The city of Den Bosch, or ‘s-Hertogenbosch (both names are correct), is filled with incredible things to do. But one must do in Den Bosch has to be a walking tour. If you prefer to walk at your own pace, with your own information, without a budget, then this free walking tour for Den Bosch is perfect for you. Whether you simply don’t have a lot of budget when you’re visiting Den Bosch, or you like to stay in charge when you visit the city of ‘s-Hertogenbosch, this walking tour cannot miss on your Den Bosch itinerary.
Your perfect and complete free walking tour ‘s-Hertogenbosch: Travel inside the city of Den Bosch
One of the best ways to explore a city is by a walking tour. And because not everyone wants to go on a guided tour through Den Bosch, I’ve created my very own self-guided and free walking tour for ‘s-Hertogenbosch. All you have to do is follow the map (at the end of this the article), this for the information and you’re settled. Take it easy and walk through Den Bosch like a champion.
There will be many beautiful churches, streets, monuments and fortifications in Den Bosch that I will be talking about. I’m not religious, but I do find the history behind buildings fascinating. Whether you’re religious or not, this free walking tour for Den Bosch will show you everything from hidden gems to amazing squares. And from unusual places in Den Bosch to the city centre.
This Den Bosch walking tour is around 12 kilometres long, so wear some comfortable shoes.
We will start our Den Bosch tour at Torenstraat 18, which is the famous Sint Janskathedraal, or Saint Johns Cathedral. It’s one of the most beautiful churches and basilicas in The Netherlands. This church is designed in the Brabantine Gothic style. The incredible exterior and interior make this a unique place to visit in Den Bosch.
A Romanesque church was first located on the current location of the Sint Jan church. The creation of that church started in 1220 and was in construction until 1340. After the church became a collegiate church, the church was slowly changed into a new church in a Gothic style until it was finished in 1530. Essentially, you can say that construction of the Sint Jan church in ‘s-Hertogenbosch started in 1220 and was completed in 1530.
So, as I said, the Sint Jan church was first built as a parish church but became a collegiate church in 1366. It became a cathedral in 1559. It gained its honorary title of a basilica on the 22nd of June 1929. There are many impressive monuments to find inside this basilica in The Netherlands. One of them is an almost 20 metres high organ case, which is said to be one of the most beautiful organ fronts in the world and it dates back to the beginning of the 17th century. There are many pieces of this basilica in Den Bosch that are way older than that.
The Sint- Jan basilica was built on top of the Romanesque church and parts of the old church are still found in the current cathedral. Also, fun fact about this basilica and cathedral in Den Bosch: it’s the biggest cathedral in The Netherlands.
You can also climb the tower of the Sint Jan (St. Johns in English) church in Den Bosch for a stunning view of the city and its surroundings. Here you can find more information on when you can enter the Sint Jan church in ‘s-Hertogenbosch. And there’s even a museum located at this church as well, which shows you many things like archaeological findings, etc.
Now continue to walk to Choorstraat 1. Here you will find the rectory of the pastor of the Sint Jankathedraal, the pastor for this cathedral in Den Bosch is a woman by the way. In the 18th and 19th century a lending bank was found here. After that closed and moved to another part of the city of Den Bosch in 1852, it was bought by the church council of the Sint- Jan. In 1855, reconstruction of the building started, and it was finished a year later.
Walk to Hinthamerstraat 94 and discover a beautiful house (and museum), which is called the Zwanenbroedershuis, or swan brothers house. In 1318, a special brotherhood was formed in Den Bosch. They used to come together in a chapel in the Sint- Jan church, but they moved to this location in 1484. In 1535-1538, the building was reconstructed in Renaissance style.
But after three centuries, this building was decayed. In 1846-1847, a new neo-gothic building was constructed, which was restored in the 1950s. During that restoration, four statues were added to the facade, and one of them is pretty special: the first royal of Orange that became a Zwanenbroeder was William of Orange. It’s currently a museum, but also still in use for meetings for the members of the brotherhood.
Now, continue one of the must do’s in Den Bosch to Louwschepoort 20. There you will see a line of former workers cottages that were built in the 19th century. Then you will make your way to Schilderstraat 33. This building was first established as a glass-blowing factory in 1842. After twelve years, the building was owned by a municipal lending bank. Until the beginning of the 1930s, a small part of the Binnendieze flowed in front of the right facade until this part of the canal was filled in.
