What to do in Bourtange (-you know, that star shaped village!)

What is the most famous village in The Netherlands? Don’t know? It’s Bourtange! Well, famous from above, that is! I’m sure you have seen the outlines of the little village before, as it is built in the shape of a star.

This too, just like magical Giethoorn and the impressive Afsluitdijk, was part of my Bucket List of Glory (TM) of things I want to do before I get on that plane and leave The Netherlands for good.


Ha! Yes, that IS me wondering my way through the star shaped village of Bourtange!


It’s funny how you start to see and value things in a different light when you know you you will leave soon. For example, we are leaving our apartment in just two weeks time (!!!) and we absolute LOVE our place. It is super “gezellig“, with its cozy wall, our incredible 100+ year old table and the awesome rug. A little sad then, to leave behind, but we will make our next place just as great!

Anyway, with Laia’s mom still around we thought going to the star shaped village of Giethoorn would be a great little trip, so we took the car and made our way to south east Groningen.

It’s a good 45 minutes driving to Bourtange, and right before we parked the car we got stuck in a group of oldtimers whose endpoint was the centre of the village. Walking towards the village from the outside gives you an idea of what a great fortress it must have been all those years ago.


Laia has a strange obsession with flowers, and poppies even more so. Poppies = foto with happy Laia. 


That’s a great front door to have. 10/10 would recommend.


Pano time! Here you see a bit of the pointy shape of the village, with the tower of the little church on your left.


The Spanish delegation in front of one of the many red guard houses.

About the village

To give you a little history; the village was used as a fortress many many moons ago, and after it had been built in 1593 it has only been overrun once. Originally it was used in the 80 year war the Dutch fought with the Spanish. William of Orange the first had it built to control the only road between Germany and the city of Groningen which was controlled by the Spanish. These days though, it is a kind of open air museum where people still live. The village only has a little over 250 inhabitants and it is very tiny.

Walking around the village you get an idea of what life might have been like all those years ago. It is such a peaceful village (apart from the oldtimers and tourists) and the people that live there nowadays take such great care of their houses and gardens that it is a treat to walk around.


  Love this picture. Take from one of the guard towers, you get a great look of who’s coming to the village. Don’t like it? Get your cannons out!


More pano’s! Right the village, centre the big defence wall & to the left the moat with a bridge over it.


Mom, if you’re reading this, please look away.


One of the (recreated) toilets in the village. Must have been not so much fun to go there in wintertime..


More flowers.


Built as a fortress, the village has high defence walls all around with a big moat around those walls, making it a very difficult hurdle to tackle for any possible attackers. The fact that it is shaped as a star is easy to miss when you walk around it, you can only see that from up high or on the maps.

Scattered over the big defence walls we passed along many of the canons that were once used to blow up the Spanish attackers, and at the end of the day there was a small re-enactment from a couple of blokes from the village where they did a little shooting. Great fun.

As the village is relatively tiny it won’t take you all day to see it all, and so after 2 hours or so we headed home via a bit of Germany, as R. had never been there. TICK! Off the list!


“Mom, I have a great idea. Go sit on that cannon so we can take a picture.” ……

In Germany, all shops were closed and on top of that some rain decided to show up and annoy us, and so R.’s tour of Germany consisted of not much more than me shouting “AUSFAHRT!” which, let’s admit, is pretty cool in itself.

Alright, that’s all for now, stick around for later in the week when I post ANOTHER entry about the beautiful city of Utrecht.

Stay adventurous,


READ NEXT: The best of Rotterdam in 48 hours
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Writer. Traveller. Bearded man child. Better-looking than Donald Trump. Skinnier than Steven Seagal. Probably the best writer on this website.
This is Travel Viking
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This is Travel Viking

Writer. Traveller. Bearded man child. Better-looking than Donald Trump. Skinnier than Steven Seagal. Probably the best writer on this website.

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