Welcome at the Diepenring, the canal belt of Groningen and an inspiring meeting place for passionate people for centuries. Get to know the canals, the people and yourself (better) with the Diepenring Kompas (Compass).

The Compass is a tool for a do-it-yourself walk along the Diepenring. Aletta Jacobs, Wubbo Ockels, Kim Feenstra, Pim Fortuyn and Beyoncé. And also Janine Abbring, Arjen Robben, Bono, Herman Brood and Ali B. They and many other passionate citizens of the world have left their traces there. Search and be inspired.

Go with others or walk alone. Use the numbered destinations to plan a route. Then let yourself be carried away by the accompanying life stories and life questions. Determine your own position and discuss it with others. Finally, think about what you want to take with you and leave behind.

Start the route anywhere along the Diepenring. Choose your direction, start the walk and follow the water. At a normal pace you can be back in one hour. Get excited, it can take longer. As a rule of thumb, immerse yourself in 7 plus or minus 2 topics. You can always come back another time.

Use the Gids (Guide) if you are looking for help when planning a route. Read the Bronnen (Sources) for more in-depth knowledge after the walk. Refer to the Toeverlaat (Anchor) if you want to know who have contributed to the Kompas. All information can be found on

In 1894, architect Hendrik Berlage builds a house and laboratory at 108 Ubbo Emmiusingel for psychologist Gerard Heymans. Curious about the differences between people the psychologist wants to be able to observe and measure behaviour accurately. With the Kubus (Cube) he formulates the first theory of personality. Heymans thus describes people with 3 characteristics: the degrees of activity, emotionality and persistence of impressions. His work is at the root of the now widely supported Big Five that distinguishes the (5) characteristics of extroversion, friendliness, accuracy, stability and openness.

How would you describe your personality?

The villa at 110 Ubbo Emmiussingel owes its name to Geertruida Tavenier, who has been managing sister of the Diaconessenhuis (Deaconess Hospital) since 1919. Because of her drive for expansion, she is known as a ‘construction sister’. She expands the Protestant hospital from 30 to 400 beds. The purchase of the villa in 1948 and the renovation until maternity hospital are her last milestones before she retires in 1949. Because of her long service to vulnerable people, the hospital and God, the villa is baptised ‘Huize Tavenier’. Until the relocation to the south of Groningen in 1981 30,000 children are safely put into the world. Since 1991, the sisters and managers (M/F) are serving the patients of the Martini Ziekenhuis (Hospital).

Who are you serving?

Crossing the Atlantic is part of the exhibition In Search of the Miraculous which will take place late 1975 in the (old) Groninger Museum at 59 Praediniussingel. Artist Bas Jan Ader, known for video performances in which he falls from trees and cycles into canals, on July 9 departs from Cape Cod on the American east coast in his Ocean Wave. The only 4 meter long sailing boat is found empty and half sunk off the Irish coast 9 months after departure. The exhibition has since been canceled. Up to this day there is no trace of Bas Jan.

What are you looking for in life?

Aletta Jacobs from Sappemeer wants to become a doctor just like her father. The intention leads to fierce discussions in her family, the national press and politics. After permission from Minister Thorbecke, she is ‘allowed’ to go to university and in 1874 she passes her bachelor’s degree. She is then ready for practice and starts working in the (old) university hospital on the corner of Schuitemakersstraat and Munnekeholm. Two blocks away, she moves into a room above Jan Fokkens’ carpentry workshop at 23 Turftorenstraat. She is now completely on her own two feet and passes her medical exam in 1878. As the first woman in the Netherlands. Non sine laude.

What is normal to you, but not (yet) to others?

In 1969 a student from Barger-Compascuum falls under the spell of Shocking Blue during the introduction week. In the Harmonie on Oude Kijk in ’t Jatstraat, first-year student Ben Feringa sees the plaster falling from the ceiling decorated with angels. Is it the composition of guitarist Robbie van Leeuwen, the appearance of singer Mariska Veres or the chemistry of the band? Six months later, their Venus reaches the highest position in the American charts. Almost half a century later, Ben reaches the top when he wins the Nobel Prize in Chemistry on December 10, 2016. The Harmonie is demolished in 1973 under loud protest. De Oosterpoort takes over as a leading cultural center.

