Video: Royal Delft Pottery

Delft lies on the Delftsche Schie with the old part of town ringed by canals. In the 17th century, the town’s canal water became tainted, leading to a decline from 200 breweries to 20. In 1654, the “Thunderclap”, an accidental gunpowder explosion leveled half the town and killed hundreds.

But Delft quickly rebounded, thanks to riches the city amassed as the headquarters of the Dutch East India Company. The porcelains brought back by their traders from the Far East proved irresistible, and in 1645, De Porceleyne Fles started making and exporting the blue and-white earthenware that was to make the town famous.

Civil war in China had dried up the source for porcelains, and Delft potters leaped in and created the blue faience that soon became known as Delft Blue. The manufacture of Delft ware, which was world-famed from the 17th to the mid-18th century, has recently been revived. Delft was the birthplace of the scholar and statesman Hugo de Groot, the painter Jan Vermeer, whose “View of Delft” is in the Mauritshuis in The Hague, and the scientist Antoni van Leeuwenhoek who mastered the fledging invention of the microscope.

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