When over 4,000 historic buildings, monuments, and cultural institutions open during a single weekend, thousands of people rush to explore their unique stories.

This was the case with the European Heritage Days celebrations in the Netherlands, which traditionally took place in September. Locally known as Open Monumentendag, the festival attracts over a million visitors each year and 2017 was no exception.

Honouring Dutch rural traditions and lifestyles, this year’s events focused on the architectural and natural heritage of the country’s numerous villages, farms, fields, towns, and trade routes. Through open visits to thousands of public buildings, private houses, mills, factories, churches, oude mannenhuis-es, and other historic or traditional edifices, Open Monumentendag 2017 unlocked a new perspective to traditional Dutch lifestyles and architectures.  

Among the buildings that opened for this occasion, Museum Het Sterkenhuis in the town Bergen presented its invaluable 17th century architecture and collections that witness the history of the region. Visitors could also learn more about the century-old history of a former elementary school in IJzerlo, which has been proclaimed a nationally protected monument in 2001.

These are just some of locations that offered free admissions during the European Heritage Days weekend and similar histories could be found all over the country. Vught, Hernen, Middelburg, and many other towns opened the doors to their heritage sites, offering a sneak peek into the less known local histories. For most visitors, this was an invaluable opportunity to uncover hidden histories of their local heritage and learn more about traditional lifestyles in their regions.

Given the incredibly rich event offering, 2017 was a big Open Monumentendag year with over a million unique experiences. Yet, there are so many stories left to be told and new heritage experiences to be created!

One of such experiences is the upcoming special event in Leeuwarden, which will take place on 11 November. Titled Nieuw gebruik - Oud gebouw (New use – old building), the event will present how old buildings can be transformed to fit the purposes of modern lifestyles.

The lecture will give examples of projects that were successfully restored to support new cultural developments, while preserving the history through architecture. It will bring about another interesting perspective on the Dutch heritage, following the remarkable success of European Heritage Days.

More information about the event can be found here.