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Delft & Royal Delft with tile workshop

Delft & Royal Delft with tile workshop, The Netherlands

Spend the day strolling the streets of Delft, a city with strong roots in the Dutch Golden Age, best known for its intricate white and blue Delft pottery. After visiting the photogenic old town on a walking tour, you’ll head to the Royal Delft factory, learn how this renowned craft is done and paint your own tile to take home with you.

You’ll start in Delft, where your local guide will show you around the well-preserved old town. Pass the red-shuttered city hall and the town’s major churches — the massive Nieuwe Kerk and the visibly leaning tower of the Oude Kerk — along the town’s canals and shady cobblestone streets.

Afterward, head to the Royal Delft factory to learn about the history and craftsmanship behind Delftware pottery and its signature blue decorations. In a one-hour workshop, you’ll also get to paint your own tile with Delft Blue paint, and take it home with you in a frame.

Your driver will pick you up at your hotel in the Hague and take you to Delft, a city with a well-preserved medieval old town, a royal history and some of the world’s best-known pottery.

You’ll begin your day with a walking tour of the old town with a local guide. Home to the Dutch Master painter Johannes Vermeer, the city’s heart has changed little since he lived and painted here in the 17th century. The characteristically Dutch canals were dug in the 15th century, after which Delft became a trading hub, making it a major player in the Dutch Golden Age.

In the old town, you’ll see the grand city hall. The tall belfry is from the 1300s, but the Renaissance front of the building, with its red shutters and gilded ornamentation, is from the early 1600s. It looms over the central Markt, but not as much as the Nieuwe Kerk, the church on the opposite end of the square, whose monumental belfry stretches 108 m (356 ft) into the sky. The church is the burial site for the royal House of Orange-Nassau, most recently Queen Juliana and her husband Prince Bernhard, entombed in 2004. Nearby is Oude Kerk, the old church, familiar to locals and tourists alike for its tall brick tower, which leans significantly to one side.

You can find lunch in the city’s lively streets or various market squares, then you’ll head to Royal Delft, the factory that has created the trademark Delftware pottery since the 17th century. The familiar white porcelain with intricate blue designs is made by painting with a cobalt oxide ink, which turns blue when the piece is fired before glazing. Royal Delft’s factory now includes a museum, where you’ll start your tour. You’ll see films describing the history of Delftware, then visit a small workshop where some of the painters will be at work. The factory floor itself is part of the experience, after which you’ll see the current exhibition of pottery.

When you’re done exploring, your guide will leave you to your tile-painting workshop. For an hour, the master craftspeople at Royal Delft will show you the technique for painting, giving you a chance to either copy a traditional design or create your own. Since it takes 24 hours of firing to develop the Delft Blue hue, you’ll instead use blue paint to start with, so you can take the tile home with you afterward.

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