One of the best things to do when you want to discover the Hanseatic league in The Netherlands is to visit Deventer. And what’s a better way to explore a new city than with a free and self-guided walking tour in Deventer? During this tour in Deventer, you will explore why Hansa cities are so great to visit, see landmarks in Deventer and plenty of more must-sees in Deventer that you have to discover when you visit one day.
Deventer is one of the most beautiful Hanseatic towns in The Netherlands and has a lot to offer. In this travel and city blog about Deventer, you will find the best things to do and see in 24 hours. And you will discover exactly why you have to visit the province of Overijssel, The Netherlands. Find the best things to do in one day in Deventer with this free walking tour. And I can guarantee that you will fall in love with the city within no time.
This Deventer walking tour will take you through the best parts of this Hanseatic city, will show you some of the best activities to do in Deventer, as well as must-visit sites.
Your perfect free walking tour in Deventer: Top things to do in one day
Walkthrough one of the Hanseatic league best cities. With the help of this city blog of Deventer, you will find the secrets of Deventer. Find the things to see in 24 hours in Deventer with the best Deventer tour you could think of. And the best part: It’s one of the free things you can do in Deventer as well. Something with two birds and a stone.
So if you were still wondering what to do or see in one day in Deventer, then this walking tour in Deventer will show you everything you must do and see in this beautiful Dutch city in the province of Overijssel. Enjoy!
P.S. There are extensions for this free walking tour in Deventer at the end of this article. This current tour in Deventer is around 7 kilometers.
P.P.S. A map with all the points and route through Deventer can also be found at the end of this article.
We start and finish one of our free things to do in Deventer at the Waag. The Waag is a weighing building on the most famous square in Deventer: Brink. It’s the oldest weighing building in The Netherlands and dates back to 1528. This monument in Deventer was used as a weighing house until 1862. After that, it became a school. One interesting thing to know is that there used to be a copper cauldron connected to the Waag until 2017.
This copper cauldron was used to boil counterfeiters alive in oil and dates back to 1434. It wasn’t possible to leave the vat outside anymore, so it was relocated to the front porch of the weighing house in Deventer where you can have a look at it for free. You will also see bullet holes in the cauldron, which have been made by soldiers from Napoleon in 1813. As of now, there is a fascinating museum in the Waag about the history of Deventer called Museum De Waag, which I recommend you to visit after you are done with your tour.
Now continue and make your way to a building that is called ‘De Drie Haringen‘ in Dutch, or the three herrings.
This building is a monument and can be found behind the Waag. It was bought by Herbert Dapper who was a rich man due to the herring fishery in 1567. In 1575 he assigned the job to renovate the building in a mix of German and Flemish styles, which you can still see at the facades. The Gilde Dapper was a member of had three crowned herrings as the coat of arms. This coat of arms can be found on the facade of this building in Deventer, which also explains the name.
Walk to the Boterstraat, Assenstraat, Polstraat and end up at Welle, which is the waterfront of Deventer with the river the Ijssel.
Continue your free walking tour in Deventer via Waterstraat, Onder De Linden, Achter De Muren Vispoort to end up at Achter De Muren Vispoort 16. The building used to be an old warehouse and dates back to the 18th century.
Walk from the Kranensteeg to Het Klooster. This street is filled with old houses that were once a monastery in Deventer, and a monastery isn’t anything without a monastery garden or Kloostertuin. You can visit this garden in Deventer daily from 08:00-18:00.
Now we will visit Papenstraat, Graven, Nieuwe Markt and the Mariakerk, which is an old church that isn’t a church anymore. This church was part of Maria and Lebuinusbasilica. And while the Sint Lebuinus church was collegiate, the Maria church was specially built as a Parish church for the bourgeoisie and dates back to the 13th century. At the beginning of the 16th century, the churches were separated. On the side of the Grote Kerkhof of the Maria church, Maagdenhuisjes were built. These were houses for single women, which are still attached to the church. Also, have a good look at the previous entrance of the church when you’re there. You can see the remains on the photo below.
