Groenlo is a city, also belonging to the municipality of Oost-Gelre. In The Achterhoek we often call it ‘Grolle’. Groenlo was arised in the beginning of the 7th century (610) when the Saxony’s came to The Achterhoek. The name Groenlo means in Dutch: a green (hardwood) forest. In the 16th and 17th century Groenlo was a strong fortress and a thriving frontier town. During the Eighty Years’ War the city was often under siege. It was captured by the Spanish a couple of times, in 1627 Frederik Hendrik (Prince of Orange) reconquered the city back again, for good this time. This battle is well known as ‘The Siege of Grolle’. In the city you can find a lot of remains from the time Groenlo was a fortress.
That brings me to the famous event, De Slag Om Grolle (the Siege of Grolle). Every two years this historic happening is imitated on a real battlefield for a whole weekend. The hundreds of re-enactors come from all over the world, like Australia! They stay in oldfashioned soldierscamps around the town. The whole city is decorated and full of acting volunteers, you will be thrown back into the 17th century yourself. Every other year this event attract ten thousands of visitors. On the official website you can find more information and buy the entrance ticket. www.slagomgrolle.nl/en
Groenlo has a very good and big camping site and bungalow vacation houses, Marveld Recreation. You can find a great swimmingpool, several restaurants and shuttle service. Unfortunatly their website is only in Dutch and German language. For the impression go to the website, if you have any questions or want to stay their I will guide you. www.marveld.nl
In the surrounding of the city there are a lot of beautiful hikingpaths, for example around the national park called ‘The Leemputten’ (clay pit). You can also go on the water by a pedal boat, or stay on the shore for some carp fishing. I can give you advice about all of them. www.de-leemputten.nl
When you visit Groenlo don’t forget to look down in the centre of the city! In the street you can find bronze medals with a special code. On the corresponding website you can enter each code, it will tell you something about the history where the medal is placed. The campingsite I told you about, Marveld, also has a medal. On the website there is a map where you can locate all the medals, unfortunatly not in English (I will request that). www.muntenroute.nl/munten
Don’t forget to taste the beer of Groenlo and The Achterhoek, Grolsch. Best bottle of beer ever. www.grolsch.nl/
And before you go home buy yourself some authentic and local knitted articles. www.grolsewanten.nl
Groenlo Vestingstad Promotion is the perfect place to start any group activity. They organize guided tours, for example on foot through the city or by bus through The Achterhoek. They have lots of different activities for families, children, coworkers or bachelors. They know the city of Groenlo very well, and will do everything whithin reach to give you a perfect day. www.groepsuitjesgroenlo.nl
Of course I like telling you all about my hometown, Lichtenvoorde. It is the biggest town of the municipality Oost-Gelre, which lies in The Achterhoek (and belongs to the province Gelderland). Once there was a castle Lichtenvoorde, build in 1312. The name Lichtenvoorde means in Dutch: a light fordable place. The remains of the castle are not visible anymore, there are public vegetable gardens now.
Lichtenvoorde is very famous for a couple of things. First of all because of The Flower Parade, wich takes place every year on the second sunday of september. The self constructed vehicles are decorated with millions of flowers (Dahlia’s). There are 18 different teams who participate in the parade, all volunteers and working on their construction for almost the entire year! On the main website you can find more information yourself. Near the centre of Lichtenvoorde you will find the special Flowergarden where you can find information about the flowerparade, the dahlia’s and a statue. Don’t forget to take a selfie! www.bloemencorso.com/en
The second famous festival is De Zwarte Cross (Black Cross Festival). Three days of motorcross, live-music, theatre and a lot of spectacle. Just bring the kids along, because there is a lot to do for them also. From Thursday afternoon until Monday morning you can stay at campingsite the ‘Walhalla’. Tickets are sold out very quickly, even in the pre-sale. The official website is the only safe place to buy your ticket! www.zwartecross.nl/en/home-2
In the centre, at the market square, there’s lying a big stray boulder. It weighs over 20.000 kilograms! The inmmense rock was brought here by copplers from Lichtenvoorde, from a field about 4 kilometres distance. It was used as a stand during the 25th goverment anniversary of King Willem III (12th of May that year). Because of this happening Lichtenvoorde is also called ‘bouldercity’, and the inhabitants got the nickaname ‘bouldertuggers’. Now hese days yo can see a lion with the municipal arms on top of the rock. Don’t forget to take a selfie! In the centre you will also find lots of bars and restaurants.
