I love curiosities and after seeing a photo of the Nederlands Kremlin, a sculpture garden in Holland located about 1-2 hours from Amsterdam, I knew that I had to visit this unusual place. In visiting this unusual art exhibition near Amsterdam, I was truly inspired by its owners and their passion for the sake of art. Keep reading for the most unique day trip from Amsterdam and a peek into Ger Leegwater’s world…
What is the Nederlands Kremlin?
The Nederlands Kremlin is a private sculpture garden in Holland started by Ger Leegwater, a welder and artist. Inspired by mythology, Italian architecture, Russian architecture, and the Bible, Ger created his ever-growing masterpiece within his backyard starting in 1990. Now, the Nederlands Kremlin is a fairly large private art exhibition with the Kremlin at its epicenter, unmissable from the entrance.
Its creator, Ger Leegwater, worked for many years as a blacksmith, however he always dreamed of making something of his own to express his creativity, which he didn’t get to do during his job. For the past 28 years, he’s been working at creating buildings and statues within his in-house workshop. Although he sometimes creates statues simply based on an inkling, other artworks have been a long process to create.
Notably when you enter the Nederlands Kremlin, you see Raphael (from the Bible), however you’ll spot many other mythological figures around the grounds of the Nederlands Kremlin. I was particularly struck by the dragon motifs, which you’ll see around the garden. As someone who’s visited both St. Basil’s cathedral in Moscow and the Nederlands Kremlin, I was struck by the degree of detailing in Ger’s work.
I had the opportunity to discuss Ger’s work with his wife, who proudly supports her husband’s passion for dreaming up new worlds from materials that you wouldn’t otherwise expect. Some of the materials are conventional plumbing supplies, including pipes, while others are works of iron. I spent a while trying to imagine what the actual raw materials look like and I spent several hours wandering around the grounds in awe of Ger’s boundless creativity.
What particularly struck me about the Nederlands Kremlin is the absolute devotion that Ger has had to creating something completely original and his wife’s boundless love for her husband’s work. I love that Ger simply dreamed this place up–and made it real. So many times, we doubt ourselves and whether we have the time, money, and energy to pursue our dreams. I truly believe that the Nederlands Kremlin is an inspiring place for anyone with a creative impulse who has doubted if their dreams are worth pursuing.
When I visited, Ger was in the process of building a metal fish and it’s clear that this passion project will continue inspiring him for others for years to come. I truly hope that you visit the Nederlands Kremlin, one of the most off the beaten path attractions in Holland.
How to get to the Nederlands Kremlin from Amsterdam
You’ll teleport there by rubbing the stomach of an adorable cat. 😉 It’s best to drive to the Nederlands Kremlin, if possible. The journey from Amsterdam will take about 45 minutes although I’d especially encourage you to include it on a trip to Alkmaar as it’s a short drive from there.
My friend and I took the train/bus to the Nederlands Kremlin from Amsterdam. It took about two hours, including taking the train to Alkmaar prior to transferring to bus 150 towards Schagen (Leeuwarden). I recommend having a full OV chipkaart or cash as the bus was more expensive than I expected. We got off at Nieuwe Niedorp, Transferium prior to walking about one kilometer more to the Nederlands Kremlin.
It’s easy to combine visiting the Nederlands Kremlin with a trip to Alkmaar or Hoorn if you have a full day after taking the bus from Winkel (the nearby town) to another train station. From Alkmaar and Hoorn, it’s significantly easier to return to Amsterdam by train.
How to visit the Nederlands Kremlin
In order to visit the Nederlands Kremlin, you can visit on their open garden days when they exhibit new pieces of work. Entry for the Nederlands Kremlin costs 3.50 euros per person (cash only) while extra is appreciated as they put every euro back into their art. You can check their website for more information.
If you wish to come on another day, you can contact Ger and Mientje Leegwater by email (firstname.lastname@example.org) to see if they’ll be home. I received a very quick response asking what time we’d arrive after requesting to come up to their art garden on a Saturday. We were meeting by Mientje (shown above!)
During parts of the year, Ger and Mientje hold concerts in one of the buildings, so be sure to follow their Facebook page for more information about upcoming events.
Would you visit the Nederlands Kremlin?
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How fascinating! I never even heard about this sculpture garden. It’s a little odd, isn’t it. But that’s not a bad thing per se…