Regional Overview

The Old Empire

The Gelderland here is actually two territories, the lands of the Bishops of Utrecht and the Duchy of Gelre. They represent the strongest ties to the Holy Roman Empire in the lowlands, and the cityscapes reflect this. From Rhenish Romanesque churches to the Holland-influenced classicism, it is a cultural borderland between the Dutch and German-speaking lands.

Regional Identity

What to Lookout For

  • Small towns with a mixed heritage, combining the history of the Holy Roman Empire with that of the Dutch Nation.
  • Brabantine and Rhineland influences in style, especially with regards to the Gothic but also with later styles such as the Baroque.
  • Dutch Classicism: Starting with the Renaissance but continuing through to the present is preference for rigid Italian classical design, e.g. Palladio.




Justin Bunch | CityscapeTravel My suggested travel destinations with the top three destinations highlighted.

What is the Gelderland?

The Bishops of Utrecht represent the first bastion of the Empire, being sent here to Christianize the region in the early Middle Ages. For their efforts, they took control of a vast territory up to the realm of Frisia, called the Oversticht. The Gelderland was divided among local nobility, who began to consolidate their holdings through war and marriage. Through the end of the Middle Ages, the Gelderland belonged to the Duchy of Jülich, later Jülich-Cleve-Berg. In the mid-16th century, the Dutch-speaking lands were ceded to the Habsburg Emperor Charles V, who held it only long enough for it to become part of the Netherlands.

The core of the region was formed around the old Imperial City of Nijmegen, Arnhem and in my case, Utrecht as well. Of these ancient cities, only Utrecht survived the Second World War, The Gelderland worth seeing lies in the spectacular medieval cityscapes of Zutphen, the Holland-esque cityscapes of Amersfoort and Utrecht, and the fortresses of the 80 Years War, e.g. Naarden.

My Subjective Travel Rankings

To understand where the categories come from, see this article here.

7.6 / 10

The score is based on the following:

  • Accommodation: 7
  • Transportation: 10
  • Volume/Capacity: 9
  • Infrastructure: 8
  • Interactivity: 4

5.3 / 10

The score is based on the following:

  • Context: 6
  • Monuments: 5
  • Quality: 5

7 / 10

The score is based on the following:

  • Abstraction: 8
  • Tradition: 6


The Imperial Lowlands

A diverse land united only by geography

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