts people from all corners of the world.
Arts, Artisans and Crafts
- The Magistrates Court, the original 16th century hall where trials were held and from which Kampen was governed is now an integral part of The City museum. The museum houses an exceptional collection and a number of treasures of national and international importance. For instance, the 17th century painting by Hendrick Avercamp, renowned for this winter landscapes with merry ice skaters and the elaborately decorated guild cup from the Rijnschippers Guild dating back to 1367, the oldest known silver guild piece in the Netherlands. And if that wasn’t enough, the museum boasts a unique Orange portrait gallery comprising 17 life-size portraits of the Dutch royal family, including the most recent addition: a portrait of king Willem-Alexander.
- The Olifant Cigar Factory: Kampen has a reputation as a city were once 3 out of 4 people worked in the cigar industry. The Olifant, in the historic center, is now the only surviving family business were high quality cigars, some made by hand, are manufactured. The Olifant cigars have a reputation matching the Cuban counterparts. The Olifant is connected with a shop and coffee bar, The Eenhoorn, were you can buy and drink superb tea and coffees.
- And there is The Guild-quarter: local specialist like for instance a chocolatier who makes their own bonbon, a small brewery and cafe were you can drink authentic Kampen beer, and a gelatoria were artisan ice is made.
Polders, traditional (dairy) farmers and farmshops
The polders around Kampen, The Kampeiland (The Kamperisle), are one of the greenest and oldest polders of the Netherlands. A polder is land reclaimed from the sea. Especially the polders surrounding Kampen are very prosperous thanks to the sedimentation of fertile clay, being located in a unique and one of kind national landscape of the IJssel Delta.
Quality products like butter and hay are renowned in Kampen and beyond. For instance the hay was bought by the Royal Family for their horses. Of course only the best was good enough for them!