Weesp is a small historic town of about 18,000 inhabitants, located in the province of North Holland in the Netherlands, south-east of Amsterdam, on the river Vecht. It was once fortified, and several of the bastions, moats and forts still survive. In the Amsterdam region, Weesp is the nearest small town that has survived as an independent entity. It is only 3 km from the end of the Amsterdam metro, but the wide Amsterdam-Rhine Canal keeps it geographically separate. Weesp is a rail junction, and very easily accessible. The town is surrounded by open grassland.
Although the river Vecht was an important north-south connection since Roman times, this region was mainly a peat bog wilderness until around 1000 AD. Only a few elevated places like riverbanks were (temporarily) inhabited by hunters and fishermen. That changed when the peat was drained and turned into farmland.
Weesp was granted city rights in 1355, and celebrated its 650th anniversary as a city in 2005. It was probably settled several centuries earlier. Its position on the river Vecht influenced its history greatly. From the late Middle Ages, the Vecht was a defensive line for the County of Holland, and it remained a military defensive line until the Second World War. Weesp was strongly fortified, more than its size would justify - for most of its history it had a few thousand inhabitants. The defensive lines consisted of inundation zones, which would be flooded in wartime. Behind them were fortified towns, forts, barracks, and other military structures. The most comprehensive was the Stelling van Amsterdam, a circular inundation zone around Amsterdam. See the website on its history Defence Line of Amsterdam. The defence line is a UNESCO World Heritage Site .
After the Second World War, new housing was built to the west, and an industrial zone with a harbour on the Amsterdam-Rhine Canal. In the 1970s a suburb was built on the south. Since then the town has not expanded. However, a motorway through the fields around the town is now in the planning stage, to connect the A6 and A9 motorways. It was first planned in the 1960s, and to meet environmental objections, some of it would now be in tunnel. Everywhere in the town you will see posters against this project. On the north side of Weesp, the rail line forms a barrier: there is a small housing estate just north of the station, the rest is open fields. A large housing development is planned here, in combination with another west of Muiden, which would make the area definitively suburban. The Tourist Office is at Hoogstraat 10, on the Vecht riverbank. Open Monday 13.00-17.00, Tuesday to Friday 10.00-17.00, and Saturday 10.00-16.00. Tel. (0294) 415427; fax (0294) 418702, .
You can cycle from central Amsterdam to Weesp, 15 km, in an hour. The route is well signposted: from Central Station, follow the cycle direction signs for Almere, along the Prins Hendrikkade, Oostenburgergracht, and Zeeburgerdijk. From the end of Zeeburgerdijk, Weesp is shown on the cycle signs. Cycle along the Amsterdam-Rhine canal for about 7 km, then cross the cycle path on the railway bridge. Turn right under the first underpass toward Weesp, cycle straight on along this road, then turn left along Amstellandlaan.Turn right at the traffic lights, and left after the bridge, toward 'Centrum'.
Weesp is a rail junction where trains from two major lines, the Flevolijn to Flevoland and Drenthe, and the Gooilijn to Amersfoort merge into a common one towards Amsterdam. The town's only station, called simply Weesp, therefore sees intensive service of all local Sprinter trains which stop on their way. One can travel to Weesp on a direct train from many major Dutch cities:
- to/from Amsterdam: four trains per hour, journey time 12 to 16 minutes
- from Utrecht via Hilversum: every 30 minutes, journey time 38 minutes
- from Amersfoort via Hilversum: every 30 minutes, takes 28 minutes
- from Almere: every 15 minutes (Lelystad and Zwolle served every 30 minutes)
- from Schiphol airport via Amsterdam-Zuid: four trains per hour, takes 25 minutes. Two of these trains start from Leiden.
The town centre is 5 minutes walk from the station: go through Stationsplein, (with the bus stops and a city map), turn left into Herensingel, then right onto Stationsweg, on the bank of the Vecht river.
Do note that only Sprinter trains stop in Weesp. Many of the fast Intercity trains on the same busy lines pass through Weesp, but none of them stops there.
Bus 49 connects the Amsterdam metro stations Bijlmer and Gaasperplas with Weesp. Every 30 minutes, but hourly evenings and weekends. From central Amsterdam, the train is always faster, so the service is only beneficial to those wanting to get to or from Weesp from a specific location in southeastern Amsterdam, such as the Bijlmer ArenA.
