Nijmegen is considered the summer capital of the world and is also the oldest city in the entire country of the Netherlands. Recently celebrating 2000 years of existence, there are always events, museums, and historic sites to see.
Located on the Waal River, Nijmegen is home to over 750,000 permanent residents. The first mention of the town was in the 1st Century (BC), when it was used as a military camp for Roman soldiers. It was chosen to be granted ‘rights of a city’, which meant a local government could be established, because of the strategic advantage of the lands surrounding the city in 98 AD.
Roman rule in the area waned in the 4th Century, and the city switched ruling bodies from the Frankish Kingdom, to other surrounding warring governments, to the Republic of United Provinces during the Dutch Revolt around 1584. The city stood against many sieges from armies vying for power in the region because of the location of Nijmegen and how it flourished with trade and commerce.
The city has certainly endured many centuries of horrible violence, but as recently as 1940, German armies laid siege to the city, and it was the first to fall to the Germans in WWII. As the allied forces advanced in the region, the city was a main battle ground, and even suffered unfortunate events like Americans accidentally bombing it, killing over 750 civilians, because it was mistaken for a German city.
It has remained an important city for the country through modern times by its lessons learned and stories told throughout its very long history. The incredible resilience of its people and the events taken place throughout the centuries have gave rise to many museums, artifacts, landmarks, educational organizations, shopping and commerce, and lovely countryside that is unrivaled in the region.
The city of Nijmegen is well known for its tourism and offers a variety of different tourist attractions meant to both entertain and help educate guests about the city’s history.
The Netherlands and the surrounding countries in Europe are also known for their superior higher education and were some of the first people to organize universities and higher learning. One of these places is located in Nijmegen, The Radboud University of Nijmegen, built in 1923, which was the very first Christian Catholic Schools built in The Netherlands. Apart from this university, Nijmegen offers public intermediate, vocational, and secondary schools for higher learning. The Radboud University remains a bastion for shaping young minds, and is distinct from the rest, ever since the Nobel Prize was given to Konstantin Novoselov and Andre Geim for excellence and innovation in physics while the two were studying at Radboud University.
One of those attractions is Museumpark Orientalis, a museum focusing on both European and world religions. The museum is home to artifacts and exhibits related to the three major world religions - Islam, Christianity, and Judaism. The building is divided into three different complexes, each focusing on the one of the religions. All exhibitions are located indoors.
Another interesting museum located in Nijmegen is the House of History, which is home to a variety of exhibitions that focus specifically on the history of the city. Many of the exhibits located in the House of History are interactive, allowing guests to the museum to interact directly with history. The museum itself is housed in a historic building, the de Marienburgkapel (a medieval chapel).
One of the more unique museums in the city is the MuZIEum (translates to the Mu-SEE-um in English), which has been honored as the top attraction in Nijmegen. This fascinating museum was designed so that guests can better understand what it is like to be visually impaired by leading them through in the dark. See how other senses make up for a lack of vision - namely smell, taste, and touch - and experience how blind people live on a regular basis.
For an outdoor experience when visiting Nijmegen, check out the Kronenburgerpark (which is rated third in the list of top rated attractions in the city). Kronenburgerpark is located in the heart of the city, close to the station and the oldest shopping street, the Lange Hezelstraat. There is a pond in the middle of the park, as well as a small playground. The park also is home to a small zoo/animal park, which offers guests the chance to see fallow deer, chickens, donkeys, peacocks, and a herd of Ouessens (a type of sheep). The park is considered a Dutch national monument.
Another stunning architectural wonder of Nijmegen is Stevenskerk. Consecrated in 1273, the Roman Gothic church features a huge clock tower and was renovated after a portion of it was destroyed. There is also beautiful stained glass located in the church, and it is currently both the oldest as well as the biggest church in the city.
Every July, the city hosts the International 4 Day March, which consists of a series of marches/walks through Nijmegen. Each walk will vary between 30 and 50 kilometers (with each guest carrying a 10-kilo backpack) and the event attractions more than 40,000 visitors annually. Medals are awarded at the end, although the goal is simply to encourage healthy behavior via exercise and sportsmanship. In addition, for guests who do not want to participate in the march portion, the 4 Day March also functions as a food festival. There will be live music as well, truly offering something for everyone. The festival even has its own piece of composed music, via H.A. van Mechelen, aptly named the “Four Days March.” It was composed in 1932.
Nijmegen is also very proud of its sports teams, which play at the Stadion de Goffert. The over 12,000 seat stadium is home to its football team, NEC Nijmegen. There are also frequent bandy, cricket, and ice hockey games, as well as the annual 15-kilometer Bronze label race, the Zevenheuvenlenloop.
Dining and Shopping
Nijmegen consists of a wide range of different dining experiences. For a unique cafe experience, guests should check out the Et Cafe De Plak. Guests looking for a more formal, sit down dining experience, there is the Van Buren (of the Molenstraat) which serves fancy, french cuisine at an equally fancy price point. For shopping, visit the Lange Hezelstraat which is the oldest shopping street in Nijmegen.