This page contains excerpts from a guide to Zaltbommel. It is added as background information for a write-up of a trip to Zaltbommel.
Welcome to Zaltbommel
A SHORT HISTORY OF THE CITY
Originally the city was called Bommel, and until today the city is so called by the residents. The town of Zaltbommel was first mentioned as "Bomela" in the year 850. In a later phase (first reference in 1297) the settlement gets the prefix 'Salt' or 'Saut' to be able to distinguish it from the other Bommel (Maasbommel). The 'Salt' addition refers to the salt trade that was important here. Salt was transported by ship and probably traded in Zaltbommel and was very important especially for the salting of fish. In the 13th century Zaltbommel grew into an important trading city and in the 15th century into a significant Hanseatic city. Zaltbommel received city rights in 1231 and these were renewed in 1315, when Count Reinald I received the same city rights as Zutphen and the fortifications were built, which are still there today. One of these rights was the freedom to organize a weekly market on Tuesday mornings, a tradition that is maintained up till today. The layout of the inner city and the names of the original streets have also been maintained since those early days. On July 31, 1572, during the Eighty Years' War, Zaltbommel was taken by the Watergeuzen (“Sea Beggars”, rebels against the Spaniards) led by Dirck van Haeften. Subsequently, the Spaniards besieged the city unsuccessfully in the following years, including the blockade of 1574. In June 1575 Zaltbommel, together with Buren, joined the Union of Dordrecht between Holland and Zeeland, with which both cities in fact separated themselves from Gelre; this was only reversed in 1602.
At the insistence of Maurits van Nassau, the city was further strengthened. Before this modernization was completed, the Spaniards besieged the city again during the siege in 1599. Both Prince Maurits and council pensioner Oldebarneveldt and part of the States General met during the siege in the city. From the Maarten van Rossumhuis they had a good view of the strategic works. When the Spanish general noticed that a quick success was impossible, he broke the siege. The fortifications were completed according to plan in the early seventeenth century. After the capture of 's-Hertogenbosch in 1629, Zaltbommel was no longer a border town and the strategic significance quickly declined. The city no longer grew. In 1672 it was fairly easy for the French to reach the gates and take the city through the landed canal. This was repeated more than a century later, in 1784. The gates were destroyed on those occasions. In the mid-nineteenth century, the bastions were recreated one by one in a romantic park, a cemetery and a playground. The towers and the gates disappeared almost completely, only the Waterpoort (Water Gate) remained. Since then, the walls have received little more than the most necessary maintenance.
ZALTBOMMEL CITY WALK
The city walk starts and ends on the Markt ("Market") in Zaltbommel. Take a walk around the Markt and see the many buildings that are worth seeing. On this walk you pass a number of gutter ghosts. These are small statues of terrazzo, created by Joris Baudoin, mostly to be found in a gutter and they usually tell something about the inhabitants or the history of the building.1Markt 12 - Town hall One of the eye-catchers on the Markt is the town hall. Ever since the Middle Ages, 'de vroege vaderen' ('the early fathers') – the city council – have been meeting there and justice was administered there. The current façade dates from 1762, the landing was built in 1724. The lions on the steps carry the Gelderse coat of arms with two climbing lions on the left and the old city coat of arms of Zaltbommel on the right, a sword between two medlar flowers. During carnival, Zaltbommel is therefore called 'Mispelgat'. The prison used to be on the left side of the steps behind the green doors. Today the Zaltbommel tourist office is housed there. There is a sundial on the tower. Since 2005, the town hall has had a representative function. It is used as a wedding location and the city council meets there. To the right of the landing is an information board on which the history of Zaltbommel can be read.
A famous marriage that was celebrated here is that of the Zaltbommel pianist Suzanne Leenhoff, daughter of the city carilloneur, who in 1863 gave the yes to the French painter Eduard Manet.2Markt 15 - Stadswaag Until well into the nineteenth century sales tax was levied by the city council at the Stadswaag (weighting house). The goods had to be weighed to determine the level of taxxation. Against the façade is a statue of a woman with scales and a standard weight. The city coat of arms is placed in the tympanum. The façade dates from 1796.
