City Walk Assen (“City of Palaces”)

(3.1 km)
Managed by: Recreatieschap Drenthe

The history of Assen started in 1260 with the Maria in Campis nunnery. This makes Assen’s history quite unique, in light of the fact that, unlike most provincial capitals, Assen doesn’t have an urban past. You can use the signposted walk from the location where the nunnery once stood.

This Cistercian nunnery was originally from the Coevorden region and dates back to the period from 1234 to 1246. Owing to Coevorden’s swampiness, the nunnery was moved to the location of the current Drents Museum between 1260 and 1271. After the implementation of the Reformation in Drenthe, the nunnery was dissolved in 1600.

Despite centuries of limited activity and low population numbers (600), Assen was granted city rights by King Louis Napoleon in 1809. In 1814 it became the provincial capital. The city’s affluent citizens subsequently had their “palaces” built here.

The rou…

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The history of Assen started in 1260 with the Maria in Campis nunnery. This makes Assen’s history quite unique, in light of the fact that, unlike most provincial capitals, Assen doesn’t have an urban past. You can use the signposted walk from the location where the nunnery once stood.

This Cistercian nunnery was originally from the Coevorden region and dates back to the period from 1234 to 1246. Owing to Coevorden’s swampiness, the nunnery was moved to the location of the current Drents Museum between 1260 and 1271. After the implementation of the Reformation in Drenthe, the nunnery was dissolved in 1600.

Despite centuries of limited activity and low population numbers (600), Assen was granted city rights by King Louis Napoleon in 1809. In 1814 it became the provincial capital. The city’s affluent citizens subsequently had their “palaces” built here.

The route starts at the Drents Museum at Brink 1. You can’t park here, but there is paid parking close to the museum on Torenlaan. You can also use the signposting present to start the route from other locations. You can shorten the route from Vaart N.Z. along De Kolk towards Gymnasiumstraat and Dr. Nassaulaan. This part is also signposted.

