What can I see around Groningen?
Visit Fortress Bourtange!
Do you want to see a real, badass, bastioned pentagon designed, surrounded by water, Dutch fortress from the Medieval times?
Fort Bourtange was initially built during the Eighty Years' War (circa 1568–1648) when William I of Orange wanted to control the only road between Germany and the city of Groningen which was controlled by the Spanish. Back then, the road was full of swamps and the fortress was called the Wet Horizon. However, in 1681 the marsh around the entrenchment Bourtange appeared completely dry, because the farmers had punctured holes in the dikes, dug ditches and turned the marsh into meadows and gardens. Now, inside the fortress are preserved a windmill, church, barracks, medieval toilets, cafes and museums. A few times a year an event with restoration battles are held where you can witness how did they defend the fortress.
How do I reach the fortress?
Bourtange is in the north of the municipality of Vlagtwedde and in the east of the province of Groningen near the German border. To reach the fortress without having a car or an organized group can be a challenge because you will have to change 1 train and 2 buses one way. The total 1 hour and half and it costs 11-euro one way with ov-chipcard. The 2nd bus on the way to the fortress is a special bus (on demand) that you will have to order 1 hour in advance because not so many people use it. Otherwise, the bus will never come, and you will be stuck in a small village for a long time. In total, this trip will cost you 22 euro and 6 transportation vehicles, but you will see a fascinating Dutch fortress full of history and traditions.
The 2 things that impressed me the most in the fortress were the medieval toilet and a torture horse. The medieval toilet, which is still functioning, is practical and sustainably flushed straight to the canal. The water must have been so dirty that it was probably used as an extra defense to the whole fortress defense system. The other impressive thing was the torture horse. It was meant to put a person on the horse which has very sharp back and on the end of the legs were put weights.
In conclusion, the fortress is a unique place near Groningen that worth visiting! It will captivate you with the pentagon design fortresses and the surrounding canals. It is admiral the hard work of Dutch people has put to survive in such harsh conditions and defend their land with extensive canal systems and fortifications.
For more information: https://www.bourtange.nl/