Since 2017 we have a great new activity in The Achterhoek, The Gnome Trail! In Lichtenvoorde, Groenlo, Zieuwent, Bredevoort en Winterswijk there a special hiking paths to follow. On the route you will find small, beautiful decorated front doors. Behind the doors are beautiful stories to discover! The Gome Trail is conceptualized by Joske Elsinghorst- van Huet. To accomplish the hiking paths she is cooperating with local artists. The Gnome Trail Guide is available at the tourist information shops (VVV stores). In the website shop you can buy your own personal Gnome front door! www.kabouterroute.nl
Sometimes you can even hear the sound of French chansons in Lichtenvoorde! Sometimes outside, sometimes in the church. Played on a little organ, the lyrics sung bij Xandra. She is a great entertainer from Lichtenvoorde, known as ‘The Orque de Barbarie. During the summer she travels through France with her vintage caravan, performing and looking for new chansons. www.orguedebarbarie.nl
The AVOG’s Crash Museum has a large collection of books and documentaries about the airstrikes during World War II. In the briefing room the museum shows a non-stop movie about the aerial war above The Achterhoek. Besides this self-produced movie the museum owns a lot more imagery and photographs. In the exposition room you can see all kinds of parts from the crashed airplanes, as well as equipment from inside the planes. www.crashmuseum.nl/uk.html
In Lichtenvoorde you will find a lovely little shop selling minerals, crystals and gemstones. Besides that you can buy jewellery, postcards and all sorts of gifts. The shop is an experience by itself, like a little museum! Therefor the name is The Stone Museum Shop. www.stenenmuseumwinkeltje.nl
Lievelde is a so called church village, belonging to the municipality Oost-Gelre. In Lievelde you will find the trainstation, from here you can travel to Arnhem for example. Although it’s a small village, they have a lot to offer. Every year in may the soapbox derby is a big happening in town.
In Lievelde you will find the Open-air Museum Erve Kots with a pancake restaurant. and hotel. Originaly the museum was an inn. During the Siege of Grolle (see ‘about Groenlo’) Erve Kots was the headquarter of Prince Frederik Hendrik from Orange and his state army. In the open-air-museum you will see how a Saxon farmer used to live and work (great-grandfather of the current owner). There are several houses, barns and factory’s like a lumberyard. The discovery of a grave from the 7th century on the farmyard was the reason to open the museum. Since 2018 they have a new activity: The Beer-Experience. With interactive challenges you will discover everything about the Erve Kots brewery, the beer and the history behind it. Look on the websites for an impression. Ask me anything you want to know. www.museumervekots.nl
Right across Erve Kots you can visit the Dairyfarm Weenink. In the little shop they sell their own produced cheese, dairy and other local products. The offer a lot of activity’s like Farmers Golf, archery and a tour with kickbikes. Dairyfarm Weenink also has a restaurant and it’s even an official place to get married! The website might give you a impression. www.kaasboerderijweenink.nl
In Lievelde is a wonderfull biological hotel, The Biotel. The hotel stands on the farmyard of the Arink Family. They run a ecological dairyfarm, producing their own special cheese for example. Farmer John will be happy to tell you all about it. The biotel is build in a special way, with only organic materials like straw and loamy clay. There for it’s unique in this province. In the restaurant you can enjoy a nice biological meal, with or without meat. Farmer’s wife Liane gives all kind of workshops. In the area are a lot of hiking paths. www.biotelachterhoek.nl
The ‘Engelse Schans’ (English Entrenchment) is a reconstructed entrenchment wich was used during the Siege of Grolle in the Eighty Years’ War. It’s a great place for walking. Climbing the lookout tower will give you a awesome view over the area. You will find a little bit of English information on the website. www.engelseschans.nl
Last but not least is ‘Megapret’. The kids will love this! A huge indoor playground, as well as one outside. In the outside one there is a waterplayground during the summer. The minituregolf course is a very special one, it has all kinds of farmers equipment functioning as obstacles. Parents can relax in the restaurant or at the terrace. www.megapret.nl
Vragender is a church village, belonging to the municipality Oost- Gelre. The village is situated on a push- moraine and therefore it lies about ten meters higher as Lichtenvoorde. Vragender has a unique natural area, called the Vragender Moor. It is the only living (still growing) highmoor in the Netherlands (together with three other nearby peaty soils). There are special walking tours with experienced guides possible. www.vragenderveen.nl
In the village you can find the ruin of The St. Jacobs Chapel. The state monument was mentioned for the first time in a document from the year 1444. The other state monument in the village is the (still operating) corn-mill called ‘The Four Winds’. The run a little shop where you can buy local products.
