Discover Westerwolde, the birthplace of the Netherlands...

Nowhere is the history of the Netherlands more evident than in Westerwolde. In fact, it is the place where the Netherlands as a nation was born. 

The birth of the Republic of the Seven United Netherlands

The undulating, seemingly unspoiled Westerwolde landscape has seen turbulent times dating back to many centuries before the Common Era. But the year 1568 stands out in its history. That year, at Wedde Castle, the battle of Heiligerlee was planned, which would trigger the revolt against Philip II of Spain. William of Orange instructed his brother, William Louis of Nassau, to capture North-Netherland from Germany. An armed conflict of many years ensued. William of Orange and the republicans built redoubts to block all access roads to Groningen. Fortress Bourtange on the German border was one of them. In 1593, William Louis finally captured Wedde Castle . He completed Fortress Bourtange and also built Oudeschans. This was the beginning of what was to become the Republic of the Seven United Netherlands. And the great thing is that both the castle and the two forts have survived the test of time and can still be visited!

The defence of the Netherlands and the Battle of Jipsinghuizen

Westerwolde not only played a major part in the conception of the Netherlands, but also in its later defence. In 1665, the Bourtange garrison participated in the Battle of Jipsinghuizen, where the invading army of Berend van Galen, the bishop of Münster (Germany), aka "Berend the Bomber", was defeated, preventing Groningen from being conquered.

History in nature

Westerwolde is unique not only for its historic buildings – including the 15th-century monastery of Ter Apel – but also because of its outstanding natural beauty. The region's nature also provides insights into its past, a history rich with impregnable swamps, large-scale peat extraction, extensive agricultural and forestry areas and rippling streams. By the end of the last century, the valleys of the Ruiten Aa, Westerwoldse Aa and Mussel Aa had been restored to their original state, and the streams once again meander through the fascinating landscape rich in plant and animal species. There is no better time for you to start exploring the Westerwolde region by bicycle or on foot . Westerwolde is well worth a visit, if only for the fact that this is where the foundation of the Netherlands was laid.

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