How the church and art formed the city
Immediately beside the church Martinikerk you will find the Oort Cloud Fountain. A narrow fountain with a golden sphere on top, from which a cool cloud of mist emerges occasionally. With its colours - gold, black and white - the fountain refers to our starry sky, as a tribute to astronomer Jan Hendrik Oort. The short walk through Franeker starts here.
Don’t dive straight into the city, even though that may be tempting. A walk around the church is very rewarding because of the beautiful garden full of herbs, such as valerian, verbena, nepeta and salvia. The church has always been an important part of the city. Not only because of the religion it brought, but also because during the Reformation, the University of Franeker attracted many students who were trained as Protestant pastors.
Walk into the city in an easterly direction, with the former orphanage on your right. This is an impressive building with shutters and wooden beams, that now houses a bakery with lunchroom. Past this building turn right, towards the Eise Eisinga Planetarium. In this small museum you will find the world’s oldest working planetarium. But look to the left first, to the beautiful façade of the town hall in Frisian Renaissance style. A work of art in itself!
Next to the Eise Eisinga Planetarium, you will find brasserie De Stadstuin. The façade is quite remarkable, with its striking wooden elements. But the garden behind this brasserie is why you should really go inside. Not in the mood yet for something tasty? Then we’ll continue our walk and follow the canal on the right-hand side. This takes you to the tiny Korendragershuisje. A mini museum you can visit for free.
At the end of the Zilverstraat, which runs parallel to the canal, cross over to the Leeuwarderend, which will take you to the Franeker bulwark. The world around you turns green for a while. Don’t walk up the bulwark yet, but choose the little path right next to the water, so that you will pass the Geuzengat. This recently restored, centuries-old tunnel was once an escape route to get in and out of the city.
Return to the elevated path on the bulwark, which will take you past the old tea house Theekoepeltje. This charming ‘arbour’ with its beautiful wallpaper serves as a studio for artists in the summer. Feel welcome to peek inside and have a chat with a local artist.
The route continues in the direction of the Sjûkelân (pronounced: sjoe-ke-lawn), where annual ‘kaats’ matches have been held since the nineteenth century. Kaatsen is an old Frisian ball game that bears some resemblance to handball, and the Franeker people master it like no other. The Keats Museum is located here too, for anyone interested in learning more about this cultural-historical sport.
The street straight across from the field is the Franeker shopping street, where halfway you will come across Museum Martena. The museum is housed in an impressive medieval ‘stins’, a former fortified small city castle. Hop through the fence on the right to visit the garden behind the stins. After you have admired the stins and its garden, you can continue the route by following the shopping street, which will take you to the church Martinikerk. There, you will find a cosy café terrace surrounded by beautiful façades - an excellent way to end your walk. All restaurants and cafés of Franeker can be found here.