Monumental village

Once a penal colony, now a village with over a hundred listed monuments. This is tangible heritage that tells an exceptional story. Various walking and cycling routes run along the fine monuments.

The sober architecture, the straight lines and the pedantic inscriptions on many buildings immediately catch the eye. Anyone who walks along monuments likes the hospital, the slaughterhouse, the power plant, the Maallust complex and the trades cluster will understand that Veenhuizen was once completely self-sufficient. An autarkic society in the middle of an isolated peat land area.

The Vierde Gesticht (Fourth Asylum) is also a monument. That was the nickname for the cemetery on the Eikenlaan among the nineteenth century inmates: whoever lived in one of the three asylums would sooner or later end up in ‘the Fourth’.

The hospital with the inscription Vertrouw op God (Trust in God) was, by the way, also popularly quickly and derisively renamed to Gauw bij God (Soon with God). (This was not entirely unjustified, given the inadequate hygiene and poor living conditions in the colony.)

Since then, penal and re-education have made way for detention, and in many cases reintegration into society: there are a number of prisons in Veenhuizen, of which two are housed in the nineteenth century colony asylums.

The history is alive in Veenhuizen, with a strong link to the present…