’s-Hertogenbosch (or as locals call it, Den Bosch) is the capital of the Dutch province Noord-Brabant. The city’s official name is a contraction of the Dutch “des Hertogen bosch” – the Duke’s forest. The Duke in question was Duke Hendrik I of Brabant, who’s family owned an estate in Orthen (close to the actual venue of the EBC 2019) for at least four centuries. He granted the city, founded where the rivers Aa and Dommel meet, its city rights in 1185. Originally the city was built as a fortress, it was destroyed and a much larger wall was rebuilt in the 14thcentury. Some remains of this wall can be seen today within walking distance of the venue… Artificial waterways were dug to serve as a city moat.
In 1463 the ‘s-Hertogenbosch suffered a catastrophic fire. It was rebuilt again and the city flourished until 1520. It was the 2ndlargest city in the Netherlands and became a centre of art, music and composers. Den Bosch was the birthplace and home of one of the greatest painters of the northern renaissance: Hieronymus Bosch. Scattered all over the city his art can be seen in the most unexpected places…
During most of the 80 years’ war ‘s-Hertogenbosch remained an independent bishopric. Desired by several parties but successfully defended. Until Frederik Hendrik van Oranje in 1629 finally conquered it in the Dutchest way possible: he diverted the rivers Aa and Dommel, created a polder by building a 40-kilometre dyke and pumped out the water by using mills. After a siege of 3 months the city had to surrender.
During the centuries that followed consecutively the Dutch, the French and the Prussians ruled the city. Until in 1815 the United Kingdome of the Netherlands was established and ‘s-Hertogenbosch became the capital of North-Brabant. In the years that followed a new canal was dug that ran further into the countryside. It gave the city’s economy a boost and industry, manufacturing and trade flourished.
Underneath the city lies a magical network of historic canals, the Binnendieze, that once spanned 22 kilometres. It can be discovered only by boat, as houses and streets were built over large parts of it due to lack of space in the city. After World War II, plans were made to modernise the old city, by filling in the canals, removing or modifying some ramparts and redeveloping historic neighbourhoods. Before these plans could come to effect however, the central government declared the city a protected townscape. Most historic elements have been preserved. Because the main ramparts are crucial in keeping out the water, they have never been slighted, their usual fate in the Netherlands. In contrast to cities like Rotterdam, 's-Hertogenbosch also survived the Second World Warrelatively unscathed. Much of its historic heritage remains intact, and today there are always renovations going on in the city to preserve the many old buildings, fortifications, churches and statues for later generations. In 2004 the city was awarded the title European Fortress City of the year.
As the historical city centre of Den Bosch is relatively small, all sights are within reasonable walking distance. And as you walk from A to B, look around you, there is lots to see. Look for strange works of art by Jeroen Bosch (some can be found under street level…), wall paintings, small canals and see throughs. And don’t forget to stop for coffee and a “bossche bol” or some local beers at one of the many terraces.
You could get yourself a Lonely Planet, but the city is very tourist friendly. Signs will guide you in the right direction and will tell you how far you need to go. If time is limited and choices must be made, we recommend you to do the following:
For more information go to www.bezoekdenbosch.nl/nl