The Groningen countryside is glorious in every season. In the spring, the meadows are awash with yellow rapeseed, the potatoes flower in the summer, and the ripening wheat turns the meadows from a fresh green colour to a beautiful burnt gold. The countryside also has plenty of opportunities for cultural-historical visits. Here are a few tips:
Appingedam is a wonderful small, 800-year old town, famous for its hanging kitchens and bustling Saturday market in the mediaeval centre, selling fresh local vegetables and cheese.
In the Appingedam municipal museum you can learn all about the local history.
From 1 April to 30 September, the Damster ferry can take you on a tour of the picturesque canals.
Groningen used to boast around 200 'borgs'- summer residences belonging to the aristocracy. Sixteen of them remain, four of which now house museums. The finest borgis in Slochteren, quite close by. It is called the Fraeylemaborg. Not only is the interior stunning, but the borg hosts regular exhibitions and you can enjoy long walks through the extensive woods and parkland, designed in the English country style.
Nearby, in Appingedam, you can experience what it was like to live in a borg by going for dinner or High Tea at Landgoed Ekenstein. The borg at Ekenstein offers affordable grandeur and is the only borg that provides overnight accommodation.
More information: www.groningerborgen.nl
The province of Groningen has the best preserved mediaeval churches in the world. The ‘Old Churches of Groningen Foundation’ manages most of these churches, regularly organizing festivals, music, theatre and exhibitions in the churches. More information is available on the ‘Old Churches of Groningen Foundation’ (Stichting Oude Groninger Kerken (SOGK)) website.
Schnitger organs and concerts
Many of the old Groningen churches have organs made by the famous organ builder Arp Schnitger (1648-1719). In those days, Groningen farmers were rich enough to have these expensive organs built, and frugal enough to have them restored rather than replaced. The city of Groningen boasts three Schnitger organs, which are often used for concerts. Other famous organs are those built by Albertus Antoni Hintz in Zandeweer (1731), Leens (1733), Appingedam (1744), Midwolda (1772) and Uithuizermeeden (1785).
Not far away, just over the German border in East Friesland, you’ll find lots more churches with organs dating back to the same period. An opportunity not to be missed!
More information: www.schnitgerfestival.nl and www.orgelstad.nl
You don't have to go into the city of Groningen to see beautiful art, although it must be said that the Groninger Museum is definitely worth a visit. Museum Møhlmann in Appingedam is a real treat; it's a private museum of realist and figurative art. The Museum was founded without grants or benefactors by the legendary Rob Møhlmann of the Realism Movement, together with his wife and muse Laura (1949-2010). Museum Møhlmann is based in ‘De Muzeheerd’, a listed building on the outskirts of the historical town of Appingedam.
This 47-metre long ‘head-neck-body’ farmhouse with its adjoining barn annex was built in phases between 1840 and 1870. The entire construction is partially surrounded by a moat and built on a half-hectare plot with its own winding drive and garden with magnificent old trees. Amidst this idyllic setting, the Museum is housed in the main barn and the annex.
Museum Helmantel in Westeremden is also very special. This is the exhibition space and the house of the famous artist Henk Helmantel . Museum Helmantel is housed in the barn part of 'De Weem', or the former rectory farm. The museum is open from 3 May 2018. His website is in Dutch and German, but you can get an impression of his wonderful paintings.
A daytrip to the Island Borkum
From the Eemshaven you can take the ferry in 55 minutes to the German island of Borkum. Great for a day out in all seasons. Stroll along the endless beach or take the bike for a trip through the dunes. Have a drink or dinner in one of the nice Restaurants.
About Borkum: www.borkum.de/allgemein/jahreszeiten/borkum-insel-im-kurzportrait/.
Tickets and information about the ferry: www.ag-ems.de/faehrfahrten/english-schedule.html