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Discovering Groningen

Alison Laycock

The only thing I knew about Groningen ahead of arriving was that it was a university city. After 5 nights in Amsterdam, my first impression of Groningen was that it was much quieter and the streets were easily walkable. Maybe because I arrived on a Sunday, I don’t know.

As I was too early to book into the hotel, I was happy to leave my luggage and go discover. Although I was hungry, my first stop was the tourist office so I could see what there was to do during my stay of 3 nights. In my post A day out to Schiermonnikoog, I have already talked about how wonderful the help from the tourist office staff was so I won’t do it here. The most important advice was that on Monday most of Groningen would be closed so if I wanted to see the museum it was best to go on Sunday. So off I went for a quick lunch from the supermarket on the way to the museum.

Another gem was found on the museum route as I happened upon the Synagogue. I’ve never been to a Synagogue before, however I am respectful towards other religions and values the similarities and differences amongst them all. I arrived in between 2 tour times as they start on the hour. 5€ for entry with a guided tour and €3 without the tour but it was definitely worth it for me to have the guided tour as I learnt so much about that particular synagogue and it’s particularly poignant history and also about Judaism in general.

As the majority of the Jewish population was executed in the 2nd world war, the synagogue has lost a lot of it’s history and the stories which have died with those who are killed. The panel in the photo above was returned to the synagogue by a man saying it had been his fence panel for years but it should be returned to it’s rightful place. The building remained in tact mostly although certain things are still being replaced as the building was taken over by a washing company after the war. The Hebrew welcome outside the door and the window with the star of David remained in tact. There are exhibitions on the 1st floor in the area which would have been where the women sat for the service. You can also see a table setting, a Rabbi’s life and a wedding on the same floor. It was a very informative visit and it has encouraged me to learn more about Judaism.

So on to the museum, €7.50 entry although in the guidebook it advertised €13. As in other museums, you leave your bags in a free cloakroom so I left my jacket and the Groningen magazine the tourist office had given me. You’ll see from the photos that it was much easier to navigate than the other museums I went to in Amsterdam. There are various exhibitions to enjoy and I really liked the way the rooms were painted different colours to highlight the paintings more. I met Muriël, a lady who works every Sunday at the museum and offers people the chance to discuss a painting with them. Here is the interview I did with her for the blog which gives more details Meeting Muriël in Groningen museum

The museum is worth a visit to see a variety of painters exhibited as well as the museum’s own collection and other interesting pieces.

Martini tower is certainly worth the climb up as 250 steps later you get a beautiful panoramic view over Groningen. €3 paid to the tourist office gets you a coin to enter the tower and you climb up with areas to step off the spiral steps to take a breather. One part gives you the opportunity to check out the bells before you continue on the rest of the climb.

Today, I finished off my sightseeing with a city walk which I adapted from the map and booklet available from the tourist office.

It was also Market day which I always enjoy seeing and it offers the perfect opportunity to sit with a hot drink and people watch.

There is such a good feeling to this city that I am sure I will return to in the future. The airport here offers a chance to return for a weekend.

#Groningen #Martinitower #museum #synagogue

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