After admiring the Maagdenhuisjes continue to Grote Kerkhof 5. This building used to be a Latijnse School, or Latin school. Before the 19th century, the Latin schools were a widespread type of schools throughout Europe. Boys from the middle and upper class were prepared for either their religious post or for a university degree. Every lesson on the university was given in Latin. Thus knowledge of the language was essential. In Deventer, there was a Latin school from 1150 until 1848. The building at Grote Kerkhof was a Latin school from 1485 until 1839.
Continue to Grote Kerkhof and the Stadhuis, or city hall, of Deventer. On the right side of the current town hall of Deventer, you will see the previous city hall of this Hansa city that dates back to the 17th century. If you have a look at the new city hall of Deventer, you will notice interesting patterns on the facade that look like fingerprints. Which they are. The outside of the newly built city hall in Deventer is created with 2264 fingerprints of inhabitants of Deventer.
Make your way to Grote Poot, Korte Assenstraat and Kleine Poot. Then we will walk to the Grote Kerk, or Lebuinuskerk. This gothic hall church in Deventer was the main church of Deventer and one of the most important churches of the diocese of Utrecht during the Middle Ages. It was built between 1450 and 1525 and was widely decorated with paintings, statues and altars. This was roughly disrupted by the Calvinists who took over the church and named it the Grote Kerk in 1580. The interior was destroyed and disappeared under a layer of white. Some paintings were recovered during a restoration in 1927.
The church was also the cathedral of the Roman Catholic diocese of Deventer that shortly existed between 1559 and 1591. The church owns the Protestant church, but the municipality of Deventer owns the tower. Another church in Deventer is officially named the R.K. Sint-Lebuinuskerk but referred to as Broederenkerk. This is not the same church as the Grote Kerk/ Lebuinuskerk.
You can visit this church in Deventer and can climb its tower for a beautiful view of Deventer and its surroundings. The church is 38,65 meters wide, the tower is 62,5 meters high, the length of the church is 99,1 meters, and the height of the ship is around 18 meters. Find more information about visiting the Lebuinus church and climbing its tower here. Keep in mind that you won’t be able to climb the tower in November – March and never on a Sunday. Every Saturday April- October you can climb this tower in Deventer, as well as on working days during the Dutch school holidays.
Make your way to Sandrasteeg, Stromarkt and Stromarkt 8. This building is either called familiehuis (familyhome) Dumbar or Avicenna Huis. This was a patricians family home; a part of the Scottish family Dumbar resided in Deventer and developed themselves into a regentsfamily during the 17th century. The house itself dates back to around 1670.
Now we will continue our walk to the oldest stone house in The Netherlands: Proosdij. This house dates partly back to 1130. If you have a look at the second floor of the facade, you will see the remains of three roman windows. This house in Deventer was the residency of the provost of the chapter of the Lebuinuskerk. On the main floor, there was a chapel which was dedicated to Bonifatius. After the Calvinists conquered Deventer from the Catholic Spaniards, the provostery was removed from the catholic church in 1591. After that time the house got different destinations but has been a house ever since 1677.
Now walk to Lange Bisschopstraat, Engestraat, before stopping at Bagijnenstraat 9. This used to be an old orphanage but is currently a concert venue in Deventer. The building was built in a neoclassical style on the location of a former monastery courtyard in 1859. The orphanage itself already dated back to 1560 and moved to the site at Bagijnenstraat 9 around 1815. The last orphans left the building in 1930, and it has been a concert venue since 1994.
Up next we have the Stappenconvent. This is a former guest house and named after Henricus Stappe, who made his home available to the poor and in need after he died in the 14th century. The current building only dates back to the middle of the 19th century, but the guest house Stappenconvent to around 1342.
We will continue our Deventer tour to the Smedenstraat, Achter de Broederen and the Broederenkerk. This church is officially called the roman- Catholic Sint-Lebuinuskerk but nicknamed the Broederenkerk. It was built between 1335 and 1338 on the assignment of Eleonora of England. She was the duchess of Gelre at the time. Before this church was built, there was already a monastery founded by the Franciscans around 1300. The nickname reminds everyone of the history this place keeps as the Franciscans left the monastery and church indefinitely by 1579. From 1579 until 1799 the church was in use by the protestants. After 1579 the church was in the hands of the Calvinists but was given to the Catholics in Deventer from 1587.
