|Its has become a tradition, when I am back in the Netherlands, to visit my brother Ruud in Groningen.|
For those, not familiar with Dutch geography, Groningen is the northernmost province of my country. It has a rich historical past and the countryside is dotted with old churches and manor houses.
After coffee and lunch, we started with a visit of the "borg" Verhildersum. A "borg" is the Groningen equivalent of a manor house. This one is relatively small and very old, dating back to the 14th century. Inhabited until 1953 and surrounded by a moat, ornamental gardens and orchards, it now houses a museum.
It was beautiful autumn weather, we walked in the gardens, visited the apple orchard (picking fruits unfortunately not allowed) and had a look at a small workman's house.
On the way back we passed an attractive corn mill, still in working condition. The sails of the mill had a very special design, typical for wind mills in Groningen.
Ruud and Jur have recently finished a major renovation of their house, adding an extra floor, from where you have a nice view of the surroundings.
After a drink there, we went to a Mexican restaurant in town for our dinner.
The next day we decided to visit another borg, Nienoord, in the southern part of the province. Totally different atmosphere from Verhildersum. The original borg was built in 1525, but completely destroyed by fire in 1850. Later rebuilt in neoclassical style. Only the access gate is old.
The owners belonged to the Groningen nobility, wealthy from the peat-cutting industry.
Part of the borg is now a restaurant, popular with wedding parties. On the Nienoord estate is also located the Dutch National Carriage Museum, a fascinating collection of horse-drawn carriages, tilburies, coaches etc. And there is a funny folly, a Seashell Grotto, the interior completely covered with seashells.
On our way back we visited a few churches. Parts of the Reformed Church of Midwolde (the tower and the nave) date back to the 12th century! Note the mixture of Gothic and Romanesque architecture. Nearby, in the small village of Lettelbert, another very old church dates back to the early 13th century.
There are more than sixty historical churches in the Groningen province alone, so I will have to come back..;-)