Line 110 connects Weesp with other major towns in the Vechtstreek region - Muiden, Naarden and Bussum (some runs of the line only reach Muiden). Otherwise, bus lines 106 and 122 run through the small villages south of Weesp.
The small historic centre, and the waterside streets and quays, are the main attraction of Weesp. Specific sights include:
- old Town Hall (1776), Nieuwstraat 41. It houses a small museum for porcelain, (one of the old industries in Weesp), limited opening hours.
- the circular fort at Ossenmarkt (1861), cross the river Vecht by the wooden bridge. See the online images and panorama. The fort is home to a number of private businesses and is not accessible to the public. Behind the fort are two older bastions (circa 1674), Bakkerschans and Nieuw Achtkant (with a view of the windmills).
- 3 windmills (website) in the town (and more in the countryside around). 2 windmills South-East of the centre: Eendragt (Unity) and Vriendschap (Friendship), near each other on the Vecht. They are best seen from the opposite bank, about 10 minutes walk from the centre. Windmill Vriendschap is still used for the production of wheat-flour, can be visited on Saturday. 1 windmill West of the centre: 't Haantje (the rooster), on the bank of the waterway Smal Weesp.
- the 15th-century church, Laurenskerk, Nieuwstraat. The tower is 13th-century.
- former Synagogue, Nieuwstraat 5. Used from 1840 until 29 April 1942, when the Jews of Weesp were deported.
- the moat and eastern bastions, Roozenboom and Draaierschans, built 1674, and now a small park. They are left and right at the end of Nieuwstraat.
- the expendable wooden houses across the moat from the bastions, on Utrechtseweg and Molenpad. An area near city walls and forts was kept clear of vegetation and buildings, to give a clear field of fire. Small houses were allowed, but only of wood, so that the garrison could burn them quickly if the enemy approached.
Other fortifications around Weesp, simplified from the Defence Line of Amsterdam website, are:
- Fort Uitermeer (1845). Protecting the lock of the old canal to 's-Graveland, where it joins the Vecht. On the right bank of the Vecht, 4 km East of Weesp. The fort was blown up after WWII, and is (partly) being restored. You can walk for free around the ruins.
- bunker cluster Uitermeer (1932 and 1939), around the fort. Visible from the main road Weesp-Hilversum (N236), and from the cycle path to Bussum.
- bunker cluster Hakkelaarsbrug (1931), on both sides of the A1 motorway, near the bridge carrying the rail line to Almere. Some visible from the road to Muiderberg.
- bunker cluster Muiderberg (1939), most are hidden in the woods around the village.
- Fort near Hinderdam (circa 1848). On an island in the river Vecht, about 1 km South of the N236 bridge. Not accessible.
- Fort near Nigtevecht (1904). Along the Western side of the Amsterdam-Rhine Canal, 2 km South of Weesp. This fort is generally not open to the public.
Bus 110 takes you from Weesp to the fortified town of Muiden in just 5 minutes, and the medieval Muiderslot castle is another 10 minutes walk from the bus stop. You can also walk along the Vecht river, it would take about an hour from Weesp to the castle (walking the long and most scenic route along the eastern bank of the river).
You can walk across the fields south of Weesp, through the Aetsveldsche Polder, on an old road (Aetsveldseweg). Most of it is unsurfaced. It starts beside the street map, just south of the traffic lights, where the main road (N236) cross the Van Houtenlaan, south of the centre. When you reach the Vecht again, Fort Hinderdam is about 500 m to the left. The planned A6-A9 motorway will cut through this polder. Walk on past the fort, and the road will bring you back to Weesp (via Lage Klompweg and Utrechtseweg).
Cycling around Weesp
If you came from Amsterdam by bike, you can cycle on to Muiden and cycle back from there: that will add about 3 km to the trip. You can also cycle to several villages, the Naardermeer Nature Reserve, and Naarden fortress.
If you arrive in Weesp by train, you can rent a bicycle at the bikeshop at the station. Practical information on cycling in the region on this linkpage. There's also a GoogleMap with a lot of pictures of the region. Look on GoogleMaps (in User-created content) for "Places of interest, just east of Amsterdam".