In 1591, Deventer was conquered by Prince Maurits under which the protestants remained in power of the church. During the French occupation of The Netherlands, the church was used as military storage for English troops and later turned into French barracks. During the Batavian Republic, the church buildings in Deventer were divided between the different faiths, which made the Broederenkerk part of the Catholic community of Deventer for the first time in two centuries again in 1799. As of today, the roof is only medieval as the church was entirely reconstructed in the early neo-Gothic style by the end of the 19th century.
Now we will continue to the Keizerstraat, Walstraat and discover an old piece of the city wall of Deventer. Remains of the old city wall can be found throughout the outskirts of the old town in Deventer. The city of Deventer had its first stone city wall in around 1200. The wall doubled in size and strength in the 1360s. And when the city gates in Deventer were closed, you could enter nor leave the city. Deventer has several city walls for extra protection. The outer layer of the city wall and the inside layer. If an enemy got past the first wall, it often was received by a dog who was pretty fond of biting bad guys. Most of the city walls in Deventer were demolished by the end of the 19th century. Mainly for the reason that people wanted to leave and enter the city faster.
The next stop we will make is the Bergkerk or Sint-Nicolaaskerk. It’s located in my favourite area and neighbourhood of Deventer; Bergkwartier. It is originally a Roman basilica and situated on an old river dune. It was built between 1198-1209 near, what was the Deventer harbour area at the time. Norbertines from the Westphalian Varlar founded the church. The church was dedicated to Sint-Nicholas, who was the patron saint of the sailors. You will also see many similarities with churches in the Baltic States.
In the 15th century, the Bergkerk was the subject of several constructions, which gave the church it’s Late Gothic character. The two spires date back to the 15th century, but the bottom part of the towers is still original. In 1580, the church became a protestant church and was part of the Dutch reformed church. What happened was that the interior vanished behind a layer of white. Luckily, during a much-needed restoration, old paintings were recovered that date back to the early 13th century. As of today, the Bergkerk is used for exhibitions, concerts and conferences.
Fun fact about this church in Deventer: There’s a legend about building the Bergkerk. It is said that two sisters from Deventer, Martha and Beatrix, were deeply impressed by a knight who came to Deventer. They both were fighting over the man, and Beatrix eventually married the knight, leaving Martha behind. Martha assigned the construction of the towers, with one taller than the other as both sisters were a different height. This explains the small difference between both of the towers. Whether it’s true or not, it’s an interesting thing to think about.
Walkthrough the Roggestraat, before stopping at Golstraat 23.
Here you can find the old synagogue of Deventer. It was used from 1892-1941, 1947-1952 and 2010-2018 as a synagogue. This building was filled with beautiful Jewish elements in its interior, which were mostly destroyed during the German occupation. After the liberation of Deventer, it became known that most of the Jewish community of Deventer was murdered in German concentration camps. The Jewish who did survive the war restored the synagogue.
Up next is the famous fountain in Deventer; Wilhelminafontein. The fountain was revealed for the inauguration of Queen Wilhelmina. However, the fountain was already in their minds when the first Deventer water pipeline was finished in 1893. Lack of funding slowed down the project, and a few years later, the occasion to reveal a new fountain was perfect. It was the inauguration of Queen Wilhelmina. Funnily enough, only the inscription on the pedestal refers to Queen Wilhelmina. On the foundation, you will see the patroness of Deventer with bay laurel and a shield with the coat of arms of Deventer.
The fountain was demolished for car traffic to ride over the Brink square in 1960. But, as things changed in The Netherlands, especially the thought of car traffic in city centres, the Brink was made car-free again, and the fountain revived in 1985.
The Penninckhuis is a previous home and current church that is located on the Brink square and built in 1583. Herman Penninck lived in this house, but after the house changed owners, it became a hidden church in 1686. In the 19th century, it became a home yet again but eventually decayed. The baptists church bought the building, restored it and started to operate a church in 1891. It is currently still a church for both the baptists as well as the remonstrants. The local VVV, or tourism office in Deventer, is housed in the entrance porch and hall of the church.
As of next we will go to Spijkerboorsteeg, Overstraat, Kleine Overstraat, Brink and Bergstraat. Continuing our journey through Deventer at Bergkerkplein 7, you will find an old gate of a courtyard that has disappeared in Deventer. It’s the old gate of Meyershof, and you will see ‘Anno 1661 Meyershoff’ in Frisian on the entry.
