Delft

Delft is not only a small city with a quiet and hospitable historic centre, but is also home to one of the world's most prestigious research institutes.
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Delft is a town in South Holland famous for being an important art city and the birthplace of painter Johannes Vermeer and other great artists of the Dutch Golden Age. Delft’s most illustrious citizen, however, is undoubtedly William of Orange, the Dutch prince who liberated the country in the 16th century by defeating the Spanish and who is now buried in the splendid New Church.

The first records of the town date back to around the 11th century when Goffredo il Gobbo built an initial estate here and obtained market rights over the area. Later, in the 12th century, work began on digging the first canal, the Delf, and it is from this that the name of the city seems to derive, as ‘delf’ in the Dutch language means ‘to dig’.

In the middle of the 13th century, Count William II of the Netherlands granted Delft civic rights and from that moment on, the city’s economy grew more and more thanks mainly to the emergence of textile and brewing industries. To this must be added that in the 14th century, another canal was dug in the city to connect Delft to the Meuse River, which flows into the North Sea. Thanks to this work and the foundation of the port of Delfshaven (in the territory of Rotterdam), the commercial development of Delft grew more and more, bringing wealth and prosperity.

Between the 17th and 18th century, the city became internationally famous for its faience, called Delfts Blauw (Delft blue) in Dutch, as it was made in the colours blue and white. Majolica and ceramics were long produced by several factories in the city, but now many of these are closed and only the De Porceleyne Fles factory remains active.

Today, Delft is a town with a quiet and hospitable atmosphere and is characterised by numerous canals, small bridges and cobbled streets that are surrounded by historic buildings. It is now also home to the Technical University of Delft (TU Delft), which is the largest and oldest technical university in the Netherlands and one of the most prestigious research institutes in the world.

Things to do in Delft

Like many towns of medieval origin, Delft has a Main Square (also known as the Markt or Market Square) on which important buildings such as the Town Hall and the New Church, as well as several bars and restaurants, are located. The best way to fully experience the city’s atmosphere, however, is to stroll along its canals and narrow streets and stop for a break in one of its many cafés.

Old Church

1HH Geestkerkhof 25, 2611 HP Delft, Paesi Bassi

Along the banks of the old Oude Delft canal stands the Oude Kerk (or Old Church), which is considered the oldest church in the city, as reports of a religious building here date back to around the year 1000. This small church, however, has been enlarged and renovated several times over the years to accommodate an increasing number of worshippers. Around the middle of the 13th century, when William II of the Netherlands granted Delft the title of city, this church was further enlarged and was named first after St Bartholomew and then after St Hippolytus.

Considered the most important religious building in Delft for centuries, the Old Church was so called in the 14th century after the construction of the New Church (Nieuwe Kerk). Its bell tower is very special. It boasts a height of 75 metres and was built on the model of Flemish bell towers, but due to its fragile foundations it is not perfectly straight. Inside the Oude Kerk is a crypt in which many prominent Dutch figures are buried, including the painter Johannes Vermeer and the scientist Antoni van Leeuwenhoek.

Buy the ticket from 8,50 €

Nieuwe Kerk

2Markt 80, 2611 GW Delft, Paesi Bassi

The Nieuwe Kerk (or New Church) is the city’s most important religious building and was built in Gothic style between the 14th and 16th centuries. Located in the central Market Square (Markt), the religious complex has been remodelled and refurbished several times over the years but is now most famous for housing the royal crypt where the tombs of many members of the Dutch Royal Household are located. Among the most famous ones buried here is William of Orange (known as William the Taciturn) who is considered the ‘Father of the Fatherland’ and his mausoleum is considered a true artistic masterpiece by Hendrick de Keyser the Elder.

On the outside, the black bell tower stands out. It was built at the end of the 14th century but was destroyed several times due to bad weather and then rebuilt. During the last reconstruction in the 19th century, the tower was built using Bentheim sandstone, a type of stone that reacts with acid rain to become darker in colour. The 108-metre high tower is the tallest tower in the Netherlands after Utrecht Cathedral and it is possible to climb up to its terrace for a breathtaking view of the entire city and its surroundings.

Buy the ticket from 8,50 €

Stadhuis, Delft's city hall

3Markt 87, 2611 GS Delft, Paesi Bassi

When Count Wilhelm II of the Netherlands granted Delft the title of ‘city’, the first city hall (Stadhuis in Dutch) was built at the Market Square, but over the years it was demolished and rebuilt several times. The most important transformation took place in 1620 when Hendrick de Keyser the Elder was commissioned to renovate the building. He designed a two-storey building in the Dutch Renaissance style, incorporating the tower of the old town hall.

Over time, the façade has managed to retain the Renaissance style, while the structure has undergone several changes. Inside there are now numerous valuable works such as the portraits of the Counts of Orange and Nassau, many of which were executed by Michiel van Mierevelt (1567-1641) and a large painting of the Judgement of Solomon by Pieter van Bronckhorst (pupil of Rubens) in the Court Room.

