The province of Gelderland, The Netherlands

Province of Gelderland - Map of the NetherlandsGelderland is an East central mainland province, South of Overijssel; its capital is Arnhem. This is the biggest, least populated province of The Netherlands, with wide areas of forests and several Natural Park reserves.

Gelderland takes its history back to the 11 th century and the County of Gerle, which after the fall of Charlemagne’s European empire became independent. In the centuries after, the counts of Gerle incorporated in Gelderland the region of Betuwe, Veluwe, the county of Zutphen, and an important city of Nijmegen, one of the oldest in the Netherlands, which celebrated 2000 years of its existence in 2005.

At its beginning, Nijmegen was an ancient Roman military camp, which later grew to the real city. One of the emperor Charlemagne palaces has been built in Nijmegen and according to some documents, the town has been his favourite place of residence. In the Middle Ages Nijmegen became an important centre of commerce. As the Dukes of Burgundy grew in power in the 14 th century, they expanded their state from their capital in Dijon, France up to Nijmegen. During the last war, the American planes bombed by mistake the centre of Nijmegen taking it by mistake for the German city of Kleve and killing 750 of its inhabitants. Today Nijmegen is a big city, with some points of interest for a visitor as the museum of African culture - Africa Museum and the National Bicycle Museum, Velorama (Velorama - National Fietsmuseum) exhibiting 250 authentic veteran cycles.

Another big city of Gelederland is Arnhem, known for its WWII battle which 1944 ravaged its entire centre. The battle of Arnhem was to be the point of pride for the British marshal Montgomery, but became the monument of the dramatic failure of his command, costing lives of thousands of soldiers as well as Arnhem inhabitants. As a result of the battle, in September of 1944 all 98 thousands inhabitants of Arnhem had to leave their homes in dramatic circumstances and could only return after the capitulation of Germany on May 5, 1945. The old city has been destroyed. Restoration of some of its monuments will take many years to come.

The province of Gelderland borders with Germany and several of its cities were in the 14 th century member of the Hansa union of trading cities. The province itself accepted the upper power of the Holy Roman Emperor and later the Habsburg emperor in 1453. It is only in 1815 that Gelderland has been formally reunited with the Netherlands.

Today Gelderland is a province of contrasts: vast green area – forests, parks, with many old castles and palaces as Palace van Loo in Apeldoorn, castles - Huis Bergh, in s’Heerenberg, Bronkhorst, Oldenaller, Zaltbommel, just to name some of them, on the other hand Gelderland is an agricultural area (especially the Betuwe region) and has important industries near Arnhem and Nijmegen.

The visitor coming to Gelderland should not miss its one really invaluable attraction - The Kröller-Müller Museum in Otterlo. The Museum has been established in 1938 and was named after its founder, Helene Kröller-Müller, a Germanwife of the Dutch industrialist Anton Müller.

The Kröller-Müller Museum should not missed, not only because of its invaluable collection of modern art, which includes several works by Van Gogh an Mondrian and interesting modern sculpture garden, but also because of its park. Because the concept of the Kröller-Müller Museum is unique: here is the important art collection placed in the buildings in the middle of the forest, preserved as a natural reserve. Through out years the villages and its inhabitants were removed from the estate. A wild natural habitat has been restored, aiming at bringing the nature to its original state. Cars are allowed only on just few main roads and they can be conveniently left parked on a few selected places. Hundreds of white bicycles are given for the free use to the visitors at the park’s gates. Several tiny and narrow bicycle roads allow cyclists to visit the rich and varied natural area of forests, sandy dunes, marshes and lakes.

A perfect place for the whole day excursion from Amsterdam – the Kröller- Müller Museum, offers its guests not only the top art pieces of the contemporary art, but also a big area of silence and active relaxation.