Most people who travel to the Netherlands go to its lively capital Amsterdam. And this is undoubtedly a place worth visiting for its history, charm and many sights to see. However, if you ever get a chance to visit the area around Eindhoven, in the southern part of this charming country, you will find a place of beauty, biking and many interesting artistic and historical sights.
Hubby and I recently visited some good friends we have who live near Eindhoven and they showed us many interesting places to see in North Brabant and adjacent provinces . Among them were a great museum in De Hoge Veluwe National Park with many Van Gogh paintings in the province of Gelderland and a huge WWII cemetery for American war dead in the province of Limburg.
The Kroller-Muller Art Museum in Holland boasts a huge collection of paintings by Vincent Van Gogh, including some I had never said anywhere else. Here is a sample of some of his works on display there, by a town called Otterlo. In addition to the museum, there is also a 25-acre sculpture garden adjacent to it. Plus, the museum resides in the middle of a beautiful National Forest. You can park your car right outside the national park and then rent bikes to ride through the park and go to the museum if you are feeling energetic. Here is more information about the museum, which I consider to be a hidden gem. https://www.holland.com/global/tourism/destinations/provinces/gelderland/the-krollermuller-museum.htm.
Isn’t it sad that none of Van Gogh’s amazing paintings were sold during this lifetime? Now, some of his pieces are worth millions of dollars. Didn’t someone say, “Timing is everything”? Anyway, what’s great about this museum is you can enjoy his paintings for the cost of admission. The sculpture garden outside the museum was also quite impressive. Here are just a few of the many sculptures you can see there.
Another day on our visit to the Netherlands, we saw a huge cemetery of American war dead. It is called the Netherlands American Cemetary and Memorial. Although the site is very well-maintained, it is an extremely sad place to visit with over 8,000 American war dead, most of them young men. For more information about this cemetery, see https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Netherlands_American_Cemetery.
The Netherlands is a place rich in history, especially history from World War I and II. Another sight we saw with our friends was the “Wire of Death.” In Dutch, this is called De doodendraad or literally, wire of the dead. This was an electrified fence the German military had put up between the Dutch and Belgium border when they occupied Belgium during World War I. When Germany invaded Belgium during WWI, In 1914, more than one million Belgians had already crossed into the Netherlands to escape the German occupation.
According to Wikipedia, construction of this fence began in the spring of 1915 and consisted of over 200 kilometers of 2,000-volt wire with a height ranging from 1.5 to about 3 meters spanning the length of the Dutch-Belgian border. Here is more information about this deadly wire and why it was erected. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Wire_of_Death.
Another place our kind friends took us to was called the Wings of Liberation Museum. It tells the story of the liberation of Southern Holland during World War II and it had some interesting exhibits, including photos, tanks, aircraft and weapons. The museum is situated in Best, Holland, where on 17 September 1944, airborne operations as part of “Operation Market Garden” marked the beginning of the liberation of the southern Netherlands. The museum pays special tribute to an American by the name of Joe Eugene Mann. This brave soldier sacrificed his life to save other soldiers by jumping on a hand grenade on the 18th of September, 1944 near the town of Best. He received the Medal of Honor for his bravery. Here is more information about what Mann did. https://www.cmohs.org/recipients/joe-e-mann. For more information about the Wings of Liberation Museum, see https://www.wingsofliberation.nl/.
Lastly, our friends took us to the picturesque village of Nuenen, where Vicent Van Gogh lived from 1883 to 1885.
Although Nuenen is a charming town in the province of North Brabant, during World War II it was the site of battles during the so-called Operation Market Garden. On a beautiful sunny day like we had when we visited in early September, it was hard to imagine this lovely place with Van Gogh sculptures being the scene of a horrific battle.
Thankfully, Nuenen is now better known as the village where Van Gogh lived and painted for a time. Hopefully, this overview of Southern Holland will inspire you to visit this charming country. Not only are there many interesting cultural and historical sights here, but it’s a beautiful green part of the world, with healthy trees all around and bike paths on every road full of people of all ages riding bikes around in fresh air looking happy and enjoying life.