The city of Groningen is the capital of the province of Groningen, the most northeastern province of the Netherlands. The city of Groningen is a typical university city: About a quarter of its (almost) 200.000 inhabitants are students at the University of Groningen, universities of applied sciences or academies of art. It is a relatively undiscovered and unspoiled part of the Netherlands that has kept most of its authenticity. Groningen is an attractive city with a level of facilities that can usually only be found in a major city. Institutions such as the University, the University Medical Centre, the headquarters of N.V. Nederlandse Gasunie and the Groninger Museum, make Groningen the regional center.
The center of Groningen has been preserved and its attraction lies in a contrast between old and new Groningen. Founded in the third century, it has the second oldest universities (1614) in the Netherlands. Its status as a major Dutch educational center has imbued Groningen with a vibrant arts scene, lively nightlife and a wealth of fascinating museums covering various topics from science to comics, and even tobacco.
Groningen's main attractions are its two beautifully designed central squares: the 15th century Martinikerk and the Renaissance Goudkantoor in the Grote Markt. Cars are banned from the picturesque historic center. Part of this area was destroyed during World War II; however, many of the medieval and 16th and 17th century structures survived.
Groningen city center: Goudkantoor © Maarten de Waard
It is easy to feel 'at home' in Groningen. The city center has no fewer than 200 bars, cafés and discotheques, and scores of open-air terraces on which to enjoy a balmy summer evening. There is something for everyone - from the traditional Dutch 'brown cafe' to the trendiest hi-tech dance club. And because Groningen is the 'youngest' city in the Netherlands (the average age is 36.4 years) these bars are not only lively at weekends, but on weekdays as well. Of course, the city center is not all bars and cafés. It is also a district in which people live, work, shop and soak up a lot of culture. It is rich in history and offers plenty for the visitor to see. To find out more about going out, food, shopping, museums, art, cultural heritage, architecture and festivals, please go to the tourist information section.
Groningen canals: Hoge/Lage der A © Maarten de Waard
In addition, from August 20 until August 30 Noorderzon Performing Arts Festival takes place. Noorderzon Festival is a combination of a cutting-edge international art festival and a large-scale summer fest for 135,000 visitors. The heart of the festival is the idyllic Noorderplantsoen (a city park) where, for eleven summer days, a freely accessible festival village appears almost out of nowhere to provide a setting for theatre, dance, music, literature and visual art in combination with eating, drinking and social encounters. For further information, please go to the Noorderzon website.