We spent an afternoon in Delft on a trip through the Netherlands. It was a quaint and charming city that I recommend for visitors wanting a more laid back Netherlands experience than you would find in a bigger city like Amsterdam. I think Delft is a great destination for a day, a night, or long weekend getaway, especially for something like an artist’s retreat or a slow, relaxing holiday.
We did not eat anywhere during our time in Delft because we were only there a few hours. I regret not trying the regional specialty, pickled herring, from one of the fish stands in the center of town. If we return, I will be more adventurous and give it a try!
Delft is home to the famous Delftware potteries that make the beautiful blue and white tiles and other ceramics that the city is known for. You can tour the potteries and purchase the pottery from various shops in town. I looked at many pieces but couldn’t settle on one – another regret from the visit – but I see Delftware often in antique stores all over this region so I am sure I will find a piece I love eventually. I’ve also enjoyed spotting Delftware tiles in old Belgian buildings. I did learn from one of the shop employees that there are different grades of quality in the ceramics, some are more mass-produced now for the tourist industry, so be careful when you are shopping and just recognize that there are different levels of craftsmanship in what is available for purchase. A benefit of that is that there is also a variety of price ranges!
We walked around the city and enjoyed the views of the canals, bridges, churches, storefronts, and restaurants. We decided, on a whim, to visit the Vermeer Centrum Delft museum, the museum showcasing the work of artist Johannes Vermeer, his methods, and Delft in his time period. It is located in the historic home of the Saint Lucas Guild, the artist’s guild to which he belonged. The exhibits were very informative and well done. I particularly enjoyed the section on Vermeer’s methods using light and paint colors. Audio guides were available in multiple languages. They also had a kid’s activity to guide children through the museum. This kept our son more interested in the exhibits, which include replicas of all of Vermeer’s paintings, which bought us some extra time in the museum since he wasn’t trying to rush us through. Upon completing the activity, he was able to pick out a free postcard to take home. He chose one with Vermeer’s “View of Delft”. Recently his class at school studied Vermeer’s “Girl with a Pearl Earring” and he was able to share his memories of the museum and his postcard with the class. How cool is that? I love that he had that hands-on, real-life learning experience to draw from. My souvenir from the museum was a new copy of Tracy Chevalier’s Girl With a Pearl Earring, which was inspired by Vermeer’s painting. It was fun to read after having visited Delft and learning more about Vermeer.
There is certainly more to do in Delft than we were able to do in our short time there. I hope we can return, perhaps to share it with visitors. If you are considering a visit there, I encourage it!