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The case of Den Bosch’s shows why visitors easily miss local pearls

An in-depth look at its bowels and more

Tags: Excerpts from the Windmill

How exciting is the visit to a country as flat as a pancake? If views above ground do not do the trick, consider the idea of going underground. The Netherlands offers tourists a look at a city from the bottom up, so to speak. A tour of the bowels and or hidden waterways of the southern Dutch provincial capital of ’s-Hertogenbosch is very unique and unmatched elsewhere.

As every Dutch ambassador serving abroad will tell his hosts, we Dutch are experts in managing water. It is not some idle boast, based on wishful thinking. This Dutch experience with water management is based on experience spanning centuries during which tens of thousands lost their lives in all sorts of water-related tragedies, mostly due to an overabundance of it.

The origin of this Brabant capital has everything to do with creeks, streams the Aa, the Dommel (and since the 19th century the Zuid-Willemsvaart) and impassible marshland. The city’s history was shaped by it till a fortification builder found a way to dissect its natural defenses and building better ones. In addition to managing water, Den Bosch also managed space long before it became a science.

's-Hertogenbosch with a population of around 105,000 ranks as the fourth-largest city of Noord-Brabant, after Eindhoven, Tilburg and Breda. It is also a Roman Catholic diocese seat and formerly a regional garrison. The story of the Brabant capital, which is not widely-known, is further evidence that there remains much to be explored in the Netherlands.

To view the full article, including a gallery of images, request a copy of the January 13, 2012 issue of the Windmill Herald. This three-page amply illustrated article gives the reader a broad overview of this part of Dutch ‘underworld’, begging more attention when visiting the Netherlands next time.