A well-known welcome guest at Markt 9 was Karl Marx, a cousin of the Philips family. In the years that he worked on 'Das Kapital', Marx stayed in Zaltbommel a few times.4Markt 3 - House The Mirror This building owes its name to the stone ornament around the window on the second floor that, together with the wall pillar, has the shape of a hand mirror. The story goes that a former resident was rather vain, and that her husband mocked it. The façade dates from 1525.
House The Mirror
The extending low part of the house is a so-called 'pot house'. It is a half above the ground extension of the basement where the craftsman used to work in the light and close to the street. From this place you can see two more 'pot houses'.
Gelderland Coat of Arms
Continue through Waterstraat in the direction of Waterpoort. In this street the houses often still have their own stone pavements. Many older houses are usually hidden behind the stately nineteenth-century façades.7Waterstraat 26 - House of the Shameless This house owes its name to the richly decorated Renaissance façade on the first floor, where nude dancing angels decorate the façade. This façade dates from around 1550. Note the lower doors with the high windows, decorated with gilded sculpted monkeys and salamanders. 8Waterstraat 21 - Hotel Gottschalk The building of the former hotel Gottschalk has an Art Deco style façade. This is visible through the processing of green glazed tiles and brick reliefs.
House of the Shameless
In De Soete Invalle
Walk under the Waterpoort (Water Gate) and turn left. Stop right around the corner at the 'De Verdraagzaamheid' (The Tollerance) building.11Waalkade 6 - The Tolerance Under the Waterpoort you immediately see 'De Verdraagzaamheid' on the left. The building of the Heeren Societeit (getlemen society) dates from 1871 and stands on the site where the old toll house used to be. De Heeren Societeit has been around for more than 200 years and the members still regularly meet in the upper room.
Cross over to the promenade along the Waal.12Waalkade / Veerweg - The water boy In the flood plain there is a statue of Marcel Smink 'De Waterjongen' (the water boy). The statue indicates with his hand the height of the retaining wall: 8.87 meters above sea level. The bust on the square in front of 'De Verdraagzaamheid' indicates the same height. During the evacuation of the Bommelerwaard in 1995, the water was 7.43 meters above sea level.
Turn right to follow the promenade.
The Water Boy
From the promenade you have a beautiful view over the river with the bridges. The rear bridge is the railway bridge from 1868. The new concrete traffic bridge (Martinus Nijhoff bridge) is a cable-stayed bridge, opened in 1996.13Waalkade / Korte Steigerstraat - Jip and Janneke At the level of Korte Steigerstraat you will find the statue of 'Jip and Janneke'. Fiep Westendorp, illustrator of the children's books Jip and Janneke, came from Zaltbommel. As an artist, she is best known for her decorations with the stories of Annie M.G. Schmidt. Until 1945 she lived in number 2 on Korte Steigerstraat, the house with the nice bay window that you can just see from here.
In Zaltbommel you often come across the work of Fiep Westendorp. For example, take a look at the signposts.
Continue to the end of the promenade, then past the coupure (opening in the flood defense) and follow the footpath. After the white house on your right, go down the stairs to the right into Bloemendaal.
The old street lamp that you see against a house on the corner is originally an old gas lantern.14Bloemendaal 5-7 This is the oldest stone house in Zaltbommel. Presumably it was built around 1400 as a warehouse by a rich merchant. His goods would be better protected against fire, water, vermin and thieves in a stone building.
Jip and Janneke
Walk straight from the Bloemendaal into the Gasthuisstraat. Also note a number of particularly beautiful front doors in this street.15Gasthuisstraat 36 - The Guesthouse Chapel The white building on the left, the Gasthuiskapel (Guesthouse chapel), is part of the Groot Bommelsch Gasthuis that was founded between 1316 and 1319. Its location is not coincidental, because a little further to the right was the Steigerpoort which gave access to the city. Traveling monks, pilgrims and strangers could spend the night here or be cared for when they were sick. The Gasthuiskapel is now primarily a place where cultural events take place, but also a popular location for family parties or business meetings. 16Gasthuisstraat 34 - The guesthouse tower The Gasthuistoren (guesthouse tower) was originally a detached bell tower from the fifteenth century. At every full hour, horsemen from approximately 1700 rotate around the clock to as to perform a fight. The 35 bells of the seventeenth century Hemony carillon are still played every Tuesday morning during the weekly market.
Niet sonder Godt 1605
At the end of Gasthuisstraat, turn left onto Boschstraat.
