Vesting Bourtange

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Bourtange is the most beautiful example of a Dutch fortress. The ramparts and moats are made in a pentagon, which is supposed to make defending easier and attacking harder. At least in times when wars were two-dimensional, between 1577 and 1821 (which is the time Bourtange was actually used as a fortress), this concept worked.

Bourtange was one fortress in a line of fortresses: Oudeschans (schans meaning fortress), Boonerschans, Nieuweschans, defending Groningen against the Dutch (in Spanish times) and the Germans.



To please the tourists, the bartender and some other people in the village are dressed in ‘historic’ clothes. Sometimes there's also live-music, but this is, very like the bicycle, out of style (and out of tune) and not belonging in the right century.

The houses in the middle were for the officers, in the buildings around it lived the soldiers. Besides the militaries where probably a lot of civilians in the village, baking bread, butchering pigs, cooking, shoeing horses and doing other useful tasks. If you look at the names of the streets, you get an idea where these people lived.

This is where the officers lived


Keep your place clean: toilets are outside of the village itself, above the moat. Especially when under attack it must have been a relieve to empty your bladder.

In modern times these toilets are sometimes used by 'bloody' tourists like our friend Arnoud who is friendly enough to demonstrate the way NOT to take a leak here (at least: close the door).

It is obvious who the enemy is now: the cannon is directed inwards, to the hundreds of tourists that come every day to have a look at Bourtange.

So now you're warned: don't use the toilet above the moat and try to find the ones in the village. Arnoud has barely survived because they missed him by an inch.


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