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Our Visit to Emmen, Netherlands

A Weekend with VT Friends

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Central square in Emmen

Central square in Emmen

During our stay in Poland, we managed to pay a visit to the Netherlands on the invitation of our VT friends Ali and Co in Emmen. Since the air traffic was no problem in early April, I decided to take the flight route: Tychy> KTW>WAW>AMS>WAW>KTW>Tychy. It took us thirteen hours to arrive to Emmen from Tychy.

Our hotel in Emmen

Our hotel in Emmen

Emmen is about two hour’s train ride from Schipol Airport in Amsterdam. We stayed in Emmen for three nights at Stads Hotel Boerland. Our room was on the ground floor. By the way, its number was 24, the same as my room in Kempten, Bavaria, in 2017 during our VT Meet. The thing is, my last VT rank was 24. Was it a coincidence?

325df490-eaf8-11ec-bfda-ff5e657991da.jpg0af9e120-eaf8-11ec-86f9-1bae0dcd7cfc.jpg0b6a5630-eaf8-11ec-bd4d-df69269ebd23.jpgCentral square in Emmen

Central square in Emmen


We were privileged to meet the owner of the hotel, who happened to live nearby. He came to open the door of the hotel since it was late at night, and we could not open the door ourselves. We turned out to be rare Ukrainian guests in his family hotel.


We had not known much about Emmen except that they had a zoo and a nice park there. We found out that the city was in the province of Drenthe in the northeastern Netherlands, not far from the German border. The city has several attractions, among them:

  • the Wildlands Adventure Zoo Emmen;
  • the central square with the old church and cafes;
  • the Rensenpark (including the Museum of Contemporary Tibetan Art);
  • the natural environment (including ancient monoliths on the city outskirts).

Viiting the Wildlands, Emmen

Viiting the Wildlands, Emmen

Wildlands, also known as Wildlands Adventure Zoo Emmen, is an ultra modern zoo in Emmen. It was dedicated in March 2016, replacing the Emmen Zoo. Wildlands is an adventure theme park with four main areas: Jungola, Serenga, Nortica and Animazia. The zoo had been in the city center for about eighty years, and it was time for it to turn a new leaf. At the new location, the park has 22 hectares of space. The animals were moved to their new homes, where they can live in their natural environment. There is a large covered jungle, a savanna and a polar area.

  • Jungola is a jungle-themed section that displays butterflies, tropical birds, large reptiles, ring-tailed lemurs, gibbons, small-clawed otters and Asian elephants. Jungola has a huge indoor tropical rain forest hall.


  • Rimbula, which its area of 18,000 square meters (190,000 sq. ft), is the largest zoo jungle hall in the world and the largest greenhouse in Europe.


  • Serenga is the African savanna section. It is home to species such as lion, zebras, giraffes, white rhinoceros and baboons.

Nortica is home to polar bear, sea lion, fur seal and Humboldt penguin.


  • Animazia is a large indoor playground, but also home to an aquarium with species such as corals, green sea turtles and tropical fish.


Contemporary Tibetan Arts Museum is established in the former zoo in the area called Rensenpark in Emmen. The local municipality and dozens of volunteers founded a creative hub here that included not only the museum, but various art galleries and other artistic and non-artistic places.The museum provides a lot of activities to promote contemporary Tibetan art.

870d5670-eaf8-11ec-bfda-ff5e657991da.jpg86d02660-eaf8-11ec-bfda-ff5e657991da.jpgceb85a60-eaf8-11ec-9d46-d52f91989a3d.jpgTibetan Arts Museum, Emmen

Tibetan Arts Museum, Emmen

Tibetan Arts Museum, Emmen

Tibetan Arts Museum, Emmen

Throughout the year, the museum accommodates several retreats, workshops, lectures, and performances which focus heavily on educating the public on the preservation of Tibetan art and culture. The museum officially opened its doors in June, 2017.


The museum hosts a collection of works featuring Tibetan and Tibet-inspired artists. Those works include many paintings created and donated by the founder of the museum, Tashi Norbu of Bhutan, whom they call Lama Tashi.

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One Picture Museum, Emmen


We also visited the One Picture Museum in the area of Rensenpark, where there is an arts workshop in the building of the former Savannehuis/Savannah House.
The Savannah House used to be the giraffe habitat at the zoo in Emmen, and the former zoo itself was developed into an arts and culture centre called Rensenpark. This is where a group of over forty painters have done an impressive job to recreate the “The Night Watch” painting of Rembrandt which is on display here. Those artists spent over 3,000 hours within two years to recreate the famous painting. The goal behind that epic project is to “promote amateur painters and better connect to the public.” Members of the public could visit the Savannah House while the painting was being recreated.
In the long run, Emmen got its very own version of Rembrandt van Rijn’s best known painting “The Night Watch”. The replica painting is four meters high and five meters wide and weighs 170 kilograms. Those volunteer artists are now working on their next project to recreate paintings of Van Gogh, who lived in this area for a short part of his life.