The Boschstraat has traditionally been one of the access routes to the center. At the beginning of this street was the 'Bossche Poort' that used to give access to the fortification.21Boschstraat 21 - The Great Rose Balconies are hardly found in the center of Zaltbommel. This house De Groote Roos and Boschstraat 5 are the exceptions. Boschstraat 21 has a balcony that is supported by two load-bearing women. 22Boschstraat 22 This building has beautiful decorations display cabinets from the eighteenth century.
De Groote Roos
Take the first left onto Ruiterstraat.24Ruiterstraat 6 At this house with stepped gable from the seventeenth century, the brick is interspersed with layers of natural stone in the façade. This is also the case with the houses at numbers 14-16 and 18. From the stepped gable, Cupid looks at who he can shoot with his arrows.
At the Ruiterstraat 20, turn left into the Korte Strikstraat that leads onto the Vischmarkt (Fish Market). Turn right here.26Fish Market The Vischmarkt (Fish Market) dates from 1776. The fish was traded on the stone table in the middle. There was enough supply from the Waal where a lot of salmon was caught. In the gallery were the buyers who could bid for a 'bunch of' fish. In the wooden pediment of the gallery is the city coat of arms of Zaltbommel with the year in Roman numerals underneath. The freestone water pump for the Vismarkt is still in its original location. The pump dates from the beginning of the nineteenth century. There are five remaining water pumps in the city center. The most beautiful is in the garden of Museum Stadskasteel Zaltbommel (Museum town castle Zaltbommel), in the shape of a waterman.
Turn right onto Kerkstraat.27Kerkstraat 26 This address consists of 2 houses, 'De Ark' and 'De Trippe', with façades from around 1600. The left building has a leaning façade, designed to prevent water is trapped. The Trippe was the tribal home of the Amsterdam regent family Trip, that later became rich through the hardware and arms trade. The parents of the Zaltbommel brothers Elias and Jacob Trip were clog makers. A Trip is a wooden shoe, lighter than a clog with a leather strap.
Continue on Kerkstraat towards the church and turn left in front of the church (walk clockwise). You are now on Kerkplein (Church Square).
Kerkplein is a serene and atmospheric corner of the city with a number of former canon houses. Canons were the spiritual members of the chapter attached to the church.28Kerkplein 1 - Sint-Maartenskerk Originally a Roman Catholic church to which a chapter (administrative college) of canons was attached. The impressive tower from around 1500 was once 100 meters high. After a lightning strike, however, the spire caught fire on Ascension Day in 1538. The later spire was not that high anymore, but in 1696 that one was also destroyed by fire. The tower then was left without a spire and remained at a height of 70 meters. The church was built in Lower Rhine Gothic style with a main nave that is higher than the side aisles, creating galleries on the sides of the main nave.
Zaltbommel celebrates the feast of St Martin's Day on November 11. The Sint Maartensfeest is a special feast that is about sharing. According to legend, the young Roman army officer Martinus (born in the year 316) shared his cloak with a beggar. This story is staged every year in the Sint Maartenskerk where Sint Maarten and his retinue appear on his horse in the church. Afterwards the children go with their often homemade lanterns to the houses and sing Sint Maartens songs. Half of the candy they pick up goes to the Bommelerwaard Food Bank.29Kerkplein 15-17 - D'Oude Lombard. This used to be a canon house. A canon still lives in the gutter of the fifteenth-century building. After the time of the canons, the pawnshop (bank of loans) was established here in the seventeenth century. 30Kerkplein 16 - The Governor's House The first owner was Jan van Rossem, brother of the general Maarten van Rossem. Between 1572-1602 this was the home of the governor who was in charge during this period of the Eighty Years' War in Gelderland. The house was largely demolished in the eighteenth century.
The Governor's House
Maarten van Rossum (c. 1478 – June 7, 1555) was a military tactician who became field marshal in the service of Charles, Duke of Guelders. Van Rossum was born in Zaltbommel. He is known to have been an experienced commander and is renowned for actions while serving Charles of Guelders in his Guelders Wars against Charles V. He is also known for his participation in the sack of The Hague in 1528. After the Duchy of Guelders was defeated, he simply switched sides, and started working for Charles V, his former enemy.31Kerkplein 10 - De Schutse Since 1592 an orphanage stood here. Nowadays it is still a building where young people live who receive room training to become independent.
