Groningen: Martinitoren & Forum

The old and new meet, quite literally, at Forum Groningen and Martinitoren Church. These two buildings could not be more different and they lie only a few steps from one another. To me, they represent the traditional and the modern that defines the city of Groningen.

Forum Groningen is an ulta-modern building that contains a library, media area, study areas, a rooftop café, tourist information, and gift shop. The building has 10 levels but looks to be about 40 stories tall. The rooftop offers spectacular views of the area. The building looks like someone took a 40-story rock square and then sliced the sides and different angles with a giant light saber. This is a masterpiece of modern architecture and estetics.

Inside, very long escalators crisscross the massive open-air space. The inside of the building is very impressive but the view from the rooftop is spectacular. The rooftop offers amazing 360° views of the city and surrounding areas. The view of the Martinitoren Church and Tower is particularly impressive. If you visit Groningen then you simply must visit this building.


Right next to Forum Groningen is Martinitoren, or the Martini Church, or Marinikerk, or Saint Martin’s. This is the oldest church in Groningen and building of the Tower started in 1469. The Tower is about 97 meters in height. The 260 stairs up the tower were very narrow and a thick rope in the center acts as a vertical banister. I ascended the tower of the Martini Church and got some nice views of the city and Forum. The climb to the top is a worth the effort.

From the top of the tower you look down upon the roof of Forum Groningen. The massive bells in the tower are truly impressive. At different points in the tower you can see the bells from both below and above. At the lower level you can actually grab a rope and try to ring one of the bells. When I tried ringing the bell I was pulled in the air by the rope (probably 5-6′) but I could not get the bell to ring. Either I needed more weight or I did not have the proper bell ringing technique. It was very fun attempting to ring the bell.

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