Oostpoort

4Oostpoort 1, 2611 RZ Delft, Paesi Bassi

The Oostpoort is the only entrance to the city that was part of the old city wall to have survived. At one time, Delft was surrounded by high walls built to defend the territory from enemy attacks and the gates had two entrances: one by land and one by water. Built around 1400, this is one of eight entrances at the time and is less than a 10-minute walk from the central Market Square. Now its interior has been converted into exhibition spaces housing an art gallery and temporary exhibitions.

Museum Prinsenhof

5Sint Agathaplein 1, 2611 HR Delft, Paesi Bassi

The Prinsenhof is one of Delft’s most famous buildings because it was here that William I of Orange, known as the Taciturn (1533 -1584), considered one of the main protagonists of the Dutch Revolt against Spain, was assassinated. In the beginning this was a monastery, but in 1572 it was converted into a court to house Count William, who was shot dead here on 10 July 1584 by Balthasar Gerards, a Spanish sympathiser. The bullet holes from that day are still present in the wall of the building.

Now the building has been converted into a museum where you can discover the history of the Netherlands with insights into the Dutch royal house and the history of the city of Delft. An entire section is also reserved for the city’s historical and artistic heritage and its most illustrious residents such as Johannes Vermeer, Michiel van Mierevelt, Antoni van Leeuwenhoek and Hugo de Groot.

Buy the ticket from 14,00 €

Vermeer Centrum

6Voldersgracht 21, 2611 EV Delft, Paesi Bassi

Art enthusiasts, and not only, will find it of great interest to visit the Veermer Centrum, a site that chronicles the life and works of Dutch artist Johannes Vermeer (1632 – 1675), an important exponent of the Golden Age. Vermeer lived his entire life in Delft and although ‘The Girl with the Pearl Earring’, considered to be his most famous work, is kept in The Hague, the Vermeer Centrum is still an important site for learning about this artist.

The museum, in fact, allows visitors to take a real journey through the creations of the Dutch master, who conquered many especially for his studies on light. The tour runs over two floors: on the ground floor there are reproductions of many of his works, while on the second floor you can learn about the artist’s life in Delft and the interesting darkroom techniques he studied.

Buy the ticket from 12,00 €

Royal Delft

7Rotterdamseweg 196, 2628 AR Delft, Paesi Bassi

The Royal Delft is a museum dedicated to the history and production of Delft Blue ceramics, a type of pottery characterised by blue decorations on a white background. Housed in an old factory building from the 17th century, it offers visitors the opportunity to discover the history of ceramics in the city, from its origin in the 17th century to the present day, through an extensive collection of ceramic objects.

In addition, the museum also has a section dedicated to the production of ceramics, where visitors can watch the craftsmen work the pottery and see how the blue decorations are created.

Buy the ticket from 15,00 €

Molen de Roos

8Phoenixstraat 111, 112, 2611 AK Delft, Paesi Bassi

The Molen de Roos is a must-see during a visit to the city as it is the only remaining windmill out of a total of 18 that operated in Delft until the last century. The mill is still in operation and uses wind power to grind wheat that is organically grown in the area surrounding the city. You can visit the building to admire the ancient milling mechanism and enjoy a beautiful view of Delft.

Map

In the following map you can see the location of the main places of interest mentioned in this article

Cruise the canals of Delft

If you are planning to visit Delft, you should consider taking a cruise on its canals. This experience will allow you to discover the beauty of the city from a different perspective and enjoy a relaxing moment on the calm waters of the canals.

The 17th-century merchants’ houses and old warehouses that line the canals are among the city’s most beautiful architectural treasures and can be appreciated better from the canal than from land.

Where to stay in Delft

Delft is a city that boasts an orderly and human-friendly historic centre that can be comfortably explored on foot or by bicycle. For this reason, the best place to sleep in the city is in the centre, around the Markt square, where you will find several hotels, as well as restaurants, clubs and shops.

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How to get to Delft

Delft can be easily reached both by car and by public transport. In particular, those who want to reach the city by train should know that Delft has two railway stations: Delft Zuid and Delft Centrum. From the Delft Centrum station, you can walk to the city centre in just a few minutes. Numerous daily train connections make it possible to reach Delft from both The Hague and Rotterdam in just over 10 minutes, while Amsterdam is approximately 45 minutes away by train.

The bus companies RET and EBS provide bus connections to the major cities in the Netherlands. If you want to travel by car, however, you can get to Delft from Amsterdam by first taking the A4 (in the direction of The Hague) and then the A13 to exit 9.

Day trips from Amsterdam

You can also reach Delft on a guided tour from Amsterdam: it is very likely that the capital will be the basis of your trip, in which case consider a day trip, perhaps combining it with a visit to other locations in the Netherlands

Delft Weather

What's the weather at Delft? Below are the temperatures and the weather forecast at Delft for the next few days.

Thursday 23
12°
17°
Friday 24
12°
18°
Saturday 25
13°
15°
Sunday 26
12°
19°
Monday 27
13°
18°
Tuesday 28
12°
20°

Where is located Delft

Delft is a town in South Holland located between Rotterdam, to the south-east, and The Hague, to the north-west, and together they form the metropolitan area of Rotterdam-The Hague. The city is 12 km from The Hague, 16 km from Rotterdam and 63 km from Amsterdam.

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