Continue walking in ‘s-Hertogenbosch and walk towards Hinthamerstraat 217. This is a former chapel in Den Bosch, but only its facade is still left. It was built in 1491, and during the iconoclasm, it was heavily damaged in 1566. It was only restored during the truce between the Dutch Republic and the Spanish (during the 80-year-war). The armistice lasted from 1609- 1621 and to restore the chapel took those entire twelve years.
But during the Siege of Den Bosch, it was damaged once again, and it was mostly broken down in 1640. During the 18th century, the remaining part of the chapel was in use as a warehouse. During the middle of that century, the roof collapsed, which left only the facade intact. In 1913, the facade was finally restored by architects and employees who were also renovating the Sint Janskathedraal, and they added statues to the facade.
Now make your way to Hinthamerstraat (St.Jacobskerk) 175. Currently, in the Sint- Jacobskerk, a former Roman-Catholic church, there is the Jheronimus Bosch Art Center found, but most of the interior of the church is kept. This church was built in 1905 on the same location as a previous church that was dedicated to James the Great. Its final church services were held in 2002. Next to the western side of the church, you can find a tall bell tower, which was inspired by an Italian campanile.
At Bethaniestraat 2A, you can find an old Catholic church called Oude Sint Jacobskerk. Nowadays it’s in use as an office and depot of the heritage department of the municipality of ‘s- Hertogenbosch. It was built in 1430 as a chapel and a guest house for pilgrims to Santiago de Compostella. From 1569, this church became a parish church, and it was expanded to its current size in 1584. After the Siege of ‘s- Hertogenbosch in 1629, it became a protestant church until 1650. After that, it was in use as a coach house, cemetery, horse- stable, military arsenal and barracks.
Now make your way to Nachtegaalslaantje 1. Here you see a former school, which was designed by city architect J.M. Nabbe and finished in 1856. Its facade is made symmetrical and from hardstone. After that, we will walk to Oude Dieze.
At Peperstraat 6, you can find one of the best kept patrician houses in The Netherland, especially its interior is spectacular and something you won’t find everywhere in The Netherlands. This house is called Huizinghe De Loet and is named after the first inhabitant of the house: Mechtelt van Loet. The history of the people who lived in a patrician house on this location dates back to centuries ago.
The current house was constructed between 1832 and 1842. In the garden of De Loet, there’s an 18th-century tea house. This house cannot be visited often. But you can visit the garden during the open garden days (Open Tuindagen) in Den Bosch, which is one day during summer and once during winter. As well as during Open Monumentendag which is usually every second weekend in September.
Now continue your ‘s- Hertogenbosch free walking tour to Parade, Korte Putstraat and Lange Putstraat. And then walk to Verwersstraat 49. This Wallonian church in Den Bosch was built in 1847. It originally had pinnacles on its facade, but those were removed as they were endangering people who passed the building in 1890. This church is not in use for church services anymore but is often rented for meetings and other events.
Then we will continue to Bastionder. This bastion in Den Bosch is called Bastion Oranje and is one of the defence works at the city wall of ‘s-Hertogenbosch. The reason why it’s called Bastion Oranje, or Bastion Orange, is because this bastion was built in the assignment of the state government in 1634. This bastion was added to the fortifications of Den Bosch latest because the distances between the former Bastion Baselaar and Vught were too big.
Fun fact: This bastion was built against the remains of the Medieval city wall. A defence tower was turned into a hollow bastion, which meant that inside the stronghold there was water. So, when the enemy did pass the beginning of the bastion, they still had to cross the water.
Information centre ‘Bastionder’ has been opened in Bastion Oranje since 2009. Here you can discover more about the history of Den Bosch and its fortifications.
Then make your way to Spinhuiswal 1, where you will find a former refuge shelter of the St. Geertrui Abbey from the Belgian city of Leuven. Now walk to Prins Bernhardstraat 8. At this location, you can see a former synagogue, which is currently a concert hall. The only thing that remembers its Jewish history are the three plaques with the names of Jewish inhabitants of Den Bosch who didn’t survive the Second World War.
After that, you will walk to Verwersstraat 41. This building was built as an official residence for the military governor in 1768- 1769. Pieter de Swart designed it. The building is found on a location where a monastery for Jesuits was located. Then in the 18th century, the monastery was reconstructed into a government building and official residence for the military governor.