Turn left into Nieuwstraat.32Nieuwstraat 12 - Old Men and Women's House This is the precursor of the retirement home. 'Cameren' (old Dutch for 'rooms') were built for old people on the grounds of the former beguinage behind it. In 1778 a space was built on the street for the administration (the regents) with appropriate sculpture.
Old Men and Women's House
Cross the intersection and walk into the Nonnenstraat.33Nonnenstraat 5-7 - Museum Stadskasteel Zaltbommel This building is also called the Maarten van Rossem House. Maarten van Rossem, general in the armies of Duke Charles van Gelre and Emperor Charles V, had the house built in 1535 in late Gothic style with Renaissance elements. The battlements and the four corner towers with shooting holes give the house castle allure. Striking are the special entrance gate with columns and a brace arch, the stone cross windows and the generously decorated archways above the windows. Above the current entrance door is written ANN0 1613, the year that the former large gate was given a wooden layout with windows and a door. This large gate and the same gate opposite to the rear suggest that the house might have been intended as a gatehouse. Doors and shutters are painted in the red-white colors of the Maarten van Rossem coat of arms: three red parrots on a white field.
Over the centuries, the house has been inhabited by several notables. In 1881 the government bought the heavily dilapidated house, which saved it from demolition. After a major restoration by Chief Government Architect Pierre Cuypers, the cantonal court settled here in 1884. Justice was administered until 1934. All extensions were demolished in 1908, leaving the house detached. After another internal restoration, the Vereniging Oudheidkamer (historical society) moved into the house in 1937. In 1954 this name was changed to the Maarten van Rossem Museum Foundation. In 2008 the name was changed again to Museum Stadskasteel Zaltbommel. Stadskasteel tries to keep the history of Zaltbommel and Bommelerwaard alive with a collection of thousands of objects and is more than worth a visit. The walled museum garden with museum cafe/shop are freely accessible during opening times.
Continue your way in the Nonnenstraat.34Nonnenstraat / Oliestraat On the right you pass the Oliestraat. From here you can just see the bell tower of the St. Martinus church on the left-hand side above the houses. The nave of this Catholic church from 1837 and the adjacent rectory were built in the 'Waterstaat style', under the supervision of the engineers of the Ministry of Water Management.
Museum Stadskasteel Zaltbommel
Nonnenstraat / Oliestraat
Turn left onto the Oliemolen.
Nonnenstraat / Kloosterstraat
Nonnenstraat / Karstraat
Oliemolen, Botanical and Herb Garden
Go through the gate and walk up the ramparts.39Singelwal and the fortifications The fortifications are clearly visible from here. The fortress wall, the inner fortress moat, the high fortress wall, the bastions and the outer moat. After the fortifications no longer served, after 1848 a large park park was constructed on the ramparts and the seven bastions, designed by the legendary city architect F.W. the Virieu.
Follow the ramparts to the right.40Singelwal / Zandstraat At the open space you have a good view on the right side of the houses on the Zandstraat. This beautiful row of houses on the outskirts of the city dates from the seventies of the last century, but the houses appear older due to their architectural style, which makes them fit well into the historic street scene. The Zandstraat was the last street in the city that was paved.
Singelwal and the fortifications
Singelwal / Zandstraat
At the end of the rampart, turn right into Gamerschestraat.41Gamerschepoort The Gamerschestraat is at its narrowest at this location. The Gamersche Gate used to give access to the city here. This gate was demolished in 1860, but remains of it are still visible. The Gamerschestraat is a generous wide street with allure. Often large houses, built in different time periods, with freestone pavements at the front: Often equipped with curbs with beautiful fencing. A large number of houses is a national monument. 42Gamerschestraat 81 The façades of this corner house date from 1860. The windows have beautiful decorative moldings with stucco on the top. Under the cornice a decoration of mouse teeth. The house used to be called Sellevue, probably because of the beautiful view.
Before the Markt, turn left onto Tolstraat and continue until you reach the private entrance.48Tolstraat 15 to 23 The houses you look at came into the possession of Lion Philips between 1855 and 1866. The rather small houses at the time were united and offered a great deal of living space to the large young family of Frederik Philips, who lived there until 1879. Gerard and Anton Philips were brought up here.
Tolstraat 15 to 23
Now walk back to the Markt. The city walk ends here. We hope you enjoyed our beautiful town on the Waal.
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