We <3 Zwolle

Anita’s work frequently takes her to Zwolle, a city of about 120,000 in the western half of the Netherlands. Will tags along, as often as he can.

We like Zwolle, a lot.

The Bugle accepted no promotional considerations from the tourist board or anything. Will just thinks that a public declaration of our fondness for Zwolle is appropriate at this time.

Zwolle is an old place, inhabited well before the Ancient Romans came. It was granted city status in the 8th Century. It was a prosperous trading town and joined the Hanseatic League in 1407. Here’s one way to consider its historical role: Amsterdam was established in the 13th Century and thrived, in part, due to trade with the more prominent Zwolle.

The oldest part of Zwolle is bounded by a star-shaped moat, crowded with boats of all sizes. The moat connects to the typical Dutch canals surrounding the city, making the whole place feel like the ideal Dutch town.

The area inside the moat is crowded with pedestrian-only retail areas and historical sites. Lots of little shops to catch your eye, some outstanding restaurants, frequent markets, and lots of possibilities for people-watching.

There’s an impressive number of long-standing buildings, with great stories attached to each one. We recommend “Footprints from a Distant Past” available in English from the VVV (which means Tourist Information bureau) attached to the Grote Kerk (which means Big Church, so you can’t miss it).

Zwolle’s apparently commonplace residential areas and suburbs are something special for us, too. The bicycle-road network is standard Dutch, with complex intersections that privilege bikes over cars (and over walkers). If you just tool around the outer parts of the city, you’ll see teenagers holding hands while they bike to school, families traveling in an amazing variety of work-bikes, and a host of little details that make Zwolle distinctive.

And if you’re tired of people, it’s a short trip into the countryside. You’ll feel safe on the bike trails — and the orientation system means you’ll have to work to get lost.

Since we show our love through photos, we put a photoset on Flickr with descriptions and stuff.

By the way, if you’re in the mood for springtime photos from the Netherlands, consider revisiting our post on the Keukenhof from last year!

3 Comments to “We <3 Zwolle”

  1. Jane Hughey said...
    9 May 2011

    (Katherine’s mom) — Seriously Will, you need to see if you can publish a book. I think it is extremely entertaining and greatly informative!

  2. Dave said...
    9 May 2011

    Eight bikers at an intersection? Awesome. I went on a ride this weekend and saw 6 other bikers in an hour.

  3. Amanda said...
    9 May 2011

    Ooh. Looks delightful. I have decided I really like the Netherlands.