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Kolonien van Weldadigheid

Colonies of Benevolence


The village of Oosterwolde shares a border with the province of Drenthe. Just across the border is the village of Veenhuizen, where from 1823 vagrants and beggars were shut up in an institution and made to work for their keep. Today the building houses the National Prison Museum. Together with the unusual farming settlements in the neighbouring villages of Frederiksoord, Wilhelminaoord and Willemsoord, which were systematically organised and self-sufficient, this led Veenhuizen and the surrounding area to be known as the Colonies of Benevolence.

In July 2021, this unique man-made landscape was declared a UNESCO World Heritage Site. 

The National Prison Museum tells the story of the vagrants and paupers who were part of a social reform experiment designed to turn those who were down and out into industrious citizens and fallow ground into productive farmland.

There ar…

The village of Oosterwolde shares a border with the province of Drenthe. Just across the border is the village of Veenhuizen, where from 1823 vagrants and beggars were shut up in an institution and made to work for their keep. Today the building houses the National Prison Museum. Together with the unusual farming settlements in the neighbouring villages of Frederiksoord, Wilhelminaoord and Willemsoord, which were systematically organised and self-sufficient, this led Veenhuizen and the surrounding area to be known as the Colonies of Benevolence.

In July 2021, this unique man-made landscape was declared a UNESCO World Heritage Site. 

The National Prison Museum tells the story of the vagrants and paupers who were part of a social reform experiment designed to turn those who were down and out into industrious citizens and fallow ground into productive farmland.

There are moorings along the waterway and near the lock in the village. Be sure to take a look at the main bridge over the Opsterlandse Compagnonsvaart canal in Oosterwolde. The two pylons of this unique lifting bridge are made entirely of composite. 

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