We went to Hulst, the Netherlands, hundreds of times already, it being only a few minutes away from our place in the forest.
We love it there. Hulst has special memories for us.
Apart from those memories, Hulst is very interesting to visit. It has a rich history, being one of the old strongholds and fortified defence-cities of the Netherlands.
What do we like the best about Hulst? This is our TOP 5 of things to see and visit there:
1. CITY WALLS
Unique about Hulst is that they still have their natural stronghold walls. Most of the old strongholds don’t have those anymore, but Hulst still uses them as a part of their city. They removed the stone city walls on top of them, but the natural walls are still there.
They go around the entire city, giving room to walkers to explore the old border of Hulst. Next to the walking path, there are playgardens, an old mill, benches to sit and rest and an amazing scenery of both the inner city and the expanded city around.
It’s a nice stroll that shows you most of Hulst and lets you see the old building in the inner city from a distance.
You can get on the walls in different places and follow the walking path from anywhere.
2. BASILICA OF ST. WILLIBRORD
The main landmark of Hulst. We can’t ignore this one in our list!
From far away, it dominates the Hulst skyline. When you visit Hulst, you MUST visit this basilica.
The church is located right in the heart of the historical city and is hard to miss.
We had the honor to go inside the church when one of the guides was around. He told us a lot about the history of Hulst and the basilica. Ok, his “facts” were not completely correct (being a Michelangelo expert, I can tell you with 100% certainty that the pietà hanging in the basilica is NOT a work of Michelangelo, even though the guide likes to tell everyone it is… I pointed out at least 10 things proving it was not one of his pietàs, but the guide stubbornly refused to give in, getting mad at me for trying to “take away” their Michelangelo), but he obviously was very passionate about his church and eager to share his knowledge with others.
It is a beautiful basilica indeed, showing off Hulst’s rich history in both religious and environmental area.
3. THE BOLLEWERCKPOORT AND THE OLD HARBOUR
There’s a reason why Hulst could afford their beautiful basilica. They once (in the Middle Ages) had an harbour. A very succesful harbour, as they were one of the biggest trade cities when it came to the salt trade in the lower lands.
But, like always and everywhere, the water was an easy way to get into the city. And Hulst had a lot of enemies. Like the people of Ghent, who liked to invade the city multiple times during its history. The Bollewerckpoort (or Keldermanspoort) was build to hopefully keep the Ghents away and protect Hulst against them and other enemies. Unfortunately, in the 17th century, the rivers got silted and Hulst was no longer a harbour.
Luckily for us, in 2011, the city of Hulst started to recreate the old harbour and bring back some history to the people. Both the newly created inner city and the remains of the Bollewerckpoort are an amazing memento of the important historical meaning of Hulst.
And when you visit the Bollewerckpoort, don’t forget to take a look behind it. They created a small, but interesting little area where children (and adults) can learn something about the invasion of the Spanish people.
4. MUSEUM “DE VIER AMBACHTEN”
Just like almost every city, Hulst has its very own museum. Filled with interesting folklore information, it is one of our favorite places in Hulst. It’s not a secret that Desmitskes are museum-people. We just LOVE seeing old artifacts in real life, rather than in pictures. From prehistoric firestones to structures found in a nearby monastry, this museum has everything that makes a visit worty your while. They focus on old clothing styles and crafts typical for this area. And of course Reynaert De Vos has his own part of the museum as well.
The stairs towards the tower are a little bit creaking, but once on top you have the most amazing view over the city of Hulst.
5. TOWN MILL
Last but not least… our favorite place of Hulst.
I admit, we’ve never been inside the mill so far. Just never were able to meet the miller. But next to the mill is the grassfield with the playgarden and the canon where we shoot the yearly pictures of our children. We LOVE it there, it holds so many beautiful memories for us.
We are eager to visit the mill itself too. But the scenery there is amazing.
If you go and visit the mill after reading this blogpost, take a picture on the old canon and tag us on social media! We’d love to see our favorite place in your pictures while we are far away traveling the world. 😉 @desmitskesunplugged
BONUS: REYNAERT DE VOS
When you walk around Hulst, try to find the different monuments dedicated to Reynaert De Vos.
Van Den Vos Reynaerde is a famous Middle Dutch poem written in the 13th century. It got its inspiration in other poems (who in their turn got their inspirition in Aesops poems), but still became one of the most important written works in our Dutch history.
Reynaert is a red fox who bullies and cons everyone around him to get what he wants out of life. A typical fable, but still fun to read. When you live in Belgium or the Netherlands, chances are big that you studied up on this poem somewhere in your school carreer.
Everywhere around Hulst there are monuments of Reynaert to be found, because Hulst plays an important part in the story. The city of Hulst is obviously proud of this fact, because they treat you with some amazing sceneries.
EXTRA TIP: PARKING PLACES
To end this blogpost with, we’ll give you the scoop on free parking spots in Hulst.
The entire inner city of Hulst is payed parking. A few years ago there were a few free parking spots in the inner city, but they are replaced and have to be payed for as well now.
But… a little distance outside the heart of the city, there is a shopping square full of every supermarket you can think of. All the supermarkets are located around a huge parking and that parking is free to park on. It’s only a 2 minute walk to the city walls and a 5 minute walk to the basilica, so it’s worth it to park outside the inner city.
Address: Stationsplein, Hulst.
Let us know if you visited Hulst and what you thought of it! Did you love it as much as we did?
Enjoy your trip!
Pictures: both own work as Wikipedia