17th Century country estates of Amsterdam merchants alongside the river Vecht

17th Century country estates of Amsterdam merchants alongside the river Vecht

In the Gooi en Vechtstreek area between Amsterdam and Utrecht a number of picturesque villages are surrounded by small lakes and woods. One of these villages is Loenen, a charming little place on the river Vecht, a place best explored on foot. In the 17th century Amsterdam patricians built stately homes here, sometimes graced with gazebos.

The Gooi and Vecht Region (Gooi en Vechtstreek) of North-Holland in the West of the Netherlands was once called the Garden of Amsterdam. Its main city, Hilversum - could make a good home. It still is mostly popular for hiking and cycling through the forests and the heath in the area. Cycle or hike through the forests and heath in the area. Enjoy the water sports activities in Loosdrecht or play golf in either Hilversum or Laren. Besides the possibilities of bird watching, nature walks and cycle tours just around the corner, the area is also littered with golf courses. The many lakes nearby lend themselves perfectly for fishing, sailing and swimming. There are cinemas, theatres and plenty of worthwhile restaurants and café's, such as Bosschoord in the middle of the woods south-east of Hilversum. The Vecht river floats from Utrecht to the IJsselmeer Lake, the former South Sea. On its way, it encounter several lovely villages and many castles and stately homes. In this site, you will be able to see a selection of these houses.

Some of the woods and heath have survived into the present today, e.g. Spanderswoud, Hilversumse Heide, Hoorneboegse Heide and Bussumer Heide. These areas are now all nature areas managed by the Gooi Nature Reserve Foundation. The vegetation in the area includes deciduous and coniferous woods, heath, grassland with sand pits, land developed as estates and the unique leftovers of open high ground and commons (engen en meenten).
hidden park along the Vecht river
All along the river Vecht you can feast your eyes on such breathtaking country estates as Rupelmonde, Over Holland, Sterreschand and Weeresteyn. Vreedenhoff has what may be the most stunning decorative fence in the whole of Holland.

Vreeland (this whole village is on the national heritage list), Loenersloot (with impressive Loenersloot Castle), Nightevecht and Nieuwersluis are also part of Loenen. These days the lakes attract scores of water sports enthusiasts.

The village centres of Laren and Blaricum, the only villages in the province of North Holland with recognisable village greens. Here you will find Prehistoric burial mounds, the "death paths" (doodwegen) leading to the cemetery of St. John's Church (Sint-Janskerkhof) in Laren, the Erfgooiers, the fort and museum at Naarden, the old fishing harbour and village centre of Huizen, the estate landscape of 's-Graveland. Wijdemeren is a rural municipality with lakes, water sports, farmland and beautiful 17th-century estates in the Gooi and Vecht Region of North-Holland.

Vechtstreek ("The Vecht Area" is the plain area of the Vecht river in the centre of the Netherlands. The northern half of the Vechtstreek is part of the province of Noord-Holland, while the southern half is part of the province of Utrecht. On the western side the area is bordered by the Amsterdam-Rhine canal and the Vecht river, and on the eastern site by an area called “het Gooi”. The Vechtstreek covers about 8 by 20 km with wetlands, including small lakes, streams and fen-grassland patches, which have created characteristic flora and fauna, as well as a high biological diversity.

Some areas have been set aside for protection, including the Naardermeer (the oldest nature reserve in the Netherlands and the home of a unique colony of black cormorants (phalacrocorax nigra)) and the Gooi Nature Reserve (Goois Natuurreservaat). These areas are valuable buffers against encroaching urban development. A feature of the landscape in Het Gooi is the consistent encirclement of many heath areas with wooded margins, creating the illusion of an uninterrupted landscape and keeping the built-up areas out of sight. In the Netherlands this is rare.

There are lakes and waterways on both sides of the Vecht. These lakes and interconnecting waterways are referred to as the Vechtplassen ("the Vecht Lakes"), a series of man-made lakes resulting from the peat extraction. The lakes near Loosdrecht are especilly popular for sailing. West of the river Vecht there is another important area of man-made lakes, the Vinkeveen lakes. The Vechtplassen district is the perfect holiday destination for lovers of aquatic sports. Having a boat trip, sailing, canoeing, surfing and water skiing, everything is possible. The location near the major cities of The Netherlands make the Vechtplassen also extremely suitable for a day out.

How to get there:
From Amsterdam, the best route for exploring the Vecht district starts at Vreeland, near the northern edge of the river's most scenic central stretch. To get there, take the E9-A2 highway south from Amsterdam, exit at Vinkeveen-Hilversum, and head east toward Hilversum through cow- and sheep-dotted pastures and over the Amsterdam-Rhine canal (which is higher than the surroundng reclaimed land).

About two miles after leaving E9-A2, turn left at the sign for Vreeland, then turn right at the Mobil gas station, pass through an area of modern houses and turn left when the road makes a T-intersection. Shortly thereafter you will enter the old section of Vreeland along the Vecht.

Sports clubs
Fitness centrum van Hellemond, Johan de Witstrat 40, 1215 GX Hilversum
Hilversumse Lawn Tennis Club, 't Melkhuisjes, Bussumergintweg 58, 1217 BS Hilversum
Koninklijke Watersport vereniging Loosdrecht, O. Loosdrechtstedijk 151, 1231 LT Loosdrecht

Golf Clubs
Golfbaan Goyer en Country Club, Beukenlaan 1, 3755 MP Eemnes
Golf Club Hilversumse, Soestdijkerstraatweg 172, 1213 XJ Hilversum
Golf Crailoo, Sportpark Crailoo 26, 1222 AA Hilversum

Additional Links:
Gooi and Vecht
Gooi Nature Reserve Foundation (Goois Natuurreservaat (GNR)
A hidden park along the Vecht river
Castles on Vecht river
Loenersloot Castle
Camping on the shores of the Vecht river
Province of Overijssel, The Netherlands
Province of North-Holland (Provincie Noord-Holland)
Loenen Municipality
VVV Tourist Info In Loenen

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