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Visiting Eindhoven and the Dommel River, The Netherlands: slower, faster and Dutch, administrative complexities

Updated on January 30, 2015
Flag of The Netherlands
Flag of The Netherlands | Source
The Dommel at Kanaalstraat in Eindhoven
The Dommel at Kanaalstraat in Eindhoven | Source
The Dommel river at Eindhoven, The Netherlands, photographed at the Anne Frank Park
The Dommel river at Eindhoven, The Netherlands, photographed at the Anne Frank Park | Source
Map location of Eindhoven, The Netherlands
Map location of Eindhoven, The Netherlands | Source

The Monarch, water board administrators and others

The Dommel is a river in Belgium and The Netherlands. Rising in Belgium's Limburg province (1), and entering the Dutch province of North Brabant (Dutch: Noord-Brabant), passing through the cities of Eindhoven and 's Hertogenbosch (yes, really!). In total, its course is 120 kilometres.

The view of the Dommel, above, at Eindhoven may not give the impression of a significant watercourse. There is, however, more to its history than meets the eye.

Records of the Dommel river go back to Roman times. It is known that, many centuries ago, the Dommel's waters flowed more quickly than they do today. Going back some centuries, it was decided that the river should be canalized, with some of its water flow being diverted.

The Dommel actually gives its name to something called in Dutch Waterschap De Dommel. So what is a 'waterschap' in Dutch? Well, its dictionary defintion in translation is somewhat complex: 'body of surveyors of the dikes' or 'jurisdiction of the water-board' (2). (We do well to be warned that, in a country, a large proportion of which lies below sea level, water board administrators rate highly in the scheme of national importance — though admittedly not attaining the protocol level of the Monarch!)

The existence of this somewhat complex word definition gives rise also to an orthographic subtlety in Dutch. 'De Dommel', when occurring in the middle of a sentence, does not necessarily refer to the water authority if the 'd' in the article 'de' occurs in the lower case. But if the upper case 'D' occurs in the article 'De' Dommel in the middle of the sentence, then this is supposed to indicate that the context refers to the water board rather than the river. (I suspect that this subtelty is not always observed, but such is the status of the water board that this is a matter of entitlement if not obligation!)

Interestingly, the powers that be in the water board known as 'De Dommel' have in recent years handed down a somewhat intriguing decision. While in past centuries, the Dommel's waters have been partly slowed and artificially diverted, these (for The Netherlands) prominent administrators have let it be known that they intend its waters to be speeded up again. Having been artificially slowed, the Dommel is now apparently destined to be artificially speeded again!

Alongside the Dommel at Eindhoven, a park named for Dutch-Jewish deportee and victim of Nazism Anne Frank (Dutch: Anne Frankplantsoen) was built. This Park contains various examples of exotic trees.

The Dommel eventually flows into the Dieze River, itself a tributary of the Maas.

March 26, 2013


(1) There is also a Dutch province of Limburg.

(2) Cassel's English-Dutch/Dutch English Dictionary, Cassel Ltd.: London / Macmillan Publishing Co., Inc., New York, 1981, p. 674.

Also worth seeing

In Eindhoven itself, visitor attractions include include the DAF museum, which traces the history of this Dutch automotive company; architecturally significant church buildings, including the Catharinakerk, and many others.


How to get there: For North American travellers making the London, England area their base, Eindhoven Airport is served by Ryanair from London Stansted Airport, by VLM from London City Airport, and by Aer Lingus from London Gatwick Airport. The Dutch railroad company NS (Nederlandse Spoorwegen) maintains rail services between Eindhoven and many Dutch destinations. There is car rental availability at Eindhoven airports. Some facilities may be withdrawn, without notice. Please check with the airline or your travel agent for up to date information.

MJFenn is an independent travel writer based in Ontario, Canada.

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