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

The latest articles, galleries, quizzes and videos.

An expert's guide: the best area to stay in Amsterdam

An expert's guide: the best area to stay in Amsterdam

Almost 50 years after John Lennon and Yoko Ono promoted world peace from room 702 of the Hilton, Amsterdam’s hotels are more worthy of the spotlight than ev…

26 Apr 2018 • Rough Guides Editors insert_drive_file Article
Leeuwarden: the coolest Dutch city you’ve never heard of

Leeuwarden: the coolest Dutch city you’ve never heard of

By nature of its design, there is something immutable about Leeuwarden, the capital of Friesland in the Netherlands’ northwesternmost province. Hemmed in by h…

20 Feb 2018 • Mike MacEacheran insert_drive_file Article
7 Dutch cities to explore beyond Amsterdam

7 Dutch cities to explore beyond Amsterdam

Amsterdam — with its museums, gabled Golden Age houses and network of historic canals — is a sure bet for a weekend break. But it's not all the Netherlands…

20 Feb 2018 • Stuart Forster insert_drive_file Article
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