The French philosopher René Descartes (1596–1650) once lodged at Westermarkt 6. Apparently happy that the Dutch were indifferent to his musings – and that therefore he wasn’t going to be persecuted – he wrote “Everybody except me is in business and so absorbed by profit-making that I could spend my entire life here without being noticed by a soul”. However, this declaration may itself have been a subterfuge: it’s quite possible that Descartes was spying on the Dutch for the Habsburg King Philip II of Spain, a theory explored in detail in A.C. Grayling’s book, Descartes: The Life and Times of a Genius. In the event, Descartes spent twenty years in the Netherlands before accepting an invitation from Queen Christina to go to Stockholm in 1649. It was a poor choice: no sooner had he got there, than he caught pneumonia and died.

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Netherlands features

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5 reasons why Nijmegen might just be the Netherlands' summer capital

5 reasons why Nijmegen might just be the Netherlands' summer capital

Nijmegen is a lively university city around an hour-and-a-half by train from Amsterdam. Beyond its famous Four Days Marches, it’s a fairly unassuming place a…

08 Aug 2016 • Rachel Mills insert_drive_file Article
Photos: tulip season in the Netherlands is well under way and it's gorgeous

Photos: tulip season in the Netherlands is well under way and it's gorgeous

During a trip to Keukenhof in the Netherlands, travel photographer Nori Jemil captured Holland's tulip season through her lens and the results are beautiful. H…

25 Apr 2016 • Nori Jemil insert_drive_file Article
12 things to do in Amsterdam with kids

12 things to do in Amsterdam with kids

With its canals, narrow cobbled alleys and trams, the novelty value of Amsterdam can prove entertaining enough for many kids. There’s also a whole host of att…

30 Mar 2016 • Rough Guides Editors insert_drive_file Article
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