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GRONINGEN

Groningen is a lively university city in the Northern Netherlands. Combined with the fine historic heritage, an excellent museum and good shopping opportunities, this is a prime destination in the north.

The city centre is both pleasant and interesting, with plenty of cultural heritage and a laid-back atmosphere. Together with the excellent Groninger Museum, it forms the main attraction for visitors.

Severe battles left hundreds of buildings in ruins in 1945, but a good number or monuments remain. Strolling through the city centre you'll encounter former canal warehouses, the city hall, several churches, the former Gold Office and many other historic buildings. Over recent decades, the city has attempted to find a balance between modern architecture and historic grandeur: and with success. The latest initiative is a major renewal of the eastern side of the Grote Markt, for which the building is currently in progress and planned to be complete in 2017.

Like many cities in The Netherlands, the centre is surrounded by a canal. Several historic canals have been "gedempt", or filled, however, and turned into streets. This is reflected in their names, and you'll likely find yourself strolling along the Gedempte Zuiderdiep. The heart of the city is formed around the two adjoining market squares, The Grote Markt (or Large Market) and the Vismarkt (or Fish Market). Standing tall on the edge of the Grote Markt is the Martini Tower, a true landmark for Groningen and one of its main attractions.

The Herestraat, the city's pedestrianised shopping street, runs south off the Grote Markt and contains most of the city's everyday shopping needs and 'standard' Dutch clothing stores and chains. The most picturesque shopping street is called the Folkingestraat; it runs south from the Korenbeurs (the former corn exchange) at the end of the Vismarkt towards the museum bridge and the Central Station. It has a lot of little shops full of firsthand and secondhand little gifts, intercultural foods and great books.

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