Home to one of the world’s best known circuits for motorcycle racing, Assen is a rustic city in the Netherlands. It covers an area of about 83 square kilometers and has a population that was estimated at just over 67,000, as at the end of the year 2013. Assen has always been a relatively important city since the medieval times. Historians tell us that the city’s history goes back to the 1250s, at a time when the members of clergy were also the rulers of the land. Nowadays, Assen receives huge numbers of visitors every year: with many of these being people coming to its motorcycle racing circuit, and with the others being people coming to savor its other attractions.
Getting around Assen
Assen has a railway station located close (about five minutes) from the city center. So as you come into or go out of Assen by train, you get to go through and see quite a bit of the city. Close to the railway station at Assen is the local bus station. The buses there can really take you around the city, unlike the train which just gets you ‘into’ Assen.
Assen, like most cities in Netherlands, really goes out of its way to encourage people (residents and visitors alike) to use bicycles. To this end, you have the option of hiring a bike, and using it to get around this city, which prides itself of being one of the world’s cycling capitals. The nice thing about getting around Assen in a bicycle is that, for the most part, you won’t really be trying to compete for road usage rights and road space with nasty motorists, as Assen has a very extensive network of tracks specially developed and set aside for use by people on bicycles. Neither will you be alone as a cyclist: as this is a city where almost half of all journeys are made by people using bicycles.
Assen is also quite a pedestrian-friendly city, so getting around and exploring its various sections by foot shouldn’t be too tricky.
Things to see and do in Assen
Contrary to what we have been conditioned to believe, tourist attractions don’t actually always have to be in the form of the cherished relics of a historical nature. This is the conclusion you are likely to draw, after coming to learn that one of Assen’s major tourist attractions is actually its rather modern motorcycle racing circuit, otherwise known as TT Circuit Assen. So good is this circuit that, for almost 65 years, it has featured annually in the MotoGP calendar. Even when there are no races taking places there, the circuit by itself is quite an attraction.
Many visitors to Assen also find it worthwhile to set aside some time, and visit Drents Museum in the city. This is a fine example of what a historical museum should be, and the time you invest in visiting it will definitely be time well invested. You will not only come across archeological displays, but also models of how people in the medieval and industrial ages lived, around here. You can also visit Assen’s Museum Westebork, where you will get to improve your knowledge of the atrocities committed in the Second World War.
Assen is also a city of architectural marvels. Among these is the Abbey Church, which is part of the city’s Drent’s Museum, but which is worth mentioning by itself. Originally built in the mid 13th century and rebuilt in the 17th century, is an austere but remarkable structure. Related religious structures that are also architectural masterpieces in Assen include the Beth-el Church, and the Parish Church which is close to the Jozefchurch. Jozefkerk, built in the mid 19th century is also striking, as is the city’s court of Justice and town hall.
If you are in Assen on one of the days when the flea market is open, you can go shopping there at Winkelcentrum Assen – and the experience will certainly be memorable.
A visit to Assen also gives you a chance to see a few of the remarkable natural rock structures known as Hunebedden. These, as per historical accounts, were used as burial sites by ancient people: the folks who lived in the Netherlands thousands of years ago.