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Sights on this route

Starting point: Brink 1
9401 HS Assen

Drents Museum

Brink 1
9401 HS Assen

Kloosterstraat 1
Assen

Kloosterstraat
Assen

Brink 3
Assen

Brink 4 | entree Museumlaantje
9401HS Assen

Brink
Assen

Markt 7
Assen

Kerkhofslaan
9401 Assen

Kerkhofslaan 200
Assen

Beilerstraat 30
Assen

Doctor Nassaulaan 3 c
Assen

Zuidersingel 12
Assen
End point: Assen

Directions

Starting point: Brink 1
9401 HS Assen
    • The route starts at the Drents Museum at Brink 1. This building used to function as, among other things, a horse stable and residence for officials. You walk over the forecourt into Drostenlaantje heading towards Zuidersingel. To the right of Drostenlaantje is the Gouverneurstuin (Governor's Garden). At the end of Drostenlaantje, cross the bridge and Zuidersingel; then, continue the road to the left. Following the footpath, you see the estate of Landgoed Overcingel in front of you on your right at Oostersingel 27. This house was commissioned by a former secretary general of Drenthe’s tax authority: Mr Johan van Lier. Follow the canal for a little while, then cross the street and subsequently take the first road left into Kloosterstraat.
    • Kloosterstraat is one of Assen’s oldest streets. There were already buildings here when Assen was still a nunnery settlement. Walking down Kloosterstraat, you see a wall with a pump on your right. This wall was constructed in the 19th century using kloostermoppen (a well-known type of medieval stone brick). The pump’s inscription reads: “Renovatum Anno Domini MDCCCXVC,” Latin for “renovated in 1895.” Drosten House at Kloosterstraat 1 was constructed as a residential home for the drost (a high-ranking local official position) of Drenthe. It is now part of Drents Museum. Walking out of Kloosterstraat, take a right around the corner at the Drosten House.
    • You will see the building complex of Drents Museum on your right at Brink 3. Constructed in a Neo-Renaissance style, Het Gouvernementsgebouw first served as a national government’ building and later became the provincial seat. The current Brink is the former forecourt of the Maria in Campis nunnery. De Abdijkerk (“Abbey Church”) at Brink 2 now stands where the nunnery’s church once stood. Very little of this old church remains. Only a segment of the courtyard’s 13th-century southern wall remains. Most of the current shape of the building dates back to 1662. The church is part of the Drents Museum. There is provincial monument honouring the casualties of the Second World War on the lawn.
    • On the east side of Brink, you can see Huize Tetrode (“Tetrode House”)—also part of the Drents Museum. Notary Mr Anthonij Homan built Huize Tetrode in 1822. It was inhabited by the Tetrode family until 1930. To the right of Huize Tetrode lies Het Ontvangershuis (“Reception House”), which is probably the oldest residence in Assen. Stadholders (a type of governor) Prince William IV and Prince William V would stay in Het Ontvangershuis whenever they visited Drenthe. King of the Netherlands Louis Napoleon, brother of the French emperor Napoleon Bonaparte, also stayed in Het Ontvangershuis during his visit in 1809— which is also when he granted Assen its city rights.
    • Continuing towards Museumlaantje, on your right, next to the entrance of Het Ontvangershuis, lies a building with a small tower. This is the Drenthe Archive at Brink 4. After the nunnery was demolished, part of the eastern part of the nunnery’s hallway was saved. This is where the Drenthe Archive is now housed. Continue the route via Museumlaantje between Het Ontvangershuis and the Drenthe Archive. Here you will find the statue of Bartje, the protagonist of Anne de Vries’ children’s book with the same name. Bartje is most famous for saying: “Ik bid nie veur bruune boon’n” (literal translation: “I don’t pray for brown beans”). Walking past the garden, take a left towards Brink via 11 Decemberlaantje.
    • On your right lies the Huis van Bewaring prison, with the courthouse of Het Gerechtsgebouw (“judicial building”) behind it. Befitting the dominant architectural style of governmental buildings at the time, the district court, Paleis van Justitie, on Brinkstraat 4 was erected in Neoclassical style in 1840. There is a brickwork bank left on Brink. The bank was a gift from inhabitants of one of the Netherlands’ peninsulas, Texel, who were made to work here by Nazi occupiers during the Second World War. Now cross Brinkstraat towards Brinktrechter/Marktstraat. Markstraat is where the Tourist Information Office (VVV) is located. Follow Markstraat, which ends up at Markt.
    • Towards the end of last century, Markt was often bustling with the in- and outflow of merchandise-carrying laundry carts and handcarts. Cross Markt towards Kolk. Markt 11 and 12 is where you will find Hofstedehuis (“Hofstede House”). This house was named after one of its early-19th-century inhabitants, Mr Coenraad Wolter Ellents Hofstede. Across from this building, on the corner of Vaart Z.Z., you find Het Wapen van Drenthe. This building was constructed in 1781 as gentlemen’s lodging. On the right side of Markt (at number 7), on the corner of Kolk, lies the former residence of the Pelinck family, Het Pelinckhuis (“Pelinck House”). The small bell tower with a cross all the way on the left is reminiscent of the Witte Zusters (“White Sisters”) who lived in the building from 1938 onwards. At Het Pelinckhuis, cross the road to Kolk and Vaart N.Z. This is where Drentse Hoofdvaart discharges into De Kolk. Ships use its winding hole to turn around in.
    • The walk continues via Vaart N.Z. To your right lies the renovated theatre De Nieuwe Kolk. The houses at numbers 26, 28 and 30 of Vaart N.Z. are splendid examples of 19th-century traditional Assen homes: storey-free houses with an elevated middle section. Continue the route along Vaart N.Z. Cross the Witterbrug bridge and the road.
    • You are now on Vaart Z.Z. Continue the route to your left and then take a right into Kerkhofslaan. This little lane runs towards the Asserbos forest. You pass the cemetery Noorderbegraafplaats, which has been here since 1823. Members of Assen’s most distinguished families are buried here. The current Asserbos was built on the initiative of landscape clerk Hofstede between 1764 and 1784. It is a star-shaped forest with low, straight paths that intersect each other in star-shaped patterns. King Louis Napoleon gifted Assen this landscape forest in 1809. Leaving Kerkhofslaan, cross Hoofdlaan towards Hertenkamp. Walk around Hertenkamp towards Beilerstraat.
    • At the Beilerstraat-Van der Feltzpark crossroad, take a left towards Dr. Nassaulaan. On the right you see the former Rijks Hogereburgerschool (a former national form of secondary education). This building was constructed in 1868 and now houses RTV Drenthe. Take a right and continue the road towards the city centre. De Latijnse School (“Latin School”) was opened in the white building in 1820. Dr. Hendrik Jan Nassau was its first rector. On the right lies the church Maria ten Hemelopneming. The church dates back to 1934. Note the stained-glass windows portraying the life of St Mary. Now continue towards Kerkplein.
  • Before you reach Kerkplein, you see the Joseph Church—constructed between 1846 and 1848—on your left. Designed in a Neoclassical style, the church is a so-called waterstaatkerk. These “water state churches” are churches built between 1824 and 1850 under the supervision of Department of Public Works and Water Management engineers. Cross Kerkplein and continue the route towards Torenlaan. To your right, on the corner of Torenlaan and Zuidersingel, lies the former post office. Walking to the end of Torenlaan, you find yourself back at Brink.
End point: Assen