To cycle eastward out of Weesp: pass the circular fort, and cross the bridge. Turn left to reach Muiden along the right bank of the Vecht. For Muiderberg, Naarden and Bussum, turn right along the ‘s-Gravelandseweg, the right bank of the Vecht.
- for Bussum, continue to the lock at the start of the old canal to ‘s-Graveland. Go right of the lock, and follow the cycle path alongside the canal, and across the fields toward Bussum (12 km).
- otherwise, about 4 km from Weesp (after farm nr. 45), turn left into Keverdijk road. (This is before the lock). Cross the rail line, and after about 1 km, the road forks.
- the right fork, Visserijpad, leads to the entrance of the Naardermeer nature reserve , 6 km from Weesp. To reach Naarden continue along this almost unused road, for another 5 km, past some houses, to an apartment block just inside Naarden. Turn left there, along Koningin Wilhelminalaan, to the fortress.
- the left fork leads past a windmill and across the motorway, go straight on at the traffic lights to Muiderberg (9 km).
For Hilversum, take the Utrechtseweg (Vecht left bank) past the two windmills, then the Lage Klomp weg, and then use the cycle path alongside the main road (Gooilandseweg, N236).
For the small village of Nigtevecht, leave by the Breedstraat, Groeneweg, van Houtenlaan, cross the N236 south of the town centre, and follow the signs. The cycle path is parallel to the Amsterdam-Rhine Canal, with open grassland on the east. This landscape will be cut by the planned motorway. In Nigtevecht (5 km from Weesp), go on through the housing estate to the old section of the village (one street)
- you can cross the Vecht here, by a small free ferry, toward Nederhorst den Berg, but the ferry (pont) has limited hours: 12-13.30 and 15.30-17.30 on weekdays, 12-17.30 weekends.
- for Utrecht follow the cycle sign (in the housing estate, turn right), and then cross the lock which connects the Vecht to the Amsterdam-Rhine Canal. Turn next left into Vreelandseweg, to follow the bank of the Vecht to Utrecht - about 30 km further. (At the village of Vreeland, you should switch to the opposite bank, the road is quieter). The main cycle path from Nigtevecht (24 km) runs alongside the Amsterdam-Rhine Canal.
For the small village of Driemond and the river "Het Gein" Rivers near Amsterdam South East, leave by the Breedstraat, Groeneweg, van Houtenlaan, cross the N236 south of the town centre, and follow the signs to Amsterdam. The cycle path runs parallel to the motorway N236 and crosses the Amsterdam-Rhine Canal via the bridge "Weesperbrug". After the bridge you find the village Driemond on your right hand and the river "Het Gein" on your left hand. If you follow the river "Het Gein" (both sides) you will end up in the village Abcoude. If you ignore the river "Het Gein" and the village Driemond and continue the cycle patch you will enter the South East part of Amsterdam (Amsterdam/Bijlmer).
Several signposted cycle routes pass Weesp. Most are circular routes signposted in one direction, taking several hours. You can start the Plassen Route (lakes route) and the Boerenland Route (farmland route) from the station. (Follow the hexagonal route signs from the corner of Stationsplein and Herensingel). The Plassen Route and the Muiden Route pass the circular fort. One much longer route passes just behind it: the Forten Route, 187 km long, along all the forts of the Stelling van Amsterdam.
Although Weesp is a small town, it does have a local speciality: Weesper moppen, small almond cakes. You can buy them at the bakeries:
- Cor Mühl, Nieuwstad 64
- Wesselman, Breedstraat 23
- Hans Klercq, Slijkstraat 45.
There are a great number of restaurants.
- De Schalkse (Dutch and Lunchroom), Ossenmarkt 12 1381 LX, ☎ . Big terras with a view on the river Vecht. And you can see the circular fort at Ossenmarkt.
- Selene Express (Italian), Slijkstraat 10 1381 BA, ☎ .
- De Koperen Ketel (Dutch), Achteromstraat 6 1381 AV, ☎ .
- Niki (Greek), Hoogstraat 17 1381 VS, ☎ .
- Nelis (Ice salon), Slijkstraat 41 1381 AZ, ☎ .
