Hilversum is a municipality in North Holland. It is a smallish city, with a population of just under 90,000 people. It is quite a hill covered area that has easy reach to woods, forests, lakes and large green areas. Starting in the early 20th century, the name Hilversum has been connected with Dutch broadcasting. The industry has grown from its simple beginnings to the collection of broadcasting and multi media organisations that are based there today.
The history of Hilversum
The earliest signs of habitation around the Hilversum area go back as far as the Bronze age. But the earliest “modern” type of buildings were though to have been constructed around the 10th century. Although it was not until the early 14th century that a mainly agricultural community was known to have existed there. There was also a little industry there, in the shape of wool processing. But the town was not an independent entity in its own right until the early 15th century. This allowed the townspeople of Hilversum to make their own decisions as to industrial and economic development of the area, with the result that the town grew quickly in terms of both industry and also, population.
In the 1600’s things were going well for Hilversum as with most of Holland and this brought about much innovation, such as the building of canals as a means to facilitate the transport of goods directly to the capital. But in the early and mid 18th century there were huge fires that burnt most of the town to the ground. Rebuilding however was swift and prosperity soon returned in the shape of, mainly textile industries to which Hilversum had traditionally been home.
In 1874 the railway came to the area and brought with it improved transport links that brought about more expansion in the town, with not only goods being transported to Amsterdam more quickly, but also, as the transport allowed reduced journey times, wealthy workers from the capital moving into the more green and pleasant surroundings of Hilversum.
In the 1920’s a transmitter and radio factory was established in Hilversum and grew exponentially until it was the biggest radio factory in Holland. But this growth in the newer industries was happening while the traditional manufacturing base was in decline. By the 1950’s most of the Dutch broadcasting industry was located in the rising media town of Hilversum. Although through the 1960’s the towns population grew to over 100,000, it dropped back to it’s present level due to the trend of smaller families and the fact that there was no land available for development around the town. Due to this, there was a large jump in property prices and meant that many workers moved to other areas.
Getting to And Around Hilversum
If you are flying in to Hilversum, then you will probably go to Amsterdam’s Schiphol Airport. There is a train station in the airport and there are good road transport links as well.
Train travel in the Netherlands is usually quick, clean and on time and Hilversum is no exception to this. There are 3 train stations in the town, Hilversum Noord and Hilversum Sportpark, but most trains arrive at Hilversum central station. There are usually about 4 trains an hour From Amsterdam and Amsterdam Schiphol airport. There are also fast trains from Berlin and Hanover, as well as Utrecht and Amersfoort.
If you are travelling by car, there are lots of hire car agencies in both Schiphol Airport and central Amsterdam. Hilversum is easily accessible from the A1, A27 and A2 motorways. It is not always easy to get around Hilversum by car, due to the traffic and lack of parking. Also when you do find somewhere to park the prices can be very high.
There are good bus services in in the city making it very easy to get around without the need for a car. If you are not travelling too far then you can do like the Dutch do and take a bicycle. Although there are some hills in the area, it is still easily accessible by bike and you can hire them in the town fairly easily. If you would like to travel by taxi, there are several taxi ranks in Hilversum, including one at the station. If you would like to get a taxi from your hotel, then you can book one by phone, Ai Taxi Hilversum +31 6 31684444 and City Taxi +31 6 22972655
The Museum Hilversum is in a beautiful renaissance styled building, although it was actually built in the 1800’s. It houses a good and varied collection from the local area, featuring the industrial and agricultural aspects of the town in both its recent and medieval history. The Sound And Vision Experience is a well put together museum, recording both the radio and television history of the Netherlands and has many different displays from the Dutch media from its early beginnings to the present day.The tower of the The Great Church, is the oldest building in the town, being built in the late 15th century. The rest of the building was rebuilt in the late 19th century. The church has been burned down several times, but is now fully restored.
Shopping And Eating
The Hilvertshof shoppingcentre, along with the Kerkstraat, are the best places to find the large multinational and national stores that you would expect to find in any large Dutch town. the Hilvertshof is covered and so is a good place to go when the weather is bad. The Gooische Brink is the best for more upmarket clothes shopping, as it has a lot of independent and more expensive clothes stores.
Mc Crispy might not sound as though it is the most interesting place to eat, but the establishment is run by caring owners and provides good quality fast food in a comfortable and friendly atmosphere. The Lakes Restaurant is an altogether more upmarket establishment that caters for those who are looking for fine dinning in the French and Mediterranean styles. It also has a very stylish interior as well as knowledgeable and friendly staff.
Hilversum is a great place for a holiday if you are looking for something a little quieter than the bright lights of the larger cities. Not only does it have great history and entertainment, it is also surrounded by many areas of forest and heathland and has some great walking as well.