{Germany} Jan Bouman House

January 18, 2013

Germany

If you find yourself on Mittelstraße in Germany’s Potsdam, you’d be forgiven for thinking you were in the Netherlands instead. The city’s Dutch Quarter was built in the 18th century for Dutch craftsmen living in Potsdam, an outward sign demonstrating the Prussians’ policy of tolerance. Covering an area of four city blocks, the around 150 houses are built in traditional Dutch style, with red bricks and gabled roofs. The Jan Bouman House, built in 1735 and named after the architect who directed the development, stands among them and now houses a museum showing the house, the courtyard and the garden in its original form.

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Visitors are introduced to the history of the Dutch Quarter, as well as its typical architectural elements, including the typical roof trusses and trademark gables which in the Jan Bouman House have been restored. There is also a series of information panels throughout the museum about the different interior furnishings, such as doors, window frames, locks and wrought iron fixtures, placed alongside historical images and blueprints. A particular nice example of furnishings are the tiled stoves, which were typical of the period, of which a surviving example can be seen on the ground floor.

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Some of the room interiors have been restored too, such as the historic kitchen, complete with kitchenware, and visitors can take a peek to see what’s behind the historic oven door. Other furniture on display throughout the house includes chairs and stools, a wardrobe and chest, and a spinning wheel. There are also two short films for visitors to view, one about the vision of “Holland in Potsdam” and one about the restoration project.

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After exploring the house, visitors can step out the back to see the old courtyard and garden. Potsdam may not exactly be a bustling metropole, but on a summer’s day it’s quite pleasant to retire to a quiet bench in the shade of a quince tree and take a short break from sightseeing in the serene surroundings.

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Besides the Dutch Quarter, Potsdam also boasts an Egyptian Pyramid, a Chinese House, a Russian Tearoom, a French Palace and some Obelisks. So to see the world in a day, why not head to Potsdam. And don’t be misled by it’s small town feel – on Friday’s nights Potsdam becomes some kind of magnet for fine dining and it’s near to impossible to get a table in any of the town’s restaurants without a reservation!

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