Monday, 25 January 2016

Amersfoort Old Town Running Route

Click here for route map
Length 4.1 km (2.5 miles), terrain: flat

Amersfoort is a fairly typical Dutch town, with a beautiful old town full of narrow lanes lined by elegant old houses, market squares full of outdoor seating for an ample assembly of pubs and restaurants, with the whole place criss-crossed by canals, boat-locks and sluices. And surrounding the old town, there's a pulsing, modern city with big, planned communities of tidy row-houses and bike-ways. The Dutch have a knack for preserving their heritage while embracing the modern.
Doors on Muurhuizen
Here's a scenic little running route that takes you up and down some of the nicest streets in the old town, following the canals and the old town walls as much as possible, passing the main sights, and avoiding traffic.

So, if you're lucky enough to be spending a bit of time in this friendly town, head to the main market square, the Hof, at the St. Joris church. There's a little fountain in the center of the square, so let's start there: turn south and run out of the square along the narrow alley between the two pubs and cross the next street and canal.
The Hof market square: run straight that way!
The street lining the canal is called Langegracht, where we'll turn left to run southeast.

In a block, you'll cross the main (pedestrian) shopping street, called Langestraat, and then run by the little covered fish market. 
The fish market
Just keep running straight along the canal, where the street is now called Kortegracht.
Kortegracht
The street ends at Muurhuizen, so turn left here and run north along the long-curving lane. The houses on your right were built into the first of the two old city wall rings, built aroung 1300.
Muurhuizen houses along the old city wall
There is an arched gate tower later on, and when you get back to Langestraat, turn right and run out the old city gate at Kamperbinnenpoort
The city gate called Kamperbinnenpoort
You'll see a canal lines the back side of the Muurhuizen houses, and we'll turn right here and follow the curve past the way we came, along Zuidsingel (southern moat).
Along the Zuidsingel canal
When you reach the cross-street called Kleine Haag, turn left to run south one block to the second city wall ring, which was built a hundred years after the first one.

Now turn left to head north again, curving along the path at the walls. This wall-ring is now a narrow park with a path called Plantsoen Oost. There are distance markers painted on the asphalt walkway every 100 meters, to remind you of your progress, although I don't like such frequent reminders!
Along Plantsoenoost and its city walls
So now we're running the course of the newer medieval walls, with still another moat (actually, the Eem River) to your right. Sometimes you'll run by remains of the walls, and a couple of blocks still have complete walls.
Some surviving city wall
A loud street, Stadsring, lines the beginning of this section, however, making it a bit loud. After crossing the street called Kamp, you can even run along the top of the walls for a block, if you like (hey, who doesn't like something like that?).
Running on top of the city walls
After that, the traffic across the moat dies down and it's nice and quiet again.

Just after the 2-km marker on the pavement, you come to the biggest surviving gate, Koppelpoort. It's nice to turn right to run through the gate and cross the bridge outside it to get a better look at it.
Koppelpoort at night
Then just turn around to follow the canal back into the old town, heading southeast along the street called Spui, which ends after one long block.
Spui, with its sluice
At the end of the block, facing the museum across the water, keep left to continue along the water as it makes a sharp turn to the right.
Langegracht
Now take the first little bridge to your right to get back onto Langegracht, where we started the run, heading past a small church towards the big church tower visible over the housetops.

Before we go back to the main square, though, take the first diagonal turnoff onto Lievevrouwestraat, heading to that big church tower at the other main square in the old town.
The square at Lieve Vrouwekerkhof
The square, Lieve Vrouwekerkhof, is dominated by the giant church tower, the third highest in the country. The Lieve Vrouwe church itself was blown up 230 years ago in a gunpowder explosion, and the spot where the church was located is now the square. Now, the place is lined with pubs and restaurants and is a great spot to hang out in the evenings (I love the Hete Kolen barbeque restaurant!).

Now turn northeast to head up Haversteeg the two blocks back to Hof, the main square. And there you are: another great run in paradise!

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