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Explosion Spanish ship at the battle of Gibraltar Whether it concerns a guided tour in the Rijksmuseum or in the Mauritshuis or a city tour in Delft, Utrecht, Amsterdam, Gouda – the Eighty Years' War is most likely to be mentioned during all of them. Not only because this Dutch struggle for freedom took so long, but also because of its fundamental importance for the national identity of the country - then and now. The so called Wilhelmus still is the national anthem of the Netherlands, praising the important leader of the Eighty Years' War: William Price of Orange, called William the Silent. Under this William of Orange, the northern provinces of the Netherlands fought themselves free of catholic Spanish rule to become a protestant republic. He is still adores as "Father of the Fatherland". 

From October 12, 2018 to January 20, 2019, the Rijksmuseum in Amsterdam devotes a comprehensive special exhibition to this so important period of Dutch history. The occasion? This Dutch Revolt started 450 years ago, in 1568. The Eighty Years' War was a conflict that spanned several generations and only ended in 1648, when with the Peace Treaty of Münster, the Dutch Republic was officially recognized as a sovereign state. 

The Dutch Revolt - an exhibition in the Rijksmuseum in Amsterdam

Much happened during these 80 years. The conflict was about religion, but also about privileges of the nobility. The fight took place on land and sea, after all, Spain as well as the Netherlands were trying to gain supremacy over the oceans of the world. Many people lost their lives during this war, or at least their homes. Countless people fled their homes. The thousands upon thousands of refugees who left the Spanish and catholic southern provinces and came to Holland have made very significant contributions to the economic boom that developed in the Dutch Republic, bringing wealth and prosperity to many. 

Vermeer Centrum DelftDelft is the city of Johannes Vermeer, where – according to all we know – he spent his whole life. But alas, Delft cannot praise itself on owning even a single painting by the master. Luckily the Vermeer Center in Delft has been established in 2007. Situated at the canal Voldersgracht near the market square, it presents us an overview of Vermeer's career, his development as a painter, the environment that shaped him and the works of art he created. For this the Vermeer Centrum provides us with 37 high quality photographic reproductions of his paintings in original size.

We get valuable impressions of the work of Johannes Vermeer and of life in Delft in his time, with the aid of photographs of his paintings, an interactive map full of interesting insights and a camera obscura that brings the outside activity on the street literally into the building. Vermeer is suspected to have used this device as well, to prepare the composition of his paintings. The restoration of Vermeer's "Reading woman in blue" of the Rijksmuseum in Amsterdam, that was performed some years ago, is being explained in elucidating detail and deepens our knowledge of his work. As does a presentation on his use of symbolic elements. A gallery that is dedicated to Vermeers' artistic practice constitutes a special highlight of the Vermeer Centrum. Here we can gather valuable information on the painting materials and pigments he (and his contemporary painters) used.

You can get the best panoramic view of Utrecht from one of the least beautiful building complexes. Many think the cathedral tower to be the ideal place for the best view on the city. However, from here you have the disadvantage that you can't see Utrecht's most prominent sight itself when you are standing right on top of it.

Utrecht panoramic view

For the most beautiful panorama of the city, go to the East side of the shopping mall Hoog Catharijne, located between the main train station (Utrecht Centraal Station) and the historic centre of Utrecht. Before these structures were built here, this was the area of the Western city limits with the city gate Catharijnepoort and the detested Vredenburg castle from where the former Spanish rulers tried to control the city and its surroundings. From 1963 onwards, a huge shopping centre was erected here. For its construction, several houses dating back to the Middle Ages had to bite the dust and were demolished, among them  also the well-known Art Nouveau building of the insurance company De Utrecht. Currently (2013) the whole area around Hoog Catharijne is under (re)construction. 

Siegen, Oberes Schloss (Upper Castle)Visitors of Siegen in Westphalia- or the neighbouring Sauerland - may not miss a visit to the Siegerlandmuseum. The museum is located in the old castle on top of the hill called Siegberg, the Oberes Schloss or Upper castle. For centuries, this was the home of the counts of Nassau and Nassau-Siegen, in later periods only of the catholic branch of the family. In 1888, the building was acquired by the city council . They turned it into a regional museum that opened its doors in 1905. The Siegerlandmuseum regularly shows temporary exhibitions, most recently in summer 2012 an exhibition titled "Gestochen scharf" of masterpieces in print from the late middle ages and early renaissance up to the 20st century.

Siegerlandmuseum, room of Johann Moritz (John Maurice) of Nassau-Siegen.Also its permanent exhibition is very much worth while. The Siegerlandmuseum's presentation among others focusses on the region's relation with the dynasties of the houses of Nassau-Oranje and Nassau-Siegen and related families. You can find portraits of the offspring of William of Orange, called The Silent, like the children's portraits of his daughters, and a series of portraits of the daughters of Frederik Hendrik of Orange. And not to forget Johann Moritz (John Maurice) of Nassau-Siegen, famous as governour of the Dutch colony in Brazil and still quite honoured in Siegen and surroundings. The museum dedicates a while room to him.

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