Imagine yourself centuries back in time in Fortress Bourtange

Fortress Bourtange in beautiful Westerwolde (South east Groningen) takes you back in time in a unique way. The historic fortress is known as a small lovely town. Open year round Bourtange offers a wonderful experience for all.

Fortress Bourtange, experience the year 1742 up close

Past and present come together in Bourtange, which is based on original drawings from the year 1742. Walking through the Vriesse Poort brings you right back to that time, amidst moats, old cannons, fortified walls and much more. Bourtange is still inhabited, the residents live in homes between buildings that in 1742 were mostly used for military purposes but are now converted into museums, shops and restaurants.

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The origin of Bourtange


The history of Vesting Bourtange takes us back to the Eighty Years’ War. In the 16th century, half of the present-day province of Groningen was still covered by impassable swamp areas. At that time some places were only accessible via sandy passes. Access to the later Bourtange was created via one of these passes.

Sconce with five bastions

When the city of Groningen fell into the hands of the Spaniards in 1580, none other than William of Orange gave the order to build a redoubt with five bastions. This redoubt had to be built on the sand ridge in the swamp areas with the German border. Through this sand ridge the city of Groningen was connected with German places such as Westphalia and Lingen. The Spaniards used this sand ridge to supply the city of Groningen. By constructing the redoubt, the prince hoped to block this access route, isolating the city of Groningen.

Mien Ruys was nicknamed “Sleepers Mien” by using railway sleepers in her garden designs. This trend was very popular throughout the Netherlands in the 1970s. She liked to work with straight shapes such as rectangles and squares.

The design by Adriaan Anthoniszoon

Fortress Bourtange was designed according to the idea of ​​the fortification engineer Adriaan Anthoniszoon. This Alkmaar mayor decided on a pentagonal bastion, which was started in April 1580 by ditching the field. The building was completed in 1593, after which it was continuously reinforced.

Through the ages

The reason for this reinforcement had everything to do with the changing frontier over the centuries. In addition, new insights took place continuously and the firepower of the artillery increased. In the year 1742 the fortress was at its largest. Due to the rise of increasingly modern warfare, the defenses of Bourtange gradually lost their function. This led to the fortress being officially disbanded in the year 1851, after which an agricultural village was created. More than 100 years later, the municipality of Vlagtwedde decided to reconstruct it, making Vesting Bourtange look almost as it was in the heyday of 1742. 

Museums and expositions

Fortress Bourtange offers not only a unique ambiance but also several museums with varying exhibitions, showing the genesis of the town. A visit to the old baracks is highly recommended, just like the captains home and synagogue.

Shops and restaurants

On Marktplein in Fortress Bourtange you can browse through cozy shops, plenty of restaurants and bars and an actual candle maker. Activities are organized from farm “De Sikkepit” , like discovering the town from the water in a rowing boat or canoe. Antiquing can be done in the farms’ attic.

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Events through out the year

Various events are organized through out the year in the fortified town of Bourtange. These events range from reenacted battles to all kinds of markets. For example Autumnmarkets and Christmasmarkets. During that season every Sunday afternoon at 15.00 hours the “Exercitie Peloton Bourtange” fires an old canon which attracts a lot of people. The canon also gets fired on Easter Monday, Acsension Day and Whit Monday.

Napoleon’s troops 

A very special annual event is the “Slag om Bourtange”. It is te biggest mock fight since 1814 in Bourtange. The troops of Napoleon were in Bourtange at the time. The Dutch army, with support from Germany, United Kingdom, Belgium and France is trying to recapture Bourtange in this mock fight. It is a very impressive and interesting scene.

Weapons, clothes but also kitchenware, dietery habits and camping life are being exactly imitated. During this famous battle you are going back in time. In the fortified city you can find plays everywhere that give you the best impression of how the soldiers were living that time. Canons, blasting muskets and soldiers melodies, nothing is lacking. You can also see how people were trading with eachother at the time. The finalplay is the parade where all the soldiers play along that have survived that day.

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Numerous of possibilities for group activities

The fortified city is absolutely worth visiting for people of all age. There are numerous of po for group acvivities. There is a hostessteam available that can give you a guided tour and professional company through the town of Bourtange. It is not only an informative trip but it can also be a company outing. For example, various arrangements are possible, including a puzzle or torchlight tour through the fortified city. Canoeing together trhough the canals of the fortress is also a popular activity.

Openinghours and informationcentre

For more information and openinghours of Fortress Bourtange: This site uses cookies for the best experience.

There is also an informationcentre in the entrancebuilding of the fortified town. All the visitors will get a short introduction about the history of the forified town. You can also find a lot of information about openinghours, food and beverages, stores and museums. You can purchase your tickets in the informationcentre. They also have discounts for families.