What’s Doing in Arnhem, Netherlands

By Jonathan Spira on 2 May 2012
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Arnhem, perhaps best known for the Battle of Arnhem in the Second World War that was memorialized in the movie A Bridge Too Far, is a city in the eastern part of the Netherlands and the capital of the province of Gelderland.

The movie tells the story of Operation Market Garden, a failed attempt in September 1944 to break through German lines and seize several bridges in the Netherlands.

A major attraction is the John Frostbrug (John Frost Bridge) named after then Lt.-Colonel John Frost who was the commander of the British forces during Operation Market Garden.  It was originally known as the Rijnbrug (Rhine Bridge).  The World Liberty Concert, held in 1995 to commemorate the 50th anniversary of the liberation of Europe, was held at the bridge with a wide variety of well-known performers appearing.  The actual John Frostbrug that crosses the IJssel wasn’t used in the movie because nearby buildings had changed too much since the end of the war.  The movie was filmed in nearby Deventer, where a similar bridge crosses the IJssel.

Arnhem has a population of roughly 150,000 people and Arnhem-Nijmegen metropolitan area has over 736,000 inhabitants.

Although evidence of settlements go back thousands of years, Arnhem became a city in 1233, when the town received city rights from Otto II, count of Guelders. Over the centuries Arnhem was a part of Burgundy, the Holy Roman Empire, the Republic of the Seven United Provinces of the Netherlands, or France.

Arnhem today is well known for its beautiful parks and green spaces.  The northern part of the city, which is on hilly terrain, is quite unusual for the rather flat Netherlands.


There is much to do and see in Arnhem.  The Grote Kerk (also called the Eusebiuskerk  or church of St. Eusebius) was built between 1452 and 1560 but lost a good part of its tower during the Second World War.  It is the tallest building in Arnhem and its spire (accessible by lift) is a great way to see the city.

The Museum Voor Moderne Kunst (Museum of Modern Art) has an excellent collection of realist art that starts with the period 1890-1925 and continues with a variety of realist movements including magic realism, surrealism, and neo-realism from 1925 through 1960.  The Kröller-Müller Museum has works by Van Gogh in its collection.

The Airborne Museum Hartenstein is all about the Battle of Arnhem and is also well worth a visit.

The Historisch Museum Arnhem (Historical Museum of Arnhem) is located in a mid-eighteenth century building whose layout is preserved. It tells the history of the city until 1900.  According to the museum’s website, it closed for an indefinite period of time as of January 30, 2012.

Click here to continue to Page 2More Museums, Where to Stay, and How to Get There

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