He proudly looks out over the square. An artist palette in one hand, a brush in the other. The medieval master painter Hieronymus Bosch, ‘s-Hertogenbosch’ most famous “son”, has been immortalised on the Markt square. This is the place where I begin my visit to the capital of Brabant; the start of a two-day visit full of art, culture and delicious food.
I regularly pop into ‘s-Hertogenbosch, usually for an afternoon of shopping or a nice dinner. But what do I really know about this city? Not much yet, as it turns out. Because I’d never really even looked at the statue of the famous painter on the Markt square. This time I take in the city from a completely different perspective. Armed with the Heritage 's-Hertogenbosch Route App I walk along the highlights of the city in an hour and a half, of course with the necessary stops.
The walk starts with a stroll from the Markt via the city walls towards district Uilenburg. I have never visited this district before and yet it turns out to be the most beautiful part of the centre. Once a district full of warehouses and activity, it is now a relief to leave the busy shopping streets for these idyllic alleyways. Uilenburg turns out to be a neighbourhood full of hidden gems. Cruise boats bob up and down the Binnendieze canal as I walk past boutiques and antique shops and peek inside Brewery Boegbeeld, led by female brewers and famous for its feminist beer ‘Kutbier’.
The route takes you along special courtyard gardens, such as the former monastery garden Stadspark Mariënburg and the Jeroen Bosch garden. This 'Garden of Earthly Delights', full of lush rose bushes and colourful artwork, is a reference to the world-famous triptych by Bosch. The painting now hangs in the Prado in Madrid, but you can also enjoy his art in 's-Hertogenbosch.
Need a break? Around the corner of Begijnstraatje you will find the colourful Eetbar DIT, with its lovely outdoor dining area!
If you love art, stroll past St John's Cathedral and head to the museum quarter. Het Noordbrabants Museum allows you to discover the story of Hieronymus Bosch and, through his works and those of other artists, also get good idea of the history of the city. In addition, Het Noordbrabants Museum also shows works and objects that are connected with the province of North Brabant. Vincent van Gogh is, of course, one of them. The Van Gogh exhibition takes you on a journey through his life, from his emergence as a wannabe-painter from Brabant to a world-famous master painter. A remarkable insight into his life with original works and a touching presentation of Van Gogh's fascination with peasant life, accompanied by beautiful texts by Marieke Lucas van Rijneveld.
In the museum, but also through the many monuments in the city centre, the marks left by Hieronymus Bosch and Van Gogh in Brabant come to life. Seen enough paintings for today? Then 's-Hertogenbosch has a lot more to offer. I continue my walk in the direction of the Tramkade quayside; formerly the home of a feed factory, the factory buildings and silos now form a cultural highlight of the city.
The temperature is approaching 25 degrees when I reach Tramkade via Waterkant (also worth a stop!). Here at the quayside the pleasant temperatures prompt people to plant their feet in the sand, put some music on and have some cold beers. On the Diezekade you can enjoy pubs Costa del Silo or Barkade and at the Bossche Brouwers everything is set up for a great evening. Don't miss out on the Werkwarenhuis; a creative meeting place and home to restaurant Van Aken and more. In this characteristic pink former factory you can sit yourself down on furniture by Piet Hein Eek, eat from designer plates and above all enjoy the nice vibes in this creative part of 's-Hertogenbosch.
After a pleasant drink I head to the Paleiskwartier for dinner. Because although the inner city is teeming with good restaurants, restaurant Pollevie is worth a detour. Chef and owner Martin Berkelmans' concept revolves entirely around vegetables. Whereas in most restaurants they serve purely as garnish, here they play the leading role. Not a vegetarian? Don’t worry. There’s meat and fish, but always together with remarkable vegetable creations. A host of delicious dishes and wines makes my evening fly by.
Time to go to my accommodation for my 's-Hertogenbosch weekend. I spend the night at hotel Soete Moeder (sweet mother); a unique monastery hotel where you imagine yourself to be far away from the hustle and bustle even though you are actually only a stone’s throw from the city centre. Guests can catch a glimpse of the building’s special history, while enjoying a comfortable overnight stay in one of the 24 rooms. I wake up here with a home-made breakfast in the monastery garden while I peruse a map of the area. Because today I'm leaving the city and going to explore the countryside.
A big plus for 's-Hertogenbosch is its location in the middle of an area with nature reserves, castles, forts and beautiful villages. This makes the destination ideal for combining a day in the city with a day out in the country. And I’m not doing that by car or bike, but by e-chopper. This environmentally friendly scooter with ultra-thick tyres and a maximum speed of 25 km/h will take you to the nicest places around town in an unusual and relaxed way. I choose a route past the classic beauty of Heeswijk Castle to the trendy CHV De Noordkade in Veghel.
And so from Soete Moeder I whizz along the cycle paths on my e-chopper and soon the city centre makes way for green surroundings. I follow the water of the river Aa, take a shortcut on unpaved paths near the Wamberg Estate and pass by the Meiereijsche Museumboerderij, which showcases what peasant life in the Brabant Meierij was like around 1900. Soon after I see Heeswijk Castle looming up in front of me. With a view of the almost 1000 year old castle and surrounded by beautiful castle gardens I enjoy a cool drink in the outdoor dining area. The castle is also a Nature Gate, which means it is the starting point for beautiful walking routes through the area.
Tip: just like e-bikes, e-choppers have a battery. You can easily recharge them at e-bike charging stations along the way. Many catering establishments are part of the Brabant bicycle cafés network and provide charging stations. Heeswijk Castle is one of them.
From Heeswijk it's just under 10 kilometers to the Noordkade quayside in Veghel. On the way I make a stop at Kilsdonk Mill, which is in full operation today. After a beautiful route through the green landscape I arrive in a very different setting around lunchtime. From this once deserted industrial zone in Veghel a creative bastion has emerged where you can enjoy art, culture and delicious food in a unique location. It is the Tramkade times two; with towering factory buildings where entrepreneurs now cook, brew gin, roast coffee and make music.
A walk through the maze of halls, staircases and corridors is really fun, because something is happening everywhere. Keep your eyes open on the way, because the history of this place is still visible everywhere. I spot delicatessen shops between the palm trees, in the basement I find Schouten distillery and at Café De Afzakkerij I admire the interior which has given materials from the factory a second life. All the market stands, shops and eateries together are called De Proeffabriek, the tasting factory, and there is a story everywhere. So drop in for a chat with an enthusiastic entrepreneur or download the app Proeffabriek Audiotour!
After a lunch at Café De Afzakkerij I get back on my e-chopper to drive back to 's-Hertogenbosch through the countryside. Curious about more beautiful routes with interesting sights in the area? From the centre of 's-Hertogenbosch you can easily drive to the Bossche Broek, IJzeren Man and the National Monument Camp Vught. If you do not want to go out with an e-chopper but you do want to be in the countryside, then a walking route through nature reserve De Moerputten is highly recommended!