A very popular event in Vragender takes place on the second saturday of november. It’s called ‘Gengelen in Vragender’, a hiking-tour over private properties and farmyards. Gengelen is a dialect word which means ‘strolling’. Afterwards there’s time to chat, eat and drink.
The village has a great ‘restaurant boulevard’! Three outstanding places to eat and drink in a row. www.cafeoverkamp.nl
If you’re looking for original group activities this is the place to be. www.beneman.nl
Zieuwent is just like Lievelde a church-village belonging to the municipality Oost-Gelre. The name means ‘marshland’. The 2000 inhabitants are very much involved in the collective activities of their village. Zieuwent counts over 60 associations! The biggest happening is the St. Matthew Passion, wich is performed every year in the catholic St. Werenfridus church of Zieuwent.
The St. Werenfridus Church is well known as ‘the cathedral of The Achterhoek’. On the 30th of june 1898 the people of the town began building the church, on 10 october 1899 the hugh building was finished and adepted. If you stand in front of the cathedral, it’s hard to imagine it only took such a short period! The tower of the neogothic style church is 75 meters high. In Zieuwent there are a lot of beautiful hiking paths, called the churchpaths. If you walk them, you’ll never loose sight of the tower. On my Facebook, in the photoalbum Zieuwent, you will find some photographs of the interior I took during a tour through the cathedral.
I have walked these churchpaths myself several times, it’s something you have to do for yourself. The small paths through the fields were used by the villagers who lived in the outside area’s of Zieuwent. A special foundation keeps he paths in the best state possible, all voluntarily. If you follow the link, you will see a map of Zieuwent, all the orange stripes are churchpaths. www.kerkepadenzieuwent.nl/Kaart_Zieuwentse_kerkepaden_2017.pdf
There is also a really nice guided bicycle tour, the ‘Droebel Tocht’. If you take a closer look at the landscape of Zieuwent, you will notice that all the farms are situated in groups, from two till four farms at the most. In Dutch they are called ‘Droebels’, which means ‘clew’, a clew of farms. The small groups of farms arose on higher grounds, mostly surrounded by wet and lower situated grounds. The first farm in the clew was built by the founder, the later farms are always family related. Around 1800 there were about 30 clews (Droebels) of farms in Zieuwent, the meadows in between. After the redistribution of land in the ’60’s and ‘70’s a lot of those small groups of farms disappeared, many of the old farms were demolished. Some of them however remained, the guide will tell you all about them and how the mutual aid is still very important in Zieuwent. Because of that this small village still has their own supermarket and bakery shop. www.mijngelderland.nl/inhoud/verhalen/droebeldorp-zieuwent
There are some very populair events for the children every year: Dirtday, Storytelling festival and hammering a village out of wood. For the grown-ups the Easter Popfestival, followed by the Easterfire, are far out the biggest happenings every year.