0b25ac10-eaf8-11ec-9d46-d52f91989a3d.jpg0aae5930-eaf8-11ec-bda4-adee8e781d1f.jpg0a92bae0-eaf8-11ec-b28b-31456ae805ec.jpgAtlas Theater, Emmen

Atlas Theater, Emmen

Ali and Co kindly showed us around their garden and house and took us for a walk around downtown Emmen. We decided to drop in at the central church, where a charity concert for Ukraine was taking place. Watching the concert, I suddenly desired to take the floor and to make my own small contribution to the success of the charity concert by greeting the people and reciting “My Testament” by Taras Shevchenko in Ukrainian and in English. As a result, I was filmed along with other participants of the concert. The video was published on the website of the volunteer group on FB.

Ali and Co took us outside Emmen to see the ancient monoliths. They are the country’s prehistoric landmarks that made Emmen and the entire Province of Drenthe is famous near and far. Those monoliths are called hunebedden, or dolmens. Scientists believe that the hunebedden were erected between 3350 and 3050 BC. They are shrouded in mystery, and their actual function is still unknown. They are considered to be prehistoric megalithic tombs, but not in the sense of the modern tombstones. There are 54 hunebedden remaining in the Netherlands and 52 of them are located in Drenthe.

Hunebedden_megalitic tombs

Hunebedden_megalitic tombs

85b0d3b0-eaf8-11ec-86f9-1bae0dcd7cfc.jpg85c5e250-eaf8-11ec-bd4d-df69269ebd23.jpg84ac34f0-eaf8-11ec-a84a-7314228cd68a.jpgHunebedden_megalitic tombs

Hunebedden_megalitic tombs

We found out more by reading the information boards near those monoliths. Hunebedden (megalithic tombs) are the oldest monuments in the Netherlands. They were built more than 5000 years ago by people of the Funnel Beaker Culture - the first farmers in northern Europe. The information board explains further that those ancient people buried their dead in the hunebed area. Since hunebed is a burial monument, please treat it with respect, the information board calls us. Handle with care!
With its length of 18.5 metres, this hunebed is one of the largest in Drenthe. The builders chose a conspicuous spot, on top of a sandy hillock. They also worked according to a design based on the largest capstone. They placed that stone in the middle, and from there they made the burial chamber taper towards the ends. There’s a story about this large capstone: King Louis Napoleon allegedly climbed on top of it on his horse, to show off his skills as a horseman. In the days of King Louis Napoleon’s reign (1806-1810), people did not realize how vulnerable the hunebedden were. You were not allowed to destroy them deliberately, but nobody bothered about anyone climbing them. As a result of this indifference, people caused damage. Their climbing was definitely bad for the rare lichen growing on the stones.
We also visited another megalithic stones place at Sleenerzand.






Our hosts also took us to a medieval restaurant located in an old farm. The full name of the restaurant is Oud Saksische Koffie- & Pannenkoekboerderij 't Hoes van Hol-An. We had a nice dinner with traditional Dutch pancakes.

0c491d70-eaf8-11ec-bfda-ff5e657991da.jpg0c2d7f20-eaf8-11ec-a84a-7314228cd68a.jpg0c73fe00-eaf8-11ec-a84a-7314228cd68a.jpgDining at Oud-Aalden medieval restaurant

Dining at Oud-Aalden medieval restaurant


On Sunday we attended a popular festival downtown and saw how people rejoiced and had fun. We had our farewell dinner at the favorite pub of Ali & Co. The atmosphere, the meals and the beer were great! We are grateful to our friends Ali & Co for their hospitality!


Posted by Vic_IV 13:24 Archived in Netherlands Tagged castle park; menagerie; netherlands; emmen; drenthe;

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Nice to read your page about the familiar places in my hometowm and area. Thank you for visiting us. Great memories.

by sachara

You are welcome, Ali! Thank YOU!

by Vic_IV

I've only ever been to The Netherlands once and that was in 1986. I really must go back there one day. Looks well worth visiting.

by irenevt

I am sure there are many more nice places to visit and to discover in the Netherlands, Irene.

by Vic_IV

I didn't know you had a ranking system in VT, what was the criteria?

Emmen looks gorgeous, I like the look of those stone circles!

by hennaonthetrek

There was a ranking system on VT depending on your activity (number of blog and comments to your entries).

by Vic_IV

I visited the hunebedden myself and liked it very much. you guys saw alot in a day!

by Ils1976

Yes, Ali & Co were so kind as to take us to many nice places...

by Vic_IV

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