Arnhem through the eyes of Meike Verhagen and Robert Wittenberg
Meike Verhagen is the director of the Eusebius Church; she represents the Eusebiuskwartier with Robert Wittenberg, Brand Manager for the Dudok Hospitality Group. He put café-brasserie Dudok Arnhem — a stone’s throw from the Eusebius Church — on the map as the city’s living room. Meike and Robert know better than anyone else what there is to do in the Eusebiuskwartier.
HOW WOULD YOU DESCRIBE ARNHEM?
Meike: “The Eusebiuskwartier has stories from the Middle Ages to the Second World War, views from glass balconies, and beautiful buildings — you can find it all here.” Robert: “The uniqueness of the city of Arnhem lies in its combination of culture, history, heritage, atmosphere and liveliness.”
Meike: “The Eusebius Church, with its glass balconies from which you can see the whole landscape: the Veluwe, Betuwe and the city’s beauty. The Eusebius Church is now more a museum than a church. There are 1,000 ancient stone figures on display. Artist Arno Coenen added some recent figures on the outside, such as a coronavirus.”
Robert: “You can learn about the Battle of Arnhem at Airborne at the Bridge and the Walburgis Church. If you are more interested in the city’s medieval history and the Duchy of Gelre, the history of the Middle Ages can still be seen here, despite the bombings. I recommend Duivelshuis; you can easily book a tour through Gilde Stadswandeling Arnhem.”
Meike: “For a fun night out, I think we would both end up at Focus Filmtheater, next to the Eusebius Church. Again, it’s that combination of culture and friendliness. Focus has a good programme of films and an open-air cinema on the roof! By the way, the Arnhem production Knor is now running there, which I can strongly recommend for the whole family. The animated film won three Gouden Kalveren and was nominated for an Oscar. Before or after the film, Dudok has a lovely terrace for a drink or a cappuccino with cake, as do many other hospitality venues in the Eusebiuskwartier.”
HOW WOULD YOU DESCRIBE THE ATMOSPHERE IN ARNHEM?
Robert: “Now that the church is out of the scaffolding and it is nice and busy, Arnhemmers and visitors sometimes even compare Arnhem to Maastricht—that late medieval look with terraces and market at weekends makes it very cosy. What makes the area and the Eusebiuskwartier unique is that it is a historical attraction in which everything is close together. Since the arrival of Coenen’s sculptures, the Eusebius Church has had another unique element. These sculptures are beautifully lit and attract a lot of visitors.”
WHAT MAKES ARNHEM'S HISTORY SO EXTRAORDINARY?
Meike: “The history of the Eusebiuskwartier is layered, but the two main themes are highlighted here. The origins and flourishing of the city in the Middle Ages can be seen in the Eusebius Church, Sabelspoort and the Duivelshuis, among others. Duke Charles of Gelre played a major role in defending the Duchy of Gelre. Arnhemmers were very happy with him, so he was buried in a beautiful tomb in the Eusebius Church. Maarten van Rossum was his squire and lived next to the Eusebius in the Duivelshuis. Much later, another event largely shaped the character of the city: the Battle of Arnhem during World War II. You can learn about this at the Eusebius Church and other locations in the Eusebiuskwartier.”
WHERE DO YOU FIND PEACE IN THE CITY?
According to Meike, in the Eusebiuskwartier, you can go to the Eusebius Church: “Outside the Eusebius Church, Arnhem is alive with bustle and fun; inside the church, it is peaceful and calm.” There is plenty of peace to be found outside, too. Robert: “Walk through the Sablepoort towards the Rhine and enter tranquillity. Sonsbeek, outside the Eusebiuskwartier, is also an oasis of green: it is the most beautiful city park in the Netherlands. It is extraordinary how it spills over into the city. With its walled courtyard garden, Dudok Arnhem also offers a hidden green gem in the middle of the city centre.
Meike: “In three words: creative, green and free. This is in the DNA of Arnhem and can be seen everywhere, including in the items sold at the Citystore Arnhem in the Eusebius Church. Creativity plays a large role in Arnhem, partly due to the ArtEZ University of the Arts. Freedom refers to the Battle of Arnhem, among other things, during which ninety per cent of the city was destroyed. The city rebounded from that, for which it is known nationally and internationally. You can feel the resilience of the city and society everywhere — along with the freedom we have had since then.”
Portrait photography: Elise Photography