According to Biotionary, Kampen is an ancient city located on the lower reaches of the IJssel. This location and the proximity of the former Zuiderzee (the current IJsselmeer) has ensured that Kampen could grow into a powerful and important city during the late Middle Ages. Kampen is sometimes called the “Rotterdam of the Middle Ages”. It is actually a bit confusing nickname, because Rotterdam was a less important city than Kampen in the thirteenth century. It took a while before Kampen joined the Hanze. That only happened in 1441. This relatively late accession is mainly due to the fact that until that time Kampen had its own rules.
Nowadays it is good to see that Kampen was an important city from an early age. Many of the sights within Kampen can be traced back to the golden years of Kampen as a trading city. Think of the imposing city gates and the effort that people took to make Kampen a difficult fortress to take. The medieval street pattern still forms the blueprint for the center of Kampen. The city has since grown a size larger. A considerable part of Kampen lies outside the original fortress. The advantage of Kampen as a city trip destination is that most sights can be found within the former fortress. You don’t have to run a half marathon to see the main highlights of Kampen with your own eyes.
Top 10 sights of Kampen
#1. Skyline of Kampen
In our opinion, the view of Kampen is the most beautiful that this Hanseatic city has to offer. From the right bank of the IJssel you have a beautiful view of the historic city of Kampen. Because you immediately take the most important lifeline with you in your view of Kampen, the picture is simply complete. If you arrive in Kampen by train, you don’t have to do much to enjoy the panoramic view. From Kampen station you walk fifty meters to enjoy one of the most beautiful views of the province of Overijssel. Preferably choose the morning to enjoy the view here. Later in the day you may be facing the sun.
#2. Old Town Hall
Kampen’s old town hall is a fine example of late Gothic architecture. The facade of this fourteenth-century building is richly decorated, as was quite common in the more important cities at the time. after a fire in the mid-sixteenth century, a number of elements in the Renaissance style were added. The News town hall has been built directly against the old town hall. This classicist building is immediately recognizable by the cornice plastered in blocks. The New Town Hall was built between 1830 and 1835. In the meantime, the municipal tasks have been moved to a new town hall for the Municipality of Kampen, which is located on the Burgemeester Berghuisplein and has no value for tourists.
#3. The New Tower
Don’t be fooled by the name. De Nieuwe Toren is a lot older than the name would suggest. This central tower in Kampen was built between 1649 and 1663. It is a free-standing clock tower that can be seen as one of Kampen’s landmark buildings. Characteristic elements of this tower are the carillon designed by François Hemony and the relief above the entrance to the passage. The carillon originally contained 30 bells. Of the original bells, 29 remain. Later, additional bells were added to the carillon, achieving a range of four octaves.
The Cellebroederspoort is one of the three city gates of Kampen that you can still see in the 21st century. Because of the history and the beautiful appearance, all three gates actually belong in the top 10 sights of Kampen. We have chosen two: the Cellebroederspoort and the Koornmarktpoort. The third gate is the Broederpoort.
The Cellebroederspoort is located on the Tweede Ebbingestraat. The gate, built in 1465, was not between city walls, but between an earthen wall. The Cellebroederspoort has three floors. An important external feature is formed by the two towers, each with a large spire. Nowadays, the Cellebroederspoort serves as an event location.
#5. Municipal Museum
The Stedelijk Museum is located in the former town hall of Kampen. The museum works with four themes: water, religion, law and the House of Orange. The Aldermen’s Hall is considered the showpiece of the Municipal Museum of Kampen. This hall dates from the year 1545 and has never been changed since. The moment you enter this room, you feel like you have gone back in time centuries ago. Within the collection of the Stedelijk Museum, the painted portraits of all the Oranges are an absolute highlight.
#6. Icon Museum
Because of its unique character, the Icon Museuma must-visit if you are in Kampen. At least, as long as you don’t visit Kampen on a Monday, because then the doors of this special museum are closed. The Kamper Ikonenmuseum has the largest collection of icons in Western Europe. An icon is an image of Christ, the Mother of God, saints or solemnities. They are common in the Eastern Orthodox churches (eg Greek Orthodox) and the Russian Orthodox church. Icons can have different shapes. Frequent are the frescoes on walls or icons mounted on wooden panels. The Icon Museum manages the collection of more than 2000 icons of the Alexander Foundation.
#7. upper church
The Bovenkerk or Sint-Nicolaaskerk is a large Gothic basilica that has no less than 1250 seats. Due to its size and location, the Bovenkerk is one of the defining features of Kampen’s skyline. That effect was even stronger when this cruciform basilica was built. That was in the twelfth century. The church has no fewer than three organs, including the monumental Hinsz organ. Organ concerts are regularly held in the Sint-Nicolaaskerk.
The Koornmarktspoort is the oldest city gate in Kampen. It has been standing on the IJsselkade since the second half of the fourteenth century, close to the aforementioned Sint-Nicolaaskerk. A striking feature are the two large round towers that were added to the front at the end of the fourteenth century. In the year 1840, the appearance of the Koornmarktspoort was radically changed by applying a layer of white chalk. It sat on it until 1985. Then the white finishing layer was removed and the underlying masonry was expertly restored.
#9. Smallest house in Kampen
The Smallest House in Kampen is located at Burgwal 98. If you weren’t pointed out, you’d just walk right past it. It’s that small. The width is only 1.4 meters. That is narrower than an average contemporary double bed. The depth stops at about 4.5 meters. The house probably started as a warehouse and was later inhabited. Nowadays, the Smallest House in Kampen is no longer used, except as a museum that you can only view from the outside.
#10. Mill d’Olde Zwarver
An attraction that you should not miss in Kampen is the octagonal windmill d’Olde Zwarver. According to tradition, this mill has been standing along the IJssel since the year 1842. Due to expansion plans for a dairy factory, the mill was moved to another location in 1952. That was quite an expedition. This was carried out with the aid of a 48-wheel low-loader. This took place amid widespread public interest at home and abroad. This piece of cultural heritage can be visited on Saturday mornings. In the mill shop you can buy traditionally ground flour, among other things.