The first thought everyone has when you say you visited The Netherlands is Amsterdam. It’s a gorgeous city filled with history and intrigue, a must-see place for any tourist in the area.
However, there is much more to the Netherlands than just Amsterdam, and I discovered it due to a friend’s love of a medieval artist.
The Jheronimus Bosch Art Center is located in the small town of Hertogenbosch, NL. It is the hometown of the medieval artist Bosch (who changed his name to reflect his hometown). Hertogenbosch is a quaint little town about an hour south of Amsterdam and 45 minutes from Germany’s western border. It has a main street filled with little shops and a few restaurants.
But First, We Eat!
We were starving after our drive! We strolled down the one main street in the small town on the hunt for a decent restaurant that we all could enjoy. Our first stop was a deli-type café, which, unfortunately, was very small with few menu options. It looked and smelled delicious, but one of my companions, Tina, is vegan, and there was nothing available for her to eat on the limited menu.
We continued down the street and ended up at the Swanjee restaurant, which was right across from St. Johns Cathedral, a gorgeous Gothic church. The weather was nice, so we elected to sit outside on the street to take in the views of the church and partake in people-watching. Jamie and I ordered brie and ham omelets, while Tina ordered a veggie sandwich. The omelets were rather good, though too salty for our tastes. Tina was thrilled with her sandwich, and it looked delicious as well. I wanted to be vegan for a day!
Related: Heading to the Netherlands? Don’t miss these Viator tours!*
Jheronumus Bosch Art Center
My favorite portion of the town of Hertogenbosch was the Jheronumus Bosch Art Center. Before planning this trip, I had never heard of the artist, but I am incredibly thankful that Jamie had. His work is amazing, and visiting his center was an extraordinary introduction to this influential artist.
The art center is in an old church that still holds community functions. A high school band concert was going on while we were visiting (which gave us discounted tickets to the center). The top floor has panoramic doors that offer visitors a wonderful view of all sides of the town. Due to a fly migration, the doors are sealed in September and October, but you can still easily see the town through the glass. It would be gorgeous in the spring and summer when you could step outside.
The Art Center had a wealth of information on the medieval artist and reprints of most of his famous paintings. The originals are spread out in museums across the world (each copy listed where museum the original piece is on display). It was great to see the body of work together in one place and understand the story behind the paintings and the artist. We opted for the audio tour, which was available in both English and German, among other languages, and was very educational.
The art center also had numerous sculptures representing creatures from Bosch’s work. Some were literally hanging from the ceiling! Others were displayed more traditionally on the ground. These surreal sculptures were both mesmerizing and terrifying, and the effort that modern artists put into creating them stands as a testament to how influential Bosch was. He was the first surrealist artist, practicing at a time when most were focused on Romanesque and Gothic styles. You can see his influence in the works of more modern greats such as Dali and Ernst. The Jheronumus Bosch Art Center is a must-see for lovers of art, history, and all things macabre.
Getting Off the Beaten Path Leads to Adventure
Sometimes when traveling, we forget about the amazing things outside of big cities. I would never have thought to visit Hertogenbosch in the Netherlands, but I’m so thankful I did. Not only did I learn about an influential artist, but I saw a smaller town in the Netherlands that most people don’t get the opportunity to see.
I’ll make more of a point to get outside the major cities and see what’s around in future travels. I’m sure that adventure awaits!
Melanie launched Partners in Fire in 2017 to document her quest for financial independence with a mix of finance, fun, and solving the world’s problems. She’s self educated in personal finance and passionate about fighting systematic problems that prevent others from achieving their own financial goals. She also loves travel, anthropology, gaming and her cats.