Oudewater – find out if you are a witch or not

Pretty places

Oudewater

Oudewater is a beautiful little city with a monumental centre near to Utrecht. We visited this place on a sunny but cold morning.

While walking around in Oudewater it feels as if time stood still. The centre has loads of old houses with the most beautiful facades. A canal runs through the centre of this town. The canal houses built direct at the waterside look amazing and combined with the little bridges crossing the canal makes Oudewater look like a village from a fairy tale.Oudewater 2

Are you a witch?

Besides being a beautiful city, Oudewater is known for its Witches Weighhouse (Heksenwaag). Paying a visit to the weigh house is a must-do in Oudewater. Here you can have yourself weighed to check whether you are a witch or not. Although this is just for fun nowadays, a few centuries ago your life depended on it as you could end up being burnt at the stake.

Searching for a scapegoat

In the old days a lot of things happened that could not be explained. Things like the plague, other illnesses, fires or extreme weather conditions. As it could not be explained, people searched for a scapegoat, to blame for their misfortune. Especially women were accused, as one thought they might be witches. The common thought was those witches ‘closed a deal with the devil’. If you were accused of being a witch – and you could be accused by anyone – you had a huge problem, because in those times you had to prove you were innocent.

Many women drowned

As witches hardly weigh anything (otherwise they could not fly on their broom), there were two ways of proving you were not a witch. The first one was having yourself thrown into the water. Handcuffed! If you sank, you proved you were not a witch. Unfortunately most alleged witches drowned during this test.

Oudewater 4Weighing procedure

Having yourself weighed was the second way to prove your innocence. However, this was difficult as well. First of all the weighing procedure was expensive. Even if you had the money to pay for it, a lot of weighing procedures were unfair. Of all the places in Europe where you could have yourself weighed, only the city of Oudewater received the privilege for an honest weighing process, granted by emperor Charles V.

Have yourself weighed

During the Oudewater witch weighing procedure there were several people present to see to a fair weighing  process. After weighing, you received an official certificate, stating you were not a witch. Well, in Oudewater no one was ever condemned to being a witch. You can visit the Heksenwaag and have yourself weighed. After that, you receive an official certificate stating you are not a witch. This may be useful in case you have an argument with your spouse!

Find more information on their website www.heksenwaag.nl.

Oudewater 3Best terrace 2016

During the summer months life is good on the square of Oudewater. Opposite the Heksenwaag it is loaded with terraces. As we visited on a cold winter’s day, we decided to have a drink inside café Lumiere. It is located opposite the Heksenwaag as well. They have a great menu for lunch and dinner. The atmosphere in Lumiere is unique. Most of the interior and decor pieces come from an old church, which gives this café its beautiful appearance. In 2016 the café has been elected ‘best terrace 2016’ in Holland.

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