Now the older the item, the more valuable it is. Old things not only carry a value of time, history, culture but also have spiritual value. So here is a list of the 10 oldest Dutch things you might not know.
The oldest Dutch town
The oldest town in the Netherlands in terms of official town rights is Stavoren (1058) in Friesland, while Nijmegen is likely the oldest town of any significance today. A Roman triumph column from 17 AD was discovered in 1980, commemorating Emperor Tiberius’ successful wars in the Lower Rhine. In Roman times, Nijmegen was known as Ulpia Noviomagus Batavorum.
Oldest Dutch university
Leiden University is the Netherlands’ oldest university. It was established on February 7, 1575. William of Orange offered the city an option between a ten-year tax exemption and a university. It would have been interesting to find out how close the vote was. Aside from 19th-century Dutch luminaries like statesman Johan Thorbecke, the author of the Dutch constitution, the university employed an amazing 13 Nobel laureates. Visitors included Albert Einstein, Marie Curie, and Niels Bohr.
Life’s oldest signs
The earliest indications of human life in the swampy lowlands were left by Homo heidelbergensis, a humanoid that decided the perfect location to roam was what is now the heart of the Netherlands. They left flints and implements that could be 300,000 years old, but could also be double that age. Sharpened stones were most likely used to scrape hides.
The oldest church
The oldest church in the Netherlands still in use is the pre-Romanesque Oude Kerk in Oosterbeek (Gelderland), which dates from the 10th century. During Operation Market Garden in 1944, the chapel served as a backdrop to an intense battle between the Germans and the Allies. It is still a pilgrimage site for many veterans today.
The oldest burial site discovered so far is near Hardinxveld-Giessendam, where a woman’s full skeleton was uncovered. Trijntje, so named because she was found during construction on the Betuwe train (trein) line, is estimated to be between 7,000 and 7,500 years old. She was 158 cm tall and between the ages of 40 and 60 when she died. It was impossible to determine how she died.
The oldest Dutch road
The oldest roads that can be found were part of the Roman Limes, which were border defenses that delineated the limits of the Roman empire and ran roughly from Katwijk to the Rhine. The roadways were assumed to be packed with gravel and clay rather than paved.
The oldest house
Deventer has the oldest Dutch house still standing. It has a section of wall from the year 900. The house, including the city gate, was completed in 1130. (which is the oldest city gate in the Netherlands.)
The oldest Dutch
What unbidan nu hebban olla vogala nestas hagunnan hinase hic anda thu? It means, or was assumed to imply, ‘All the birds are creating their nest except you and me, What are we waiting for?’ and has long been regarded as the oldest example of Dutch. The inscription was discovered on a manuscript copied in Winchester Abbey and is assumed to be doodling by a monk in his native West Flemish to test out a new pen.
Belgian scholar Luc de Grauwe made a compelling case for the passage to be in Old English in 2012. ‘All the birds have now constructed their nests except you and me, now what do you expect?’ says the professor. The official earliest Dutch term is Maltho thi afrio lito, which comes from 510 and was the usual word to free a serf.
Oldest reclaimed land
Reclaiming land has been a Dutch pursuit since the 14th century, but the Beemster (1607-1612) is the first polder of any significance. It was even added to the list of World Heritage Sites. Jan Adriaanszoon Leeghwater (meaning “empty (of) water”), a brilliant engineer, utilized 47 windmills for draining an area of over 73 m2 km. The Beemster was converted into highly fertile agricultural land, generating enormous wealth for the foresightful investors of the time.
The oldest Dutch company
Hotel De Draak in Bergen op Zoom is the oldest Dutch firm still in operation. It was listed as an inn as early as 1406 and is still in use as a hotel today. It has had its fair share of accidents, the most recent of which being a terrible fire in 2013, although it has since reopened. The Spanish Duke of Alba, who stayed the night in 1567, a year before the start of the 80 Years War, or the Dutch revolt against Spain, must be one of the most remarkable people to (dis)grace the guest list.