After that, you will make your way to Keizerstraat and Sint Jorisstraat. Now continue your free walking tour through -s’Hertogenbosch to Kruisbroedershof 4. Here you will see the Kruiskerk, or Sint- Catharina church. This Roman-Catholic church was named after Saint Catherine of Alexandria, and you can find an image of her above the portal. This church in Den Bosch was built in three periods and has changed a lot over time. At first, it was a Gothic church and built by male monks as their monastery church in 1533. It then got the function of a parish church in 1569.
This church was expanded in 1601. After the Siege of ‘s- Hertogenbosch, the Roman Catholic church became a protestant church in 1629. There were church services until 1794, but after that, this building was only used as a hay barn and horse- stable. In 1810, the church was given back to the Catholics.
But at that time, the building was heavily damaged, and a part of it has collapsed. In 1844, the church was reconstructed, and only the apse of the Medieval church was kept. After years, it was discovered that this building wasn’t constructed well and they decided to build, yet another, new church in Den Bosch.
This time the Haga Sophia inspired the church. Architect Jan Stuyt designed this domed church in The Netherlands. Construction started in 1916, and it was finished in 1918. Mid 2015, the church wasn’t in use anymore. It was then discussed to give it a temporary function as a theatre, as the building of the current theatre was supposed to be renovated and reconstructed, but that didn’t happen. But since the beginning of 2019, the church building has been in use by several religious communities again.
At Vughterstraat 98, you will discover a beautiful mansion. This building has been first written about when it was a rectory in 1591. It has also been used as a hidden church. Continue one of the things to do in Den Bosch to Berewouthof 1. These buildings are old, military barracks and were built, at the same time as three other barracks in Den Bosch, in 1744. Before these barracks were finished, the military stayed in the homes of individuals who were paid for housing them.
It’s interesting to know that it was built on the location of a former city gate in Den Bosch: Sint- Jans Poort. And the military used to practice on the Markt square, but they started practising from the Parade from 1749. Can you imagine it nowadays? The military practising on some of the, now, busiest places in the city. It was reconstructed as houses for civilians at the beginning of the 20th century.
Then walk to the Paleisbrug. This bridge is located over the rails of the train station of Den Bosch and sort of connects the new, modern part of Den Bosch with the old city of ‘s-Hertogenbosch. This bridge is not just any bridge; it’s filled with plants and trees.
Now you have the chance to add a few hundred metres to your Den Bosch tour, or not. If you do want to take a few extra steps, then you walk to Boschveldweg 72. This industrial-looking building is an old factory from cigar manufacturers Eugène Goulmy & Baar from Den Bosch; it was used to process tobacco. It was built between 1897 and 1898; then the company was acquired by the Royal cigar factory Willem II from the town of Valkenswaard in 1927. During the most successful days, 400 employees worked here, and the factory lasted in Den Bosch until the 1950s. Nowadays a concert hall and ateliers are found here. In 2014, the building was completely restored and got it’s Goulmy & Baar text on the facade back.
If you do not want to add a little extra to your ‘s- Hertogenbosch tour, then you can head straight to Stationsplein 2. Even if you have added the additional location, you will head to Stationsplein 2 after that. Here you can find the most famous fountain in the municipality of ‘s-Hertogenbosch, called De Draak, or the dragon. The statue on the fountain is a dragon. Originally the fountain in Den Bosch was supposed to become a drinking fountain, but that never worked out.
This statue in Den Bosch has been here since 1903 and was part of a competition from the local municipality, but the one who won eventually didn’t design the final fountain. The dragon and small dragons are made by a company from Delft and the pedestal from a stonemasonry in Den Bosch.
In 1959, a traffic tunnel was constructed underneath the dragon fountain. This happened when the fountain was placed in front of the train station of Den Bosch. What is interesting is that you can still see the marks in the fountain. People aren’t sure why it’s a dragon. But there are some thoughts about that.
The city of ‘s-Hertogenbosch was located in a swampy region, and it was difficult to occupy as they could easily flood the surrounding regions to get rid of enemies. The city of Den Bosch was also nicknamed as ‘Moerasdraak’, or swamp dragon.
This fountain was last restored when the dragon fell from its pedestal due to corrosion at the beginning of the 2000s. When the dragon was returned to its location, they placed a little jar in the tail of the dragon. The pot has a drawing and photo of the dragon, as well as gold leaf, to make restoration easier.
