Noordwijk has a wealth of history within its walls. More than 100 national monuments reveal eight centuries of the town’s history, encompassing an enormous variety from the sturdy church towers of the thirteenth century to the bulb sheds of the start of the twentieth century.
Experience the Middle Ages
The history begins with the landing of Jeroen in the ninth century. He tried to convert the population, but the Vikings demanded that he renounce his faith. He refused and was beheaded. In 1429 Noordwijk was elevated to a place of pilgrimage by the Bishop of Utrecht. This meant a period of enormous flourishing for Noordwijk. The imposing Oude Jeroenskerk (Old Church of St Jeroen) and R.K. Sint Jeroenskerk (St Jeroen’s Catholic Church) bear witness to this. Noordwijk has the oldest schutterij (town watch) in the Netherlands, which is still fully functioning. For many centuries the brothers of the guild have been shooting their bows and arrows every Friday evening at the archery range. The target is the jay with the eggs on the 26 metre high pole.
Watch out for the arrows!
Every Friday evening in summer there is shooting with real arrows on Offemweg! You’re still welcome to come along. You can watch the gentlemen at work from a safe position behind the posts. During the Zilverschieten (‘silver shooting’) on the Saturday nearest the longest day everything and everyone is decorated and dressed up to the nines.
The Golden Age is visible in many places in Noordwijk. In the seventeenth century rope was made in many parts of the village for the fleet of the Dutch east India Company and local fishing boats. The last rope maker disappeared from Douzastraat in the twentieth century. The entrance gate to the business is still a reminder of its existence.
The Golden Age left more traces behind in the church. In the tower there hangs a church bell dating back to 1672 made by the Hemony Brothers of Amsterdam. At the time they cast the best and most expensive bells in the world. Their bells hang in many famous churches, including the Westerkerk in Amsterdam.
The famous Hemony bell almost disappeared into the furnaces of the occupying forces to be melted down and used for weapons. Curious about the strange story of how this bell survived the Second World War? Climb the tower on Saturday afternoon (April to October) with one of the guides. They will tell you this and lots more worth knowing during the exciting trip, which offers views as far as Amsterdam and Rotterdam.
The "Oude Dorpskern" – old inner town centre – is always a great place to be, no matter what the season. Seek out the cool shade cast by the hundreds of lofty linden trees on a hot summer's day. Shelter from the autumn gales in one of the many monumental buildings. See the winter snow turn the Voorstraat and Lindenplein into a scene from an Anton Pieck picture.
Discover the medieval Gothic stone house, a rarity that people will look for in vain in Amsterdam or in Leiden. However, the step gables dating back to the Dutch Golden Age, and the 18th century patrician residences in lavish Louisian style have an urban hint in them. Not to mention the town pumps, hearkening back to a time when there was no such thing as water mains. All three of Noordwijk's pumps survived centuries of innovation.
All of these historic buildings will undoubtedly pique your curiosity and make you want to peek inside. There are lots of events that allow you to do exactly that include Markt onder de Linden, Muziek in Jeroen, Verborgen Klanken, Schrijvers Binnen, etc