Katwijk aan Zee, also known as Katwijk-upon-Sea, is a stunning seaside resort located at the mouth of the Oude Rijn in the province of South Holland, Netherlands. This charming town has a rich history dating back to Roman times and boasts a unique culture and dialect that still thrive today.
Katwijk gets its name from the Chatten tribe, a Germanic tribe that once inhabited the area. In Roman times, Katwijk was a place of strategic importance and a jumping-off point for the voyage to Britain. The town’s name was Lugudunum, and it was built during the reign of Emperor Claudius. After the Romans left, the settlement was abandoned and the area largely depopulated, except for small, isolated groups of Frisians making a living on the changing coast. The area was Christianised by British and Irish missionaries around the 9th century. Starting around the 12th century, the population began to grow. In 1231, the first reference to Catwijck appeared in the records, and by the 14th century, it was a thriving fishing village. Katwijk aan Zee and Katwijk aan den Rijn were part of the same heerlijkheid called Beide de Katwijken en t Zand, which have been administratively joined for centuries. In 1520, a Roman ruin known as Brittenburg emerged from the shifting sands on the beach just south of the mouth of the Oude Rijn, much to everyone’s astonishment. It became the subject of a number of prints and paintings but eventually disappeared back under the shifting sands. During World War II, most of the buildings of Katwijk aan Zee were demolished by the Germans to make way for the Atlantic Wall. In the dunes south of Katwijk, many bunkers from World War II can still be found.
The Artist Colony Katwijk School:
Katwijk aan Zee was subject to landscape painting since the time of the Dutch Golden Age. From 1870 to 1914, it was an artists colony known as the Katwijk School, which was part of the international movement of impressionism and belonged to the Hague School. Many famous artists worked in Katwijk, including David Adolphe Constant Artz, Bernard Blommers, Eugéne Dücker, Thomas Bush Hardy, Jozef Israëls, Johannes Hermanus Koekkoek, Max Liebermann, Jan Toorop, and Jan Hillebrand Wijsmuller. The Katwijks Museum has a permanent exhibition of the former life of Katwijk aan Zee and annually changing art exhibitions, with themes ranging from the time of impressionism to the artists who had worked in Katwijk aan Zee.
Katwijk aan Zee is the landing place for a large number of international and intercontinental Transatlantic telephone cables, such as the TAT-14. It is also the home town of Netherlands forward Dirk Kuyt, a retired professional football player who has played for FC Utrecht, Feyenoord, Liverpool F.C., and Fenerbahçe S.K. and the Netherlands national football team. He started and ended his senior career with local team Quick Boys, playing for them in 1998 and 2018.
Whether you’re interested in history, art, or just soaking up the sun on a beautiful beach, Katwijk aan Zee has something for everyone. Come explore this hidden gem and see why it should be on every traveler’s bucket list.