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. They remind me of a modern version of Harry Potter stairways. 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 The Forum.


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 tall. The 260 stairs (mostly spiral) inside the tower are very narrow and a thick rope in the center acts as a vertical banister. I climbed the tower and got some nice views of the city and The 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.

The first time I tried to ring the bell I held on to the rope, pulled down, and after a few pulls the weight of the bell would pick me off the floor. I could not make the bell ring. On the second trip I tried the same technique and the attendant chuckled at me. He said that this technique is used in movies but does not work. You must pull down on the rope as far as you can and then let go until it finishes going up and starts coming back down. When the rope is on the way down, grab it, pull it down as far as possible, and continue this process. After 5-6 pulls the bell should ring. You can then grab the rope, hold on, and get lifted into the air to slow the bell. The bell probably pulled me about 4′ into the air.

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