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July 2020 – Zeist, Netherlands
Hidden gem coming next!
If you’re coming to the Netherlands, you will probably stop in Amsterdam. And for a good reason, but this shouldn’t be your final destination. For example, Utrecht is the Amsterdam alternative without the crowds.
Have you heard about Zeist? This is the posh village where rich people of Utrecht moved over the last century.
If we made you curious, here’s the brief history of royal Zeist, the hidden gem near Utrecht.
WHERE IS ZEIST
Zeist is a town in the center of the Netherlands, in the province of Utrecht. It is also a municipality and has a population of about 63000 people. It is 10 km away from the better known city of Utrecht.
In Zeist you will encounter beautiful estate houses and castles, each more striking than the other, with Zeist Castle as one of the high points.
HISTORY OF ZEIST
Zeist or “Seist” was first heard of in 836. But nothing more was recorded until the end of the 1100’s when a small church was built there near to a small river that, back then, merged with the Rhine.
Three large mansions were built nearby at around the same time. There was also an original castle (Kasteel Zeist) in the area, known to have been lived in by a Knight called Godefridus and his family.
In the 17th century Slot Zeist was constructed near the ruins of the original castle. It was built in the 1600’s by Willem Adriaan as a place to relax and entertain his guests. There are large English style gardens and beautiful green paths surrounding the castle. Walking around takes you back in time and gives you the feeling of being at the royal court! 😊
Later on, members of the Dutch Moravian’s (an evangelical movement) moved to Zeist and built several grand houses in the area. Their center is still in town today.
In the 1800’s, Zeist was popular with many well off people from Utrecht. This expansion brought a huge uprising of the town fortunes.
In the 20th century there was a Dutch Air Force base near to the town that was called Camp Zeist.
The Royal Dutch Football Association also has their base in Zeist.
There is an extensive forest land outside of Zeist, that can best be explored by bicycle or walking.
We spent half a day in the Utrechtse Heuvelrug National Park. Combining both Zeist with a trek in the woods is a perfect day trip!
HOW TO GET TO ZEIST
If you’re coming by plane, take the train from Amsterdam Schiphol Airport to Utrecht, and then change to bus 50 or 74.
The direct option is driving the car, of course. Otherwise, if you live around Utrecht, go by bike. The bike path (fietspad) is fantastic.
Traveling during worldwide crisis is a real challenge nowadays. It made us appreciate the surroundings, forced us to discover hidden gems nearby and, above all, look for sustainable life choices.
Zeist is just one of the hidden spots we discovered this summer while biking. Roads are endless, you just have to go off the beaten track.
Happy travels and stay safe!