Now walk to Stationsweg and then towards Van der Does de Willeboissingel 12. This monastery church was made for the capuchins. In 1611, capuchins first came to Den Bosch, but after the Siege of ‘s-Hertogenbosch they had to leave this city in Noord (North)- Brabant in 1629. At the end of the 19th century, they finally returned, and a new monastery was built, it was opened on the 28th of August 1898. Until 2005, the church was a parish church, after that it became a monastery church. In 2018, the last capuchins left the monastery and nowadays Franciscans are using the monastery.
Then walk towards Uilenburg, Postelstraat, Molenstraat, Lepelstraat, Visstraat and Brede Haven. After admiring the old harbour in Den Bosch, you will walk to Citadellaan 7. Here you will see a 17th-century powder-house, which was used as a storage location for ammunition. It was built between 1618 and 1620. Its outer walls are one metre thick, without any windows. Inside, there’s another thinner wall.
Now make your way to Sint Geertruikerkhof and then walk towards Smalle Haven. After that, we’re going to make our way to Orthenstraat 3. This building in ‘s-Hertogenbosch is known as ‘De Gulden Hopsack’, which I think refers to hop that is used to make beer. The current building dates back to 1619, but the basement dates back to centuries earlier. In 1619, the existing stone house replaced the former wooden building, with monetary help from the city council who wanted to prevent city fires. Since 1619, this building in Den Bosch has been used by beer breweries and wine sellers for centuries.
Now continue your tour through ‘s-Hertogenbosch to Hooge Steenweg. And then you’re going to walk to Karrenstraat 38. This building is called ‘De Twee Snoecken’, or the two pike, and was built somewhere in the 15th century. The current building originally was made of two buildings, but between 1600-1650 these two were combined and form one house. The facade dates from 1765.
After that we will walk to Eerste Korenstraatje, Kruisstraat, Tweede Korenstraatje, Pensmarkt, Snellestraat, Schapenmarkt and Markt 1. This building is the town hall of Den Bosch, and Jan Derkennis designed it, and he was also involved with creating the Sint-Janskathedraal. The city hall in ‘s-Hertogenbosch was built in the second half of the 14th century. The oldest clock was placed in 1372, and people assume that this meant that construction was finished. In 1463, a big part of the city hall in Den Bosch burned down, that reconstruction was completed in 1533.
After the Siege of Den Bosch by the Dutch Republic in 1629, the town hall in ‘s-Hertogenbosch got a new look. The look of the building changed in such a way to showcase the power of the Holland region in the Republic. After 1670, a lot of things were altered to this building. The Gothic style changed into the classic. In the small tower, you can find a chime, which was moulded in Zutphen in 1649.
Then you will walk to Ridderstraat and Fonteinstraat. After admiring these beautiful streets in Den Bosch, you will continue one of the best activities in ‘s-Hertogenbosch to Verwersstraat 7. This building was built shortly after 1463 when the city fire destroyed the previous building in Den Bosch in 1463. The building was used to paint sheets. In their backyard a clandestine church was built here in 1629, it was broken down in the 18th century.
Then we will continue our Den Bosch tour to Kolperstraat, and then we will make our way to one of the oldest stone houses in The Netherlands at Markt 79 in Den Bosch. This building is called ‘De Moriaan’ in the 13th century. Nowadays you can find the tourism office, or VVV, of Den Bosch here, as well as a cafe. It is said that this building was made on assignment by Henry I of Brabant for one of his friends in 1220. In 1956, the municipality of Den Bosch wanted to destroy the building to make more room for cars…
Luckily people protested and even went to the minister to tell that he should refuse the permission to tear down the house. And it worked, the house was renovated in 1963 and is an official monument. Can you imagine what happened in The Netherlands if people didn’t protest against plans like these? Then a lot of places wouldn’t be as beautiful as they are today.
Now walk to Markt 51. Here you will see a building that is called ‘De Leeuwenborgh’, which was first named as a stone house and in possession of the wealthy and noble family De Rover, Lord of Nemelaer, in 1422. In 1519, the house was described as ‘a stone house, land with several buildings and constructions, and a stone bridge and a gate above water’. From 1896, the building has been in use as a hotel in Den Bosch.
