The medium sized east Netherlands town of Arnhem is better known for its past than its presence. Having spent eight days of the Second World War welcoming allied parachutists at the heart of Operation Market Garden. The town has never regained the same notoriety it had for that brief week in 1944. It’s also the sight of ‘A Bridge Too Far’, the spot where British soldiers tried to gain a foothold on the Rhine River, failing despite colossal efforts.
The Garden of the Rhine has a few of its own modern day draws too, though. Those who like their holiday snaps resplendent with stereotypes will enjoy the impressive De Kroon windmill, while those with environmental leanings will take home ideas stemming from the city’s green-friendly trolley transport and abundance of bicycles. The Otterloo Gallery has an impressive collection of Van Gogh’s, and the Airbourne Museum gives a brief taste of those fateful wartime days, not forgetting to explore the more modern side of airplanes alone the way.
The Dutch Open Air Museum is an enthralling mix of Dutch history and costume play, focusing on the more ancient aspects of this impressive nation, while you can get another fill of symbolism exploring the city-centre gardens, especially when the tulips are in season. Perhaps Arnhem’s best kept secret is the lively nightlife, unexpectedly vibrant for such a small city, especially around the central squares.
Head out of town and you’ll have the chance to take in Doorwerth Castle (which dates back to medieval times), while slipping across the border into Germany is easily achievable as a daytrip. Above all, though, Arnhem appeals as a small town with a big history and a big heart. If, like many more adventurous travelers, you prefer a taste of the soul of a country rather than a cruise around its more well-known sights, this might well be the perfect spot for you.
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