Tuesday, 26 June 2012

Breda Old Town Running Route

Click here for route map 
Length 2.1 km (1.3 miles)

For more running routes, see the Route List!

Breda is one of those typical Dutch towns: beautiful old houses, inviting cafés, and amazing churches that make you jealous of the people who get to live there. And, if you ended up there for a trip, like I have a few times, you'll want to explore the area.

This route is more of a morning jog, one of the shortest routes that I've written up, but hopefully will guide you through the most interesting sights of this pleasant little town.

We'll start in the heart of town, at the old market square and loop around the old town, with its moated fortress and park.
The Grote Markt with the church in the background
Let's start at the Grote Markt, the main market square, with the beautifully worked stone church at the north end. The square is lined with restaurants and pubs in historical houses, and the town hall sits on the east side.

Turn south, with your back to the church and run the one block past the tree-lined north end of the square, then turn left on Sint Janstraat. There is a Georgian-era church on the right, and more pubs and restaurants.

In about 150 meters you'll run into a triangular square with a great bookstore on the left. Run straight through  square on Veemarktstraat (cattle market street).

The Vemarkt
It soon curves to the left, running into Catharinastraat, where you turn left and curve more towards the left. You'll pass fascinating antique clock stores on the left (clocks in windmills?) and then pass the Begjnhof, a sort of nunnery for protestant women, with the little Wallon church out front, where Peter Stuyvesant got married (he invented cigarettes).

If the front door to the Begjnhof is open run through its beautiful little courtyard with its cottages surrounding a vegetable garden.
In the Begjnhof
Now continue west on Catharinastraat for a few steps until you see the opening for Valkenberg Park on the right side. Run into the park and do a counter-clockwise loop through the park. You'll reach the far side of the park, then turn left to go past the fountain and go past the west edge of the park.
In Valkenberg Park
The park is bordered here by a moat for Breda Castle lying just west of it. The castle is now used as a Dutch officers' training college.
View of the military academy from the park
When you reach the southwest corner of the park, turn right to continue running past the front side of the castle, and its draw-bridge. 
Across the draw-bridge to the castle: hmm does it really draw?
Keep running west along Cingelstraat and Kraanstraat, where you come to the canal of Breda Harbor. Turn left and run the 100 meters to the bridge that crosses the canal to take a look in both directions.
View from the harbor bridge
Now turn eastwards from the bridge and run east along Fismarktstraat (Fishmarket Street). You'll see the old fishmarket on your right, near the water.
View up Vismarkt
Run the one block to the church, then turn south on Torenstraat to run past the front of the church, then turn left to follow the south side of the church to run back to Grote Markt and your starting point. The church is beautiful on the inside, so make time to visit it and its exquisitely carved grave-monuments to the Dutch kings.
The church tower

Wow, that's a lot of impressions for such a short route! Maybe it's time to head up a few of the other old streets from the Grote Markt and discover more of beautiful Breda!

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