24 Hours in Delft, Holland
I recently had a business meeting in the small but mighty town of Delft in Holland. It's less than an hour train ride from Amsterdam and home of the famous 17th century blue and white Royal Delftware. After my meeting, which was on the outskirts of town across from the largest IKEA I've ever seen, I had a day to explore Delft and enjoy what it had to offer.
The center of Delft is a good place to start - in the Markt square. Most everything in Delft is a walkable distance from the Markt square. There is plenty to see and explore for either a full or half day. The Markt has lovely architecture that includes the town hall and the Niewe Kerk (New Church) where members of the Dutch royal family have their final resting places. There are plenty of shops and restaurants in the Markt so you can sit and watch the people pass by. I was lucky that a local school had several bands and performers putting on a show while I was visiting. I stopped for a early dinner of moules frites (mussels in a delicious broth served with French fries) and beer at a lovely cafe on the square called Het Konings Huys. A spirited crowd made me feel right at home and the people-watching was fantastic.
A short walk away from the Markt square is the Oude Kerk (Old Church) where the famous Dutch painter Johannes Vermeer, often known as the "Master of Light," is buried. The Vermeer Centrum Museum loaded with the artist's work is also just steps away.
The town of Delft, like many others in the Netherlands, is built around canals. These canals create a quaint backdrop for the shops, restaurants and historical landmarks in the area. During the summer season canal boat rides make for a leisurely way to see the sights. When exploring Delft be sure to watch out for bicycles. Many people are riding them all over. The train stations have huge "parking lots" for the commuting Dutch who will ride their bikes to the station and then take the train into work.
You simply cannot miss the blue and white Royal Delftware - it's everywhere. The 16th century Delft potters became very proficient at imitating Chinese porcelain, and their plates, bowls, teapots, cups and more, quickly became highly-prized exports. Royal Delftware was once prized as valuable collectibles for people of high social and economic status. Now it's more widely available to everyone and is still produced in Delft just as it was in the beginning. If you have the time you might want to take the tour through the factor, where you can learn about the history, see how the pieces are made and visit the showroom. There are also many shops in town where you can customize your Delftware with your own photo on an e-card, postcard or plate.
Delft is a lovely town with many charming spots to visit and relax where you can take in all there is to offer. Whether you want to sit in a cafe or restaurant in one of the interesting squares, enjoying a cold beer or wine or walk along the bustling streets exploring the shops and history of Delft, you're sure to discover a wonderful little community full of its own unique cultural delights. If you plan to go to Amsterdam, or just pass through the nearby areas, you would do well to take a little side trip to visit this beautiful little town before heading on your way.