As a Hanseatic city, Zutphen has a rich past. This is immediately apparent as soon as you enter the old inner city of this Gelderland city. Because with that we immediately describe the way to discover Zutphen: walking, at a moderate pace. That way you will see some of the many details that show that Zutphen was once an important trading city through which many goods passed. Its location on the IJssel has ensured that the place where Zutphen now stands was inhabited early on. According to the history books, this part of the IJssel region was already inhabited by the Germans in Roman times. Because Zutphen has been inhabited for more than 1700 years, this is one of the oldest cities in the Netherlands. The favorable location ensured that Zutphen could grow quickly in the Middle Ages. Zutphen received city rights before the end of the twelfth century; rather than the nearby cities of Arnhem and Doetinchem. Zutphen was walled in the thirteenth century.
History drips from Zutphen. According to phonecations.com, the city walls have largely disappeared, but the street pattern clearly shows what Zutphen must have looked like at the end of the Middle Ages. The canals around the historic city center are partly intact. A visit to Zutphen means getting to know an attractive historic city, where you can enjoy nice shops and cozy terraces in addition to the many sights. For example at the lively Groenmarkt. The advantage of Zutphen is that the most important sights are largely gathered within a fairly compact historic center. This makes Zutphen an excellent city trip destination for tourists who want to see and do something, but want to be a mile-eater.
We are happy to present the top 10 sights of Zutphen to our readers. Our advice is not to let this list of highlights guide you in Zutphen. Above all, try to take in the atmosphere of the city at your leisure and give your eyes a good living. The historic inner city of Zutphen has numerous monumental buildings and facade decorations, such as the gable stone on the Rokende Moor.
Top 10 sights of Zutphen
#1. City walls
If you come to Zutphen by car, the car park at Houtwal (behind the police station) is the best place to park. This affordable car park is within walking distance of the city centre. The big advantage of parking at this location is that you end up at the most beautiful spot in Zutphen when you walk around the Vispoortgracht. You will then arrive at the place where the Marinetsingel connects to the Vispoortplein. This place provides a beautiful picture: the view of the still intact part of the old city wall, and behind it the Sint-Walburgis church. This picture immediately takes you back centuries in time. As far as we are concerned, you cannot have a better introduction to historic Zutphen.
#2. Berkel gate
The Berkelpoort, located on the east side of the center, is a second photogenic piece of historic Berkelpoort due to its free location. This water gate dates from the fourteenth century. It spans the small river Berkel. The Berkelpoort is one of the remains of the city wall that formed a fortress around the old city. It is thanks to two large-scale restorations that we can now see what this beautiful medieval gate looked like in the past. The morning is the best time to photograph the Berkelpoort. The sun then shines on the gate from the east.
#3. Winery tower
The Wijnhuistoren is one of the most striking buildings in Zutphen. With a height of 47 meters and its central location, this stone tower is quite prominent. Don’t be fooled by the fact that Zutphen’s oldest buildings date from the Middle Ages. The Wijnhuistoren was ‘only’ built between 1615 and 1641. This tower belonging to the winery replaced a fifteenth century turret that was significantly less imposing. The Wijnhuistoren was part of the winery. It also served as a weigh house and was a place where punishments were carried out. Nowadays there is a restaurant in the winery. The Wijnhuistoren can be climbed several times a week under the supervision of a guide. There is another way to explore the Wijnhuistoren: through the ears. During the day, the carillon of the Wijnhuistoren sounds every 15 minutes.
#4. Old Bornhof
Zutphen has numerous courtyards. The Agnietenhof, the Ruitershofje and the Luthershofje are among the sights in Zutphen that give an idea of what life is like in such a place. If you look purely at atmosphere and design, we think the Oude Bornhof is the most beautiful of all the courtyards that can still be seen in Zutphen. In one way or another, the various buildings around the court form a beautiful whole. If you walk into the Oude Bornhof on a pleasant day, consider enjoying a drink on the terrace. Here you can enjoy your order in peace, while life seems to go on elsewhere in the city.
#5. Saint Walburgis Church
The Sint-Walburgiskerk, locally also called Walburgkerk, is the oldest still existing church in Zutphen. The oldest part of the church dates from the eleventh century. Most of it was added at the beginning of the thirteenth century. The church tower has a height of 76 meters. It used to be 117 meters, making it the highest church tower in the Netherlands. Showpiece within the now Protestant church is the Bader organ. This main organ of the Sint-Walburgiskerk dates from 1639 and is a fine example of early baroque. A unique part of the Sint-Walburgiskerk is the Librije. This a medieval chain library. A chain library is a library in which the books are chained to prevent them from being taken out of the library. There were quite a few chain libraries in the Middle Ages. Now the Librije van Zutphen is one of the three chain libraries that remain worldwide.
#6. Drying cap tower
The Drogenapstoren is one of the remaining medieval buildings in Zutphen that were part of the perimeter wall. When it was built in the mid-fifteenth century, the Drogenapstoren was still called Saltpoort. It then served as a city gate for only nineteen years, after which it was bricked up. After that, the tower was given the name Drogenapstoren, after the busker who lived in Zutphen in the early sixteenth century. His statue now stands in front of the tower. The Drogenapstoren you see now is slightly different from the medieval version. The dormers in the spire have not returned after the restoration that was necessary because the Germans had partly blown up the tower during World War II.
#7. IJssel quay
Zutphen is located on the IJssel. Thanks to this river, the city was able to join the Hanseatic League during the Middle Ages. At that time, the IJssel was the lifeline through which Zutphen experienced economic prosperity. Today, this important waterway is mainly a place for recreation on and on. Commercial shipping still takes place on the IJssel, but this is much less important for Zutphen these days. The recently refurbished IJsselkade is a beautiful place to enjoy the view over the IJssel. In the southwest corner, a cannon is a reminder of the time when the IJssel was part of the fortifications around the city.
#8. Museums Zutphen
Do you want to dive into the history of Zutphen and enjoy art? Then a visit to Museums Zutphen is highly recommended. The Municipal Museum and the Museum Henriette Polak have been merged in the Hof van Heeckeren city palace. The Stedelijk Museum is a cultural history museum that chronologically and thematically tells the story of the city of Zutphen. In addition to the permanent collection, this fascinating museum also has room for changing exhibitions. Museum Henriette Polak is a museum for modern-classical painting and sculpture.
#9. Whisper boat trip
From the water you see a different side of Zutphen. The whisper boat offers you the opportunity to discover the city and its history from the water. From the Rijkenhage, which in itself is a beautiful spot in Zutphen, several boats depart per day in the period from 1 April to 31 October. You can buy the tickets for the approximately 1-hour cruise in advance via the internet or purchase them on site at the Leeuwenhuisje.
#10. Burgundy tower
The Bourgonjetoren is a well-preserved remnant of the fortifications of the Hanseatic city of Zutphen. It is the tower where the cannons used to be. The Bourgonjetoren is a semi-circular tower with a height of 12 meters and a wall thickness of no less than four metres. The year of construction is 1457. The tea dome on top of the tower was installed there after the Bourgonjetoren lost its military function. Baron van Heeckeren received permission to build this tea dome in the mid-eighteenth century. From here he could enjoy the view over the IJssel while enjoying a cup of tea.