Arnhems Labyrint: a hidden gem
Lose yourself in Arnhems Labyrint
With the splendour of the grand city parks Sonsbeek and Zijpendaal within walking distance ofArnhem’s city centre, one could easily overlook the smaller hidden gems that lie hidden throughout this city.One of them is located just off Amsterdamse Weg, near Villa Rosorum. It’s a plot of land, calledAmsterdamse Veld, that was mainly used by local residents for walking the dog. I know, because Iused to walk my dog there every day and take part in the social gathering of dog walkers, boastingabout dog fetching skills, agonizing over aging pets, and getting all ecstatic over cute puppies. Thereis a swing and a skating track, that used to be littered with empty crisp bags and juice cartons. It wasall right for walking the dog, but a bit, well… drab. Not anymore.
A feast of colour
Since its official opening on August 30th 2015, this plot of land boasts a genuine labyrinth; theArnhems Labyrint. You may not see it right away when you enter the field from the main entrance onAmsterdamse Weg, but simply follow the track along the football field and it will reveal itself in all itsbeauty. And beautiful it is, this summer.
The colours of the many plants and flowers the ArnhemsLabyrint is made up of are particularly entrancing on a sunny day. But even in murky weather there isa lot to enjoy. The initiative for the realization of this labyrinth came from local residents AntoinetteKulmann and Wil Groen. Antoinette was one of these people who had the habit of walking her dogthere. As she says on her website, during one of her walks she felt a certain need for a place ofpeace and contemplation and envisioned a labyrinth of flowers and plants to the path where shewas walking. The idea got stuck and would not leave. It led to talks with the Arnhem council, whothought it a good idea, and it all developed from there. Wijkplatform Arnhem West provided thefunds and people from the neighborhood pitched in and made it happen. The beauty of it is evenenhanced by the newly made labyrinth of wildflowers which lies right next to it. The wealth of blue,white and yellow among the green grass is simply breathtaking and guaranteed to put you in a goodmood.
A word of warning: if you go in, the path the labyrinth invites you to follow will take ay leastfifteen minutes before you have reached its centre, and the way back will take at least as long. Ofcourse you can hop over the rows and be done with it, but that, of course, is not what the ArnhemsLabyrint was made for.
Over 70 plants, blooms and grasses
Of course you could enjoy it simply for its greenery. The labyrint boasts over 70 plants, blooms andgrasses, rare as well as common, some of them with healing powers. Their names are written onsmall wooden plaques, including their Latin names and numbers corresponding with pictures on theArnhems Labyrint’s website, where you may find more information oneach particular plant. (There is also lots of information to be found of it’s realization, the history andsignificance of labyrinths, tips and tricks about how to enhance your experience walking it, and lots more.)
But you can also walk the labyrinth when in search for inner peace, use it for meditation,contemplation. On an information board right next to it you’ll read how it’s done. First stand still andfocus on your inner thoughts. Then you start walking. Walk slowly, be aware of every step you take,let go of your thoughts. On the way in -that is, on your way to the centre- you’re invited to let go ofeverything you wish to leave behind your sorrows, anger, grief, to make room for new experiencesand to come closer to the centre of your being. After 333 metres you will have arrived at thelabyrinth’s centre, where you’ll pause, before taking whatever you’ve experienced with you on theway back.
Don’t worry, you won’t get lost
You cannot get lost in a labyrinth. In contrast to a maze, a labyrinth is unicursal: there is only one paththat will inevitably lead to the labyrinth’s heart and back out of it. You could see it as a symbol ofyour road of life. Sometimes during your walk, you’ll get the feeling of being nearly there, only to findthe next moment that you’re further away from the centre than ever. The ‘trick’ is to just surrenderto where the path leads you, to just wander along, go with the curves, to literally just `stop and smellthe flowers’.
My daughter and I tried out the labyrinth back in November. At the time we had double glazing fittedand for a week our house was overrun by glass fitters and painters, in other words: chaos ruled, not asafe place anywhere in the house. Easily distracted as both my daughter and I are, we are not readilygiven to contemplation and inner silence. But during our walk, we enjoyed the surprises the path hadin store for us, the unpredictability of its windings, and of course reading the Latin names of theplants bordering the path. Even in november the Labyrinth is a thing of beauty. It took us surprisinglylong to find our way in and out again. But we left it refreshed and yes, dare I say it? – energized. Itmight just work that way for you as well. Or it might not. But whatever your mindset may be, you’llenjoy its colours and its shape. So whenever you find yourself on Amsterdamse Weg, do stop by andbe surprised by the Arnhems Labyrint.
Blog and photo’s by; Josée Westrik
Since its official opening on August 30th 2015, this plot of land boasts a genuine labyrinth; the