There is so much more to the Netherlands than clogs, tulips and windmills, though these might be the first things that spring to mind when thinking about the Netherlands, a small country tucked between Germany and Belgium.
Utrecht is Netherlands centre of religion and has several elaborate churches, the most notable being Dom Church. The city centre has retained many medieval structures but the city is also forward looking with a thriving arts scene and plays host to the Netherlands Film Festival. Over the other side of the Netherlands is Rotterdam, named European Capital of Culture in 2001. The waterfront of this city is smart and teams with shops, restaurants and a buzzing nightlife. Rotterdam also has some innovative architecture including the cube houses, the Euromast which has an observation platform nearly 100m high, and the Erasmus Bridge which links the two parts of the city.
If you happen to be visiting the Netherlands in June, check out the Holland Festival which takes place in various venues across Amsterdam. It is the largest drama event in the country and showcases over 40 productions from opera and theatre to dance and music.
The Netherlands used to be part of the Low Countries which included Belgium and Luxembourg, but it was not until the late 16th century when the Dutch broke away from their Spanish Hapsburg masters and entered the Golden Age. It was here where trade prospered, the arts flourished, and banking and investment grew to enormous heights.
As with all good things, it did not last and the Netherlands saw a massive decline in fortune during the 17th and 18th centuries. However now the country is a force to be reckoned with and has a capital city that is a centre for business and international finance. This has a lot to do the Dutch seeming to have a natural talent for languages, and English, regarded as the international language, is spoken perfectly by most of them.
The Netherlands: Travel facts
Approximate Air Distance: 10,486 km
Approximate Flight Duration: 12 hrs 50 min
Busiest Airports: Departure from Singapore International Airport (SIN) / Arrival at Schiphol Airport (AMS)
Major Airlines: Air France, Thai Airways International, British Airways, Air Berlin, Eva Airways, etc.
Tourist Destinations: Amsterdam, Utrecht, Delft, Rotterdam, etc.
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