Then head to Brabantse Meester Monument ‘Jheronimus Bosch’. This is a bronze statue in the centre of ‘s-Hertogenbosch of painter Jeroen Bosch, who was from this city, and it is a statue of 210 centimetres. Sculptor August Falise made it, and it’s created by looking at a drawing of Recueil d’Arras, as people think that this is a self-portrait of the famous Dutch painter. It would be very awkward if it ends up not being him.
The initiator of the statue was, at the time, mayor of ‘s- Hertogenbosch: Frans Johan van Lanschot. He made a foundation to make sure the figure was able to be paid for. On the 17th of June 1930, the statue was revealed. It was first located in front of the city hall, but due to reconstructing the main square in Den Bosch, the statue had to be moved. Now it’s placed in front of the house where Bosch spend his younger years.
Now walk to Markt 29. This is the house where painter Jeroen Bosch spent a part of his younger years and is also named ‘De Kleine Winst’, or the little revenue. The name has been like this for 160 years, and there was a tobacco shop found in this building with the same name. The name of the building has changed a lot over the years. In 1462, it was named Sint- Antonis, in the 17th century ‘De Roosekrans’.
The house was bought by the father of Jeroen Bosch (original name Van Aken, but he changed it to Bosch) in 1462. It is said that Bosch learned painting from his dad, who was also a painter. When the city fire of 1463 was reconstructed, a report said that a painting studio was found here.
The building left of the De Kleine Winst collapsed on Saturday the 27th of February 2016. No one was hurt, but the building was completely destroyed. Luckily, De Kleine Winst wasn’t damaged, but there’s nothing that reminds you of the building next doors. It’s said that something went wrong during renovation works.
Then walk to Hinthamerstraat 4. This building is named ‘De Eenhoorn’, or the unicorn, and was first mentioned in the 14th century. During the city fire in ‘s-Hertogenbosch in 1419, the building was damaged but nothing that wasn’t able to be fixed. The building has had several names over the last centuries. At the beginning of the 17th century, it was known as ‘De Blinde Ezel’, or the blind donkey. Around 50 years later, as ‘Het Griffioen’, or the gryphon. It was also nicknamed ‘De Ezelin’, or the female donkey. ‘De Koningshoed’, the King’s hat. And ‘Het Landwijf’, the women owner of the land. Since around 1770, the building is named ‘De Eenhoorn’.
On the facade you will see a stone with a unicorn, the facade mostly dates back to 1789. Unicorns are usually connected to a pharmacy in The Netherlands, but a pharmacy was never found here. A bakery shop and cookies factory were started here in 1794. Baker J.A. Suys made and sold his famous Bossche koek, which is made with herbs, honey and rye flour. The shop had an incredibly well maintained 19th-century interior until 1969. The cookie store was closed, and the interior was removed, with permission from the municipality of Den Bosch.
Then walk to Gasthuisstraat and the Korte Waterstraat. At the curve in the Korte Waterstraat, you will have a beautiful view on the Binnendieze canal that flows through Den Bosch, as well a look on a watergate.
The building above the watergate that you can see is Burgemeester Loeffplein 75. It is also called the Moysus Boschhuis, and the building is partly built above a part of the Binnendieze river in Den Bosch in the 16th century. Now continue on your walking tour in Den Bosch to Nieuwstraat and then to Hinthamerstraat 57.
This house was built around 1580 and was one house with number 55 until 1613. It has been used for everything from a beer hall to a water house and more. At the beginning of 1900, the house was a gin house, and its facade was renovated in 1928. Until the 1950s this building was a bar. After that is became a candy shop and nowadays a restaurant is found here.
Hinthamerstraat 74 will be your next destination in Den Bosch. This building is named De Muzerij but was previously called Jeroen Boschhuis as it was a cultural centre. This building complex initially had five separate buildings, which were combined behind one facade in 1764. It has been used for many different purposes. This building has been everything from an episcopal palace to the palace of Justice to a cultural centre.
After that, our final stop on this free walking tour in ‘s-Hertogenbosch is In den Boerenmouw. And you’re done!
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I hope that you discovered and explored the Dutch city of ‘s-Hertogenbosch a bit more and that you will add this Den Bosch tour on your to do list. Travelling to one of the best destinations in Noord (North)- Brabant is always a good idea and I hope that these photos have also shown you what this city in Noord- Brabant, The Netherlands, has to offer. Share this post!!