Delft is a popular tourist destination in the Netherlands, famous for its historical connections with the reigning House of Orange-Nassau, for its blue pottery, for being home to the painter Jan Vermeer, and for hosting Delft University of Technology (TU Delft). Historically, Delft played a highly influential role in the Dutch Golden Age.
Delft in a nutshell
A picturesque canal-ringed town, Delft is known first and foremost for its signature blue-and-white Delft Blue pottery. In addition to its namesake Delftware, the city was also the birthplace of Johannes Vermeer, a painter from the Dutch Golden Age who was best known for his work depicting women in everyday domestic scenes, most notably the mysterious Girl With The Pearl Earring.
The western city also plays an important role in the history of the Netherlands. Delft was home to the Dutch Prince, William of Orange. When he died in 1584, the official royal burial town of Breda was under Spanish control. Because of this, he was laid to rest in Delft – a tradition that continues today for the Dutch royal family. Johannes Vermeer also shares the place of his burial, the Nieuwe Kerk.
Trips to the Delft pottery museum and the Nieuwe Kerk are sure to please art and history lovers. While a stroll around the charming Old Town (see if you can spot a Delft tile!) is a delight for all.
Things to do in Delft
If you’re a collector (or admirer) of Delft pottery, it’s worth visiting the Royal Delft Experience, the last remaining Delft pottery factory from the 17th century. Also known by its Dutch name, Delfts Blauw refers to hand-painted blue and white porcelain and ceramic tiles. Here, you can discover the history and how-to of Royal Delftware, complete with a demonstration by Delft pottery painters.
History buffs will love Museum Prinsenhof, while art lovers shouldn’t miss Delft’s Vermeer Centrum. Here you can learn about not only the man himself, but about the art movement he inspired. Delft School is a style of painting from the Dutch Golden Age, and depicts images of domestic life, courtyards and the city’s streets. Along with Delft Blue, the Vermeer Centrum is a Delft highlight.
If you’ve only got a short time in the city, consider taking a canal cruise. This way, you’ll get to admire the city the way it was designed to be admired – from the water. Begin your cruise from the city’s Koornmarkt canal, where your boat will navigate through the historic network of canals. Take in the impressive Oude Kerk (Old Church) – also known as the Leaning Tower of Delft – which is also taller than its counterpart in Pisa, Italy. End your tour at the Nieuwe Kerk, and enjoy a stroll of the charming streets of the neighboring Old Town.
Located in the southwest of the Netherlands, the picturesque town of Delft is only an hour’s train ride from Amsterdam, the capital. Delft’s main station is located along the edge of the Old Town, making train travel a quick – and convenient – way to visit this charming city. So book your Holland Travel Ticket and spend a day in the home of Delft Blue.
Koninklijke Porceleyne Fles
This is the last remaining Delft Blue pottery factory from the 17th century.
Here you can see the art of hand-painting earthenware and watch techniques that have been handed down for hundreds of years.
For an insight into this fascinating world, the Royal Delft Experience is recommended.
During this interesting tour you will learn about the history of Delft pottery, the factory and the craft that is used to create the signature blue and white collections.
There is also a museum, a shop, and a delightful tile workshop where you can learn how to paint a Delft design on your very own 13×13 pottery tile!
This historical museum features a plethora of information and artefacts relating to the Dutch Golden age, together with information about William the Silent and Delft pottery.
Originally a palace for the prince, the Prinsenhof marks the location that he was actually assassinated in 1584 and the bullet holes are still visible.
Now serving as a museum, inside this fine establishment you can find a collection of paintings, including many works from Vermeer.
Furthermore, there is also a permeant exhibition displaying the impact that the citizens of Delft have had on the country, and a detailed look at the life and assassination of William of Orange.
For a slice of local history and an interesting insight into Dutch political figures, the Prinsenhof is a wonderful place to visit.
Delft City Hall
Another fine building located on the fantastic Market square, the City Hall stands out as a fine piece of architecture.
The front façade of this structure features beautiful stonework, a series of red shuttered windows, many trappings of gold and several impressive stone statues.
Its central tower has a large clock face and the symbol of Delft is proudly displayed above the main entrance.
Although you cannot enter the building as it is used for weddings and ceremonies, it is still a wonderful structure to admire and photograph.
When walking through the Market square, this building should be high up on your list of sights.
Part of the remaining city defences, the Oostpoort stands proudly as a reminder of the city former military glory during earlier centuries.
Constructed in the 1400’s, this gatehouse was once one of the main entrance points into Delft.
While currently serving as a private residence, you can still admire the fantastic architecture of this building with its two spiral towers and circular turrets.
Accessible by a bridge, the surrounding landscape is simply divine – Canals sit on either side of the gatehouse, and it stands out as a beautiful photographic opportunity.
As with many cities in the Netherlands, Delft has a network of canals that is a true pleasure to walk around.
In the old town centre you can find several inter-joining canals that are lined with beautiful trees and typical Dutch architecture.
Particular pleasant canals include the stretch on the Hippoltusbuurt street with its cafés and quaint bridges, and the stretch on Voldersgracht street where the water comes right up to the doorsteps of the houses! Simply take some time to enjoy walking the lengths of the canals and exploring the streets of Delft.