The white town of Thorn

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The white town of Thorn

Did you know that in the past, this little place in Limburg was one of the world’s smallest principalities? Today it is a town but it still has its centuries-old buildings and, of course, its little white houses.

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The little town of Thorn is located in the south of Holland in the province of Limburg. It used to be a tiny principality; today it is a must-visit when you come to Holland. Thorn is known for its old white houses and monumental buildings. And so the town draws countless visitors every year.

  • Discover the story behind the white houses.
  • Visit the museums, such as the Gemeentemuseum and Abdijkerk Thorn.

White houses for the poor

Thorn came into being when the monastery for noblewomen was established here in around 990. It developed into a small principality. It was granted town privileges only three centuries later, after which a partial town wall was built. Many of the women’s old residences still exist and can be visited today.

When, towards the end of the 18th century, the noblewomen fled Thorn to evade the French, a great number of poor people came to live in the town. The French calculated taxes based on the dimensions of the windows of houses. Because the poor couldn’t pay the taxes, they made their windows smaller by bricking them up. The houses were then painted white to hide the difference between the old and new bricks.

Attractions in Thorn

If you are visiting Thorn, you must see the Abdijkerk Thorn (monastery church). It is how the little town originally came into being. The imposing church was built in several stages through the centuries. The oldest part was built in the 10th century. The interior dates from the 18th century. The monastery church was renovated towards the end of the 19th century by Pierre Cuypers, the architect of Amsterdam Central Station and the Rijksmuseum. 

You can also visit the Gemeentemuseum Land van Thorn. Here, you will find excavations and a range of historic objects from the town’s long history. You can also go on a guided walk with an audio system. The tour takes you to the canons’ residences and the Begijnhof (Beguinage).  

Other places near Thorn

The historic city of Roermond, where people usually go for shopping, is near Thorn. Don’t forget to check out the beautiful monumental buildings and remarkable church tower, which has suffered much through the centuries.

There is lots of beautiful nature near Thorn as well. North of the town, you can visit National Park de Groote Peel, one of the regions in Holland populated by countless birds. 

Spending the night in Thorn

There is no better way to experience Thorn than by spending the night in one of the authentic white houses. This is possible! For instance in an apartment in the Miller’s House. It feels like setting foot in the past. The town also boasts a number of lovely hotels. Please note that  Thorn is a popular destination. Book your accommodation in time if you want to experience the city.

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