Then we make our way to Bergkerkplein, Kerksteeg and Menstraat 20. Here you will see a house that is very special for a simple reason, it wasn’t made in Deventer. The name of the house is Huis Zevenaar, and it is indeed built in Zevenaar and eventually brought to Deventer.
Deventer has suffered immensely during the Second World War. Most of the Bergkwartier, which is the most beautiful part of Deventer (in my opinion), was bombed. There were empty holes in streets and that was also what happend on Menstraat 20. This house was standing in Zevenaar, but had to be removed to built a supermarket (pure madness in my opinion, but money ay…). The mayor of Deventer at the time, Nico Bolkestein, was dining with his collegue, the mayor of Zevenaar. During diner the idea was to put the old house of Zevenaar in the gaping hole of the Menstraat in Deventer. The only question was whether it would fit or not.
So everything had to be measured, the house was broken down carefully, was even temporary stored and was eventually rebuilt in 1969. The only difference is that the house has been mirrored.
Continue your free walking tour to Bergschild and Bokkingshang. This used to be located in the harbour of Deventer and is named after the herring fishery. Bokking is a kind of herring that has been smoked in a certain way. As of today you can find prostitutes behind a few windows on this street.
Remember: Don’t even take photos of the women in the windows, that is extremely rude.
Walk to Achter de Muren- Zandpoort. Then we will continue to the Muntentoren, or coins tower. This tower is famous for being the location where the final coins of Deventer were made between 1685 and 1708.
Off to the next location! Here you will find the only remaining courtyard in Deventer: Jordenshof. The yard was founded by Joachim Keyzer and relocated to its current location in 1856. Between 1930 and 1931 the courtyard was renovated. You can see one of the old facades of the previous site in a bench in the courtyard that is from 1644.
After visiting the only courtyard in Deventer, we will walk through our final streets. Go to Rijkmanstraat and Muntengang. After that, we will make our way to our last stop of the free walking tour in Deventer: De Waag. Congratulations! You have completed a significant part of your Deventer itinerary and have seen all the hidden gems in Deventer.
This self-guided and free walking tour of Deventer is around 7 kilometres, you could add the Wilhelminabrug, the city beach and/or the windmill of Deventer after the Bokkingshang (one of the final streets on your tour through Deventer) to create a longer walking route through Deventer.
Another thing you could do is to add the bridge to bridge route to your free walking tour in Deventer. You will walk your way from the Wilheminabrug to Spoorbrug Deventer, and along the way, you will be able to see the beautiful skyline of Deventer, as well as discover a small part of a nature reserve to explore the countryside of Deventer. This adds around 3 kilometres to your Deventer tour.
If you add these extra stops to your walk in Deventer, I would recommend you to read the following information.
The windmill in Deventer is a sawing windmill and was built in 1863. When you visit this mill will see a saw barn and a towing ramp for pulling the logs out of the water. The scaffold sits at the height of 5.60 m. At the beginning of the 21st century, the mill had undergone a half year restoration. And since spring 2007 the mill works again. Volunteers will happily tell you everything about the windmill and how it works. Usually, the windmill is opened every Thursday and Saturday from 10:00- 16:00. There is no admission fee, but donations are more than appreciated when you visit.
The Wilhelminabrug (bridge) in Deventer might seem a little familiar to you as it was the famous bridge in ‘A Bridge Too Far’, which is a Second World War movie. So if you’re looking for the best film and movie locations in The Netherlands, then you cannot skip this bridge. All the scenes on the bridge in the movie were shot in Deventer.
If you want to add the Harbour area, or Havenkwartier, in Deventer to your walking tour of Deventer (which I recommend you do), then you could also add this part of the route after Bokkingshang and discover more of the free things to do in Deventer, The Netherlands.
Find the full map of the self-guided and free walking tour in Deventer here
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I hope that this article has widened your perspective of the Hansa League and Hanseatic towns in The Netherlands. Travel to Deventer with the help of this small city guide and explore the things you have to see in one day in Deventer. When you arrive in Deventer, you will quickly understand why spending a weekend, or week, in the province of Overijssel is an excellent idea. Enjoy this free walking tour in Deventer and share this post!