The Dutch Golden Age
The Dutch Golden Age (17th century) was a period of great wealth for the Dutch Republic. With the East India Company (VOC), trade blossomed. Cities who were members of the VOC were among the richest in Holland, and the rich history of these cities is still visible in their many mansions, canals, churches, city walls and harbours. Art and science blossomed as well, which can be seen in the paintings of the famous Dutch Masters: Rembrandt, Hals, Vermeer and Steen.
The 17th century, also known as the Dutch Golden Age, laid the foundation for the Netherlands as we know it today. However, not everything shone brightly then and there are increasing demands to highlight the dark side as well. Various museums showcase the glorious history of the Netherlands but also pay attention to this dark side, leaving room for themes such as slavery and colonialism. The history of the Dutch Golden Age can be found all over cities along the route, from Middelburg in the south to Hoorn and Enkhuizen in the north of the Netherlands.
Middelburg in the Dutch Golden Age
Travel back to the Dutch Golden Age in Middelburg and explore its rich trading history.
Dordrecht: cradle of the Golden Age
Take a stroll through Golden Age Dordrecht and discover a city which shaped Dutch history.
Vermeer’s Delft in the Golden Age
Discover Delft, home of Vermeer and William of Orange, of Delft Blue pottery, and Golden Age art.
Golden Age The Hague: art & power
Meet the ‘Girl with a Pearl Earring’ and see the palaces on a tour of Golden Age The Hague.
Discover Golden Age Leiden, an era of trade, science, tolerance and world-changing art.
Frans Hals’ Golden Age Haarlem
Step back into the Golden Age and discover the art and people that shaped Haarlem 400 years ago.
Amsterdam: capital of the Golden Age
Explore the Golden Age in Amsterdam, when world trade, incredible wealth and famous art converged.
Hoorn & Enkhuizen in the Golden Age
Return to 17th-century Hoorn and Enkhuizen. Relive this prosperous era in Holland’s history.
The Golden Age Trail
Trace the Golden Age Trail on a journey through the destinations that shaped Holland – and the world – throughout the 17th century. The country’s newfound wealth, coupled with open-minded attitudes towards religious and intellectual freedom, made Holland a haven for European immigrants, refugees from Flanders, and those escaping persecution in Spain and Portugal. This population boom strengthened Holland’s position as a global leader and contributed to some of the greatest achievements in art and academia. As merchants sailed to other – for them – unknown continents, the Dutch East India Company – the world’s first multinational company – was established, and the six Dutch ports that were home to its chambers thrived throughout this era.
Explore Golden Age history throughout Holland
Discover Dordrecht, a city that was already booming before the Dutch Golden Age, and which played an essential role in the formation of the Dutch Republic. Meet Frans Hals in Haarlem, along with the other immigrant artists who changed the course of art history. Take a trip back to Golden Age Leiden, where the city’s appetite for innovation influenced Rembrandt van Rijn’s early career. Rembrandt and other Dutch Masters from the Golden Age have continued to hold a prominent place in art history through the centuries.
Discover Holland’s prosperous history
Find out why Rembrandt and his contemporaries in Amsterdam owe much of their success to the wealthy merchants who had the means to fill their homes with art and commission prominent works, and relive the Golden Age today via Amsterdam’s top museums. The wealth from trade spread through to Middelburg, which was an important base for the Dutch East India Company and became known for the ornate Golden Age architecture that remains today. Learn why Hoorn and Enkhuizen also flourished during the era, transforming from fishing villages to thriving centers of trade, where earning a living was easier and outsiders were welcomed. The goods that returned from Asia and Africa captivated the European market, such as the iconic blue and white pottery that was then famously reproduced in Golden Age Delft. These developments were spurred on by forward-thinking authorities that implemented policies in The Hague, the new center of power in Golden Age Holland. Stroll along its wide boulevards and experience masterpieces like Vermeer’s ‘Girl With a Pearl Earring’ in its museums.
Many museums will enrich any interested visitor with a rare understanding of Holland and its illustrious history, which however also had its darker sides. The history of the Dutch Golden Age is still very much alive and can be experienced in the cities along the route from Middelburg in the south to Hoorn & Enkhuizen in the north of Holland.