Groningen

About Groningen

Groningen is the capital of the province of Groningen, the north easternmost province of the Netherlands. Being the largest urban center in the area, with a level of facilities that can only be found in major cities, make Groningen the regional centre for more than half a million people.

The center of Groningen has been preserved and its attraction lies in a contrast between old and new. Founded in the 11th century, it has one of the oldest universities (1614) in the Netherlands. Its status as a major Dutch educational center has imbued Groningen with a vibrant arts scene, vibrant nightlife and a wealth of fascinating museums. Cars are banned from the picturesque historic centre. Part of this area was destroyed during WWII; however, many of the medieval and 16th and 17th century structures survived.

Groningen makes you feel at home. The city centre has no fewer than 160 bars, cafés, discotheques, and scores of open-air terraces on which to enjoy a balmy summer evening. There is something for everyone from the traditional Dutch ‘brown café’ to trendy bars. And because Groningen is the ‘youngest’ city in the Netherlands (over half the population are under thirty-five) these bars are not only lively at weekends, but on weekdays as well. Naturally, the city centre is not all bars and cafés, it is also a district in which people live, work, shop and soak up a lot of culture.

Sights and activities

Groningen Museum
The Groningen Museum is located opposite the main station and is one of the most high-profile museums in the Netherlands. This is due not only to its striking design by Italian architect Mendini, but also because of varying exhibitions from all over the world. The permanent collection consists of a large assembly of porcelain and works by the Groningen artists’ collective De Ploeg. Here you can find information about opening hours and ongoing exhibitions.

Martini church and tower
The most important Groningen monument is the Martini tower which has overlooked the city for over 750 years. You can climb the stairs of this fourth highest tower of the Netherlands up to the third gallery. Afterwards, see the Martini church, the largest church in Groningen. Built around 1230, it still features frescos from the 13th century, and one of the largest Baroque organs in northwest Europe.

Prinsenhof and Prinsentuin
Originally used as a monastery, it is now converted into a 4-star hotel. Behind the Prinsenhof is the Prinsenhoftuin, consisting of a beautiful rose garden and herb garden, and a box tree arbour. The garden, surrounded by a wall, is one of the best examples of Renaissance gardens in the Netherlands. The Prinsenhoftuin garden is opened from early April to half-October from 10 am to sunset. There is also a tearoom, which is opened when the weather allows it.

Goudkantoor (gold office)
Originally a provincial tax office, this building was built in 1635. With its lavishly decorated façades, it was the last Renaissance style building to be constructed in Groningen. It was given the name of Goudkantoor in the 19th century when the “bureau of security for gold and silver” was located here, and it is now a café and restaurant.