The secrets of Enschede

Written by :

Thamar Weerts

Thamar Weerts

Reading time 3-4 min

Discover Enschede

Have you always wondered what that one wall drawing, that one statue or window actually means? Thamar has been on the road and figured it out! Here are the secrets of Enschede.

Jewish school in Enschede

Enschede offers many beautiful places. We list these unique and perhaps unknown places, historical tidbits and eye-catching works of art for you. These are the secrets of Enschede!

1. The invisible window

The first special place can be found in the middle of the city center. Have you ever taken a good look at the Grote Kerk on the Oude Markt? Then you may have noticed that at the back of the church opposite the Carillon is a hidden former window. Although there are many stories to tell about the Grote Kerk, this story is a very special one.

At eye level at the rear of the Grote Kerk is a hagioscope, also called a leper window (or leprosy window). This is a small church window, originally without glass and often with a few iron or wooden bars, which gave a view of the altar. In the Middle Ages, people who had no access to the church, because they suffered from a contagious disease such as leprosy (leprosy), could receive Holy Mass and Holy Communion through this now bricked-up window. After leprosy was eliminated, the window was no longer needed and closed.

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2. In God We Trust

A very large work of art was placed in Enschede in 2018. Not everyone agreed by who or what it was and you have to look up for it, but the conservatory has a six meter high statue on their roof.


The statue was made by the artist duo Spacecowboys. The artwork was originally made for the IJssel Biennale and was initially intended to represent a God. The artwork was therefore called 'In God We Trust'. However, Rob Kramer, director of the ArtEZ Conservatory, saw this as the music god PAN. Kramer thought that the artwork could be a beautiful eye-catcher for the school building. Supposedly done, the statue moved to Enschede!

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3. Characteristic windows

Another secret spot in Enschede are the painted windows of Theater Sonnevanck. About 28 windows have been painted here.


In 1985, the then alderman for culture wanted to renovate the old warehouse. As it had been empty for some time, the building was dilapidated and the windows were missing glass. As a result, many birds had found a new home in the abandoned building and a mural of birds was initially proposed. But the artist Gerrit Kerssies came up with the proposal to provide the windows with colorful frames.

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4. Figures from theater history

You've probably seen them, the blue-green statues in front of the door and on the roof around a number of shops on Langestraat. These sculptures were created in the 1980s by artist Jawik Krudde. The building, which now houses several shops, catering establishments and the Kleine Willem, used to be a theater and concert hall. The building was built in 1889. After expansion and a new zoning plan into a cinema, the building was again renovated into a theater. By celebrating this, the municipality wanted to have an eye-catcher on the facade of the building. These were 25 statues made of polyester.


Years later, when a new theater was built and the statues were to be removed, the residents of Enschede revolted. They had become attached to the beautiful figures of theater history. To this day 25 statues live on a building with a rich history. Don't forget to look up.

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5. Only stones

You have probably walked over it often without knowing it, but on the way to the Oude Markt via the Marktstraat you walk over the remains of one of the two city gates that Enschede once had. Just take a look down when you walk this route. If you know where to look it is easy to find!

During the big city fire in Enschede in 1862, a large part of the city center burned down. In order to rearrange the city and make it more spacious, the two city gates, the Eschpoort and the Veldpoort, had to be demolished. As a souvenir, there are still stones in the Marktstraat that together form a sketch of what the gate looked like and where it stood.

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6. From recognition

The big city fire in 1862 that destroyed a large part of the city center of Enschede was already mentioned. One of the things that was destroyed was a Catholic church opposite the Grote Kerk on the Oude Markt. In 1931 a new church was built by the architects Valk and Sluijmer, this became the Jacobuskerk.


The Jacobuskerk owes its name to the patron saint Jacobus. He was one of the apostles of Jesus and is often depicted as a pilgrim. On his hat and chest he wears a pilgrim shell, also known as a scallop shell. From the twelfth century onwards this is the sign of the pilgrims who travel to Santiago de Compostella in Spain (the burial place of James). If you want to start this tour from Enschede, you start from the Jacobuskerk. It is therefore no coincidence that a pilgrim shell hangs above the entrance to the Jacobuskerk!

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7. A separation between Twente and Munster

The Enschede coat of arms can be seen on the wall of the City Hall in the city center. We all know them of course! But did you know that we used to have a different weapon and why we now have a new one and what it all means?


Enschede received city rights in 1325. One of the rights was to use a city seal. This was a seal bearing the parish saint, Saint James the Greater. This seal was in use until 1666, before a new one was added in 1670. Enschede was given a weapon with a battle gate that stood for the separation between Twente and M√ľnster. In 1819, Enschede was officially awarded the coat of arms by Royal Decree. Over the years, there have been a number of adjustments, but overall it has remained much the same.

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8. Shown in glass

You probably walked past it without looking at it, but on the side of the town hall are seven large stained glass windows. They are designed by A.J. Grootens and all portray slightly different.

The middle window is Enschede as a modern industrial city, the four windows on either side represent the four elements: water, earth, air and fire. The far left window is the old cottage industry in Twente with a picture of Herman van Lochem (the first in Enschede to use cotton as a raw material) and the far right window is the modern textile industry with a portrait of Edo Bergsma (an old mayor). The windows actually tell the story of Enschede!

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9. Simply forgotten

If you walk into the Walstraat from the Marktstraat, you may have noticed that there is something there that is certainly not from this time. There is a gate with a fairly characteristic appearance. At first it was thought that the gate was not that old at all, but nothing could be further from the truth. Research has shown that he probably descends from the 17th century. This means that the gate is one of the few remnants of the city before the big city fire in 1862. Other remnants include the Grote Kerk and the Van Deinsehuis on De Klomp.

Because the gate was always seen as a "normal" garden gate, nobody really cared about it. Fortunately, the gate has today claimed its well-deserved state. Last year the gate had a major overhaul. For example, the sandstone pillars have been anchored, a new sandstone ball has been made (one of the two was lost) and some wall parts have been plastered again. The gate has been an official municipal monument since 2019.

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10. To small

In 1667 there were already Jewish residents in Enschede. The number of Jews grew slowly in the following years. In 1748 synagogue services were held in a private house. After civil equality in 1976, the number of Jews in Enschede increased. That is why the services moved to a rented room on Walstraat. This room soon became too small and from 1834 a synagogue was opened on Stadsgravenstraat. This building was funded by the non-Jewish population. Unfortunately, the city fire of 1862 destroyed this synagogue. Thanks to donations from home and abroad, a new, larger synagogue was inaugurated in the Stadsgravenstraat in 1885. To the left of it, a Jewish school was also built.

In the second half of the 19th century and the beginning of the 20th century, the Jewish community of Enschede increased so much that a search was again made for a larger synogogue. On Thursday December 13, 1928, the beautiful synagogue on Prinsestraat was inaugurated and put into use. This building is still in use.

The synagogue on Stadsgravenstraat has been out of use since 1868. After the synagogue on the Prinsestraat was built, this synagogue was demolished, but the facade of the Jewish school still exists to this day. The building is now a municipal monument.

In 2014, the former Jewish school was given new windows made by artist Annemiek Punt. She was inspired by a text from the Torah: 'Do you choose life or do you choose death? And if you choose life, how do you do that?

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