Arnhem is perhaps most famous for the WWII battle made famous by the movie “A Bridge Too Far.” It sits with a few kilometers of the German border and on two rivers, the Nederrijn and the IJssel. The Allies sought to cross the Rhine (Nederrijn) there. The bridge became the focal point of the battle. Near the bridge is the Airborn at the Bridge Museum, which briefly recounts the battle. Below is the rebuilt bridge as seen from the museum. There is a larger version of the museum outside the city.
We entered the Rhine at the end of the Rheine-Herne-Kanal and thence north to Doesberg, famous for its mustard factory. I will cover that and our scare near Arnhem at the bottom of this article.
Arnhem today is one of the country’s larger cities at 160,000 residents. Between Arnhem and Nijmegen, also enveloped in the battle, house some 700,000. It was beautifully rebuilt after the war.
As you no doubt expect, settlement in the area dates from way back. Neanderthals lived in this part of Europe. Two firestones (fire resitant stones) are dated to 70,000 years, of Neanderthal origin. A hunters camp dates to 5000 BCE, grave mounds to 2400 BCE. The earliest settlement dates to 15000 BCE. The first written mention is in 893. It’s location near the two rivers makes it very convenient for shipping and transport. It entered the Hanseatic League in 1443.
It was occupied by the French from to 1795-1813. Later in the 19th century it became known for its city parks, which remain a major feature today.
After entering the Rhine at the terminus of the Rheine-Herne-Kanal we proceeded north. We were not alone. Huge barges came along with us, at times squeezing us close to the shore line. Several times I had to cross to the other side to allow them room, each time trying to determine what side of the river they wanted, as they would choose the side with less current, which was running at 5 kilometers per hour, boosting our speed by 50%. One double wide barge kicked up 1 to 1 1/2 meter waves, not a problem for the boat. They lasted just a minute or two, just enough to remove the large fender we’d just bought and nearly getting a second. We should have lifted them to the deck.
Doesburg has a mustard factory that has been around since circa 1800. It has a small museum and shop. Of course we had to try to the local mustard soup. It’s basic ingredients are stock, mustard and cream. I figure every chef has their own version.
Doesburg became a city in 1223. It was fortified until 1923, if you can imagine that.
We continued north to Arnhem. As we approach a large barge was going slowly as we approached. Perhaps the river was too shallow so he had to reduce speed. As we neared his stern he swung toward us, sucking us in with his large prop. Fortunately the pilot noticed and cut his prop so we were able to move past him. It was a bit of a scare. We entered the harbor with ease.