the Netherlands

City description

Traditional but ultra-modern. Ancient yet avant-garde. Eindhoven is a vibrant regional hub for commerce, art, culture and gastronomy. What started as a minor market town in the Middle Ages is now one of the largest and most innovative cities in the Netherlands. 

This rise in prominence came largely as the result of the Philips family. In the late 1800s, Gerard and his father Frederik bought an empty factory and started to produce incandescent light bulbs. The company helped light up the Netherlands and far-flung corners of Europe, including the Tsar's Winter Palace in Saint Petersburg. Today, the multinational Dutch company's core products have shifted from lighting and home electronics to healthcare and medical technology. As for the original factory, that is now the Philips Museum. As a further testament to this brand’s clout in the city, the local football team, PSV (Philips Sports Vereniging) Eindhoven, plays in Philips Stadion, which is on the edge of Philipsdorp (Philips Village).

However, Eindhoven isn’t a one-company town – especially since Philips moved its headquarters to Amsterdam, and manufacturing went overseas in the early 1990s. Like many cities in Europe, Eindhoven has had to evolve in order to survive and grow. The results have been a boon for the city, giving it a new cachet. The former Philips factories and offices have been converted to the hip Strijp-S district, known for its art, dining and shopping. The annual Dutch Design Week in October draws roughly 300,000 visitors, more than doubling the local population of 230,000. To cope with the heavy bike traffic between the city centre and Velhoven, a suburb to the southwest, the municipality built the Hovenring – the world’s first suspended roundabout for cyclists. Eindhoven University of Technology is the brains behind the Brainport Smart District, an ‘incubator for the society of tomorrow’, and the world’s first habitable 3D-printed concrete homes. The deputy mayor for housing, districts and participation proudly calls his city a place for ‘the nerds and the hippies’. 

It's little wonder that Eindhoven is making a name for itself as a sustainable, progressive and cosmopolitan city. That, in turn, has attracted newcomers. About 23% of the Netherlands' population comprises first- and second-generation immigrants, according to the Dutch statistics office CBS. But in Eindhoven, 34% of residents weren't born in the Netherlands, or had a non-Dutch parent. There’s a wealth of international restaurants to be found here, from authentic Chinese noodle bars to traditional pub fare and upscale French cuisine. Just a few minutes’ walk from Pullman Eindhoven Cocagne is the 225m-long Stratumseind, dubbed ‘the longest pub street in the Netherlands’.

Eindhoven is future-focused, yet it honours its past. WWII bombs destroyed many of the city’s historic buildings, but a few notable structures remain. A 10-minute bike ride from Pullman Eindhoven Cocagne is the Genneper Watermill. This national heritage monument on the Dommel River has been a subject for several artists, including Vincent Van Gogh. Speaking of the master painter, head to nearby Nuenen for an off-the-beaten-path experience. A quarter of his oeuvre was produced in the town. At Van Gogh Village Nuenen, the indoor museum explores his life, while an outdoor walking/biking tour highlights 23 locations important in his life or his artistry. When you go, be sure to stay until evening, as a 600m section of the bike path is embedded with photosensitive pebbles in the pattern of arguably his most famous painting, ‘The Starry Night‘.    

In a city that has had to invent and reinvent itself, there is no lack of pioneering architecture and smart technology – yet it is interspersed with the timeless appeal of a rich history. Eindhoven well deserves its reputation as one of Europe’s most sustainable, progressive and innovative cities.
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