- Rimini (Italian), Achteromdwarsstraat 4 1381 AW, ☎ .
- De Kroon (Dutch), Nieuwstraat 18 1381 BC, ☎ .
- De Mazzel (Kebab), Slijkstraat 34 1381 BA, ☎ .
- Meyers (Dutch), Nieuwstad 84 1381 CD, ☎ .
- Minevitus (French), Nieuwstad 32 1381 CC, ☎ .
- Rubens (Dutch), Herengr 33 1382 AH, ☎ .
- La Ruelle (French), Oudegracht 3a 1381 CG, ☎ .
- 't Carillon (Lunchroom), Nieuwstraat 36 1381 BD, ☎ .
- Thai Faa Faet (Thai), Dammerwg 6a 1383 HT, ☎ . Outside the city but very good Thai food.
- Tong Ah (Chinees), Gooilandsewg 3 1381 HR, ☎ .
- 't Weesperplein (Dutch), Slijkstraat 43 1381 AZ, ☎ . Very cosy interior. There are trees in the middle of the restaurant. Good service, high-quality food.
- Alhambra (Spanish), Achteromstraat 6-8 1381 AV, ☎ . 17:00 22:00. Closed Monday. Terras available with a view on the Kom.
- El Mejor (Steakhouse), Achteromstraat 8 1381 AV, ☎ . Terras available with a view on the Kom.
There are many bars and pubs in Weesp.
- Cafe 't Gat van Weesp (translated: the Hole of Weesp), Slijkstraat 1 1381AX, ☎ . Pooltable. Terras available with a view on the river Vecht.
- Cafe de Weespermop (Weespermop means the local speciality: small almond cakes), Stationweg10 1382AB, ☎ . Little brown cafe with a pooltable. Terras available with a view on the river Vecht.
- Cafe De Natte Krant (translated: the wet newspaper), Hoogstraat 25 1381 VT Weesp, ☎ . Little brown cafe. Terras available with a view on the river Vecht.
- Cafe 't Helletje (translated: little hell), Stationsweg 13 1382 AA Weesp, ☎ . Interior is very cosy with a big reading table in the centre. Terras available with a view on the river Vecht.
- De Dames Van Amstel (translated: the ladies of the Amstel), Nieuwstad 30 1381 CC Weesp, ☎ . Pooltable and readingtable. Terras available with a view on the canal Oude Gracht.
- Toeters En Bellen (translated: horns and bells), Herengracht 1 1382 AE Weesp, ☎ . Cafe for young people. Big sunny terras available with a view on the river Vecht and the Kom. Closed every Monday.
- Weesper Taveerne, E Du Perronstraat 36 1382 SZ Weesp, ☎ . Outside the centre. No terras. Local people.
- Hotel Het Hart van Weesp, Herengracht 35, ☎ , fax: , e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org. The only hotel in Weesp.
Thanks to its location on a railway junction between provinces and districts, Weesp is a great stopover when travelling between Amsterdam and other nearby locations.
One obvious tip is to combine a stop in Weesp with a trip to Naarden, which has much larger 17th-century fortifications. Take the train to Naarden-Bussum station (4 trains per hour, next stop, 7 minutes), from there it is 30 minutes walk to the bastions and old town centre. (You do not need an extra ticket to stop off at intermediate stations). Naarden and Muiden can also be reached by bus 110 from Weesp station, every half hour. You can also continue from Weesp to explore other towns of Het Gooi, which obviously includes the regional hub Hilversum.
A few minutes longer on the train and you can start exploring the province of Utrecht. Apart from the namesake city, another major destination there is the historic city of Amersfoort. The province is very compact and quite urban, and lends itself very well to exploring on bike.
Weesp is a convenient stop if you are on your way to the province of Flevoland, almost entirely located on land reclaimed in the 20th century and featuring new towns of Almere and Lelystad, which have direct train connections from Weesp and have a number of museums and cultural institutions. Flevoland also features a huge nature reserve, home to Konik horses and many species of birds, as well as former islands of Schokland and Urk with preserved historic heritage. There are also a number of family friendly attractions, including the theme park Walibi Holland in Dronten], and camping places and marinas are to be found all around Flevoland's long coastline.