Ever wondered where the station in Stationstraat is? Or what the “waag” in Waagstraat means? I did. And I found most of my answers on a stroll through Wageningen city centre with someone who knows things. Like why people in the 16th century drank beer instead of water, what happened to the church tower and why Wageningen is a city and not a town.
The guided walk kicked off at the remains of the original castle walls, which were built in the early 16th century. But people were already living in Wageningen long before then, from as early as the 1100’s in fact. So Wageningen is really old. And much has changed over the centuries – even the flow of the Rijn. Originally the city was right next to the river, but over time the river changed its course. Which is also the reason why Maneswaard, cosily nestled on the other side of the Rijn, is still part of the gemeente Wageningen.
Along the walk our guide pointed out some cool sights. He showed us the old hospital, the boys’ school, the cloister and the original entrance to the city. He told stories of kings and wars, mills and superstitions. He showed us old black and white pics of what the city looked like before The War and we realised how much had changed in 70 years. But even before then Wageningen knew no peace. It was attacked and plundered in 1422, 1468, 1625, 1662 and 1673.
But some stunning buildings still remain today. For example the post office next to the city council building, built in 1898 by architect C. Peters in a style that was to become known as “post-office gothic”. And although the church on the square looks old, it was actually reconstructed, stone by stone, after it was levelled in 1940. Like in the centuries before, the people of Wageningen picked up the pieces and rebuilt their city.
The city walk or stadswandeling is organised through De Casteelse poort Museum (www.casteelsepoort.nl) and dates and times are advertised in the local papers. The guided tour is also available in English if a booking for an English guide is made in advance. For more information, check out www.rondleidingenwageningen.nl. The guided walk costs € 3.00 per person. Architectural pointers, history lesson and anecdotes included.