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Regular version of the site

Culture Café: Netherlands

November 27th marked our fifth Culture Café of this semester. This time it was dedicated to the Netherlands. In a very fun and engaging way, we have learned a lot about the country. Now it’s time to share some of that newfound knowledge.

November 27th marked our fifth Culture Café of this semester. This time it was dedicated to the Netherlands. In a very fun and engaging way, we have learned a lot about the country. Now it’s time to share some of that newfound knowledge.

Culture Café: The Netherlands started in a quite unusual way by dividing the audience into teams. Each team got its name after one of the Dutch cities and even got some of the Dutch sweets to share for the later. Then we proceeded to learn about those cities.


Of course, there’s Amsterdam – the capital and the most known and touristic city of the Netherlands. Besides many attractions for which Amsterdam as known for, it is also worth visiting if you are interested in the arts. Don’t miss your chance to visit Van Gogh Museum and Rijksmuseum which is one of the most visited art museums in the world and has the art of many famous Dutch artists’ work of XV—XIX centuries, including the pride of the collection – «The Night Watch» by Rembrandt.

Speaking of Rembrandt, just in 30 minutes train ride from Amsterdam lies the town of Leiden where the master was born. It’s also the home to the oldest university in the Netherlands. Not far from the Leiden, Keukenhof is – one of the largest flower gardens in the world which attracts many tourists each April for its classical Dutch postcard view – millions upon millions of tulips with a windmill in the background. 


If you want to see completely different side of the Netherlands – visit Rotterdam. After the World War II,  Rotterdam Blitz the government decided not to rebuild the city-center as it was before it got destroyed  but rebuild it entirely adjusting for the modern life. Now Rotterdam is the most urbanistic and modern city in the country, with a lot of architecture experiments being build every year, such as inspiring Marthal food market or innovating Cube houses right across the street.

Don’t miss the start of the carnival season which is the 11th of the 11th (November 11th). And, of course, don't forget to try famous Dutch cheeses. The city of Gouda is one of the few cities that still places traditional street cheese markets, you can visit it every Thursday from April to August.

Speaking of cheeses, it is not the only Dutch food that you must try. During Culture Café we got to try many Dutch sweets, including Speculaas – delicious cookies traditionally baked for St. Nicholas’ Day. Stroopwafels – thin waffles with a caramel-like syrup in between. Kruidnoten – small cinnamon and ginger cookies that you just can’t seem to stop eating. All of that and many more tasty things that we would highly recommend.

Then we have learned a little bit about the history of the Netherlands, which is too rich to squeeze it into two-hour event, much less this article. Here’s just some of the famous Dutch people without whose contribution the world wouldn’t be the same: Christiaan Huygens who have made groundbreaking discoveries in physics, math and astronomy, invented pendulum clock and considered to be the founder of mathematical physics. Hugo de Groot laid the foundation for international law. And, of course, a lot of artists about whom you learn about in the art history class (Rembrandt, Vincent Van Gogh, Pieter Bruegel, Hieronymus Bosch and more.

No Culture Café can pass without talking about the language of the title country. Dutch language is complicated. There are more than 24 dialects throughout the country, there are a lot of words that are very important but don’t have a direct translation into English, and pronunciation is just insane. However, if you are a brave soul who decided to learn Dutch, there are some good news for you. The language has no cases and no genders. And if you just want to visit the Netherlands as a tourist and fear you won’t be able to get around without speaking Dutch, don’t worry, 93% of Dutch people speak perfect conversational English. 



Overall, it was a beautiful evening filled with interesting information, fun games and delicious snacks. We thank our presenter David once again for organizing this Culture Café and we are inviting you to visit our next events and maybe even organize your own Café in your country.

Text: Evgenia Senkina