Are you a lover of art, renaissance or modern? Are you interested in science? Do you like to walk through picturesque cities or do you love the countryside? How about staying at the beach? The region where Wikimania may take place has all of this.
Although recorded history of the Netherlands only starts with the Romans, the country has been permanently inhabited since the last Ice Age. Notable remains of prehistoric settlement are the "hunebeds" (dolmens) in the province of Drenthe.
The Romans, making the river Rhine the border of their empire, left their mark on the southern part of the Netherlands, their forts and the communities around them later evolving into cities, most notably Nijmegen and Maastricht.
The early Middle Ages saw the first attempts of the Dutch to diminish the influence of the sea on their land, resulting in the first land reclamation attempts and dikes. In the 16th and 17th century windmills were used extensively to reclaim land and keep the water out. As time progressed these undertakings became ever more complex and larger, culminating in our time with the Afsluitdijk and the Delta Works.
Besides trying to keep the sea out, Dutch merchants also exploited its opportunities, with trade networks spanning from the Baltic to the Americas and the East Indies. The trade hugely contributed to the wealth of the cities, Amsterdam becoming the wealthiest and most important.
From old style buildings of the ages of Rembrandt or Van Gogh to the modern miracles: As you like it. The Netherlands are famous for urban planning.
The Netherlands, a country with a fragile coast line, has been in a constant fight with the sea for survival. The Delta Works are a series of constructions built between 1950 and 1997 in the southwest of the Netherlands to protect a large area of land around the Rhine-Meuse-Scheldt delta from the sea. The works consist of dams, sluices, locks, dikes, and storm surge barriers. By building this magnificent combination of coastal protection works, the coast line was drastically shortened and the character of the water totally changed.
The American Society of Civil Engineers has declared the works to be one of the Seven Wonders of the Modern World together with the Zuiderzee Works in the north of the country. For all with an interest in engineering the delta works are a must see while in The Netherlands.
Delta Works - a must for every fan of engineering
Considering that The Netherlands was home to some of the most famous painters in history, it is almost unsurprising that art takes a very prominent place in Dutch culture. Galleries and art festivals are plentiful in all major cities, and the country boasts a number of world class museums. Amsterdam's Rijksmuseum owns probably the largest collection of Golden Age paintings, among which Rembrandt's famous Night Watch. Right next door are the fine Van Gogh Museum (designed by Rietveld), with the greatest collection of the artist's work, as well as the Stedelijk Museum for contemporary art. The Kröller-Müller Museum (with the second largest Van Gogh collection, as well as works by Mondrian and Picasso) and Rotterdam's Museum Boijmans Van Beuningen are just examples of the ample options outside the capital.
The small size of the Netherlands and its high density of population makes areas of natural beauty a highly valued good. The country has no less than 20 national parks and some 345 other nature reserves, varying from heathlands, to dunes, woods, wetlands and lakes. Some of the main national parks, like De Biesbosch, the Hoge Veluwe and Zuid-Kennemerland are located at just an hour's travel from Amsterdam. Most of the country is famously flat, making bicycle tours an ideal way to explore the Dutch countryside and the small villages spread around in it.
Landscape on Texel
The Netherlands is a country of many cultures. This results in many different restaurants being available. All over the country you will find Chinese, Thai, Indonesian, French and Italian restaurants. In the larger cities, you will also find Mexican, Spanish, Turkish, Greek, Indian, Moroccan and many other types of restaurants. Of course there are also restaurants by genre: vegetarian, organic, or really Dutch: pancakes!