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Bergen: a Beautiful Small Town in Noord-Holland

Posted on Jan 31, 2022 by

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Dutch Provinces: Noord-Holland

”Discover the Netherlands, Province by Province” project – each month of 2022 is dedicated to one Dutch province.

Bergen is a small town in Noord-Holland, known as “the artists’ village”. Surrounded by beautiful nature, Bergen makes for a good place to stop for refreshment on your way to the sea or the forest and the dunes. Bergen means “mountains” in Dutch, and the dunes in this area are quite high, doing a good job of creating the illusion you are riding through a hilly area (it’s a great place for mountain biking). Bergen used to be the sea destination for artists around 1900, and it was so popular that an art movement known as “de Bergense School” (the Bergen School) started here. We can admire works created by this art movement at the Stedelijk Museum in Alkmaar or Kranenburgh Museum in Bergen. Nowadays, Bergen keeps this art spirit alive by organising arts and crafts fairs in the summer.

The centre of the town is very pretty and lively during weekends and the summer months. The central point is the Ruinekerk, a 15th century church that was looted and destroyed during the Eighty Years’ War and was only partially rebuilt. Nowadays a place for weddings and events, the church’s ruins stand majestic in the centre of Bergen, surrounded by old houses and outdoor restaurants. Bergen is one of my favourite weekend destinations, since I moved to Alkmaar. I can easily bike there or take the bus for a short ride, and I usually go for a pleasant walk in the nearby forest. I like the cosy town, with many beautiful houses: not only the old houses from the centre are picturesque, but the entire place is a collection of beautiful homes, with modern architecture or/and thatched roofs, as well as charming gardens.

If you have the time, you can pay a visit to Museum Kranenburgh, which curates a large collection of art from 1900 to the present, with the ”School of Bergen” as a central point.

From Bergen you can walk straight into Bergerbos forest, and from there enter the Noordhollands Duinreservaat (North Holland dunes and forest reservation). Visiting Bergerbos is free, while for the Duinreservaat you’ll need to buy a ticket. It’s a relatively big area, stretching all the way to Bergen aan Zee (a gorgeous beach, not very crowded).

Other beautiful nature areas close to Bergen are Geestmerambacht and Schoorl Dunes. As you can see, this little place is very lucky with its position in the region. No wonder that every summer Bergen is packed with German tourists, coming to spend the holiday on the Dutch coast!

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