Do you want to become the best at something?

The quest of Jozef van den Berg begins in 1976 when he has a theater tent made by Anneke van Gelder at 33 Hoge der A with a 25,000 guilder subsidy from the province of Groningen. In search of a miracle, he travels from Jozef’s Poppenkelder (Doll Cellar) at 12 Zwanestraat with his play dolls annex alter egos into the wide world. On September 14, 1989, he is in the Rode zaal (Red Hall) of the Singel in Antwerp. I no longer seek because I have been found by God. With this message, Jozef steps off the stage, stops working as a theater maker and finds peace as a hermit in a self-built chapel along the Waal.

Where you find peace of mind?

After a turbulent life as a captain on the oceans and a soldier for Napoleon, Geert Boomgaard wants to enjoy his old age in peace. At the age of 75, he moves into the Jacob and Annagasthuis, which is known as a ‘delicacy guesthouse’ due to its good care. He celebrates several anniversaries at 26 Gasthuisstraat. With a birth certificate from 1788, he is officially the first 110-year-old in the world on September 21, 1898. His parents, a younger brother and sister, 2 wives and 12 children have already died, but Geert is in good physical and mental health.

What does your old age look like?

On Tuesday, June 19, 2018, the Prinsentuin (Prince’s Garden) seems to be the ideal place for a meeting with Queen B. Two months after her already legendary performances at Coachella and a year after the birth of her twins, she could have refueled on Turfsingel. Just like Queen Máxima who visits the new UMC Groningen Proton Center on this day, a stone’s throw from the royal rose garden. It is her first public appearance after the death of her sister Inès. Also for princesses Amalia van Oranje-Nassau, and Rosa and Mitzi Passchier the peacefulness of the garden today would be the ultimate benefit. Yet Beyoncé and her 4 fellow fighters choose the Amsterdam Arena. The press is unanimous in praise of the meeting. “Love filled the stadium […] explosively, smashing, penetrating and full of surrender.”

What gives you energy?

’t Het nog nooit zo donker west (It has never been so dark before) was voted Ede Staal’s most beautiful song in 2017. For a long time the English teacher did not seem to be interested in singing in Gronings. But when he repeatedly interferes with the recordings of regional language singer Lianne Abeln in Radio Noord’s studio at 23 Martinikerkhof, he is encouraged by head of music Engbert Gruben to ‘come and record something yourself if you know it all so well’. After a jingle for the program Mien Toentje (My Tiny Garden), he got the hang of it. Only two albums Ede makes before his untimely death on July 22, 1986. He is 44 years old. Fortunately, the songs of the ‘Jacques Brel’ of the North Netherlands soften ‘Gronings’ suffering.

In what do you find consolation?

Under the title ‘Story Telling’ Isabel Allende presents her Van der Leeuw Lecture on 30 May 2002 in the Martinikerk on Sint Jansstraat. As a journalist, she says she has been brutally put on the path of literature by poet and Nobel Prize winner Pablo Neruda. He does not want to be interviewed because he thinks her writings are coloured too personally. He advises her to start writing novels. After her debut The House of the Spirits, Isabel is degraded by some critics as a ‘storyteller’ because of her alleged women’s issues. She decides to wear it as a badge of honor and this time to continue on the path taken.

What stories do others tell about you?

Until the Iconoclasm, the forearm of John the Baptist is said to be located in the Martinikerk on Sint Jansstraat. People come from far and wide to worship the relic. On St. Jacobs Day (July 25) 1405, master Albert Solleder and his father Berneer declare that ‘miserable poor’ pilgrims can stay 2 to 3 nights for free at 22 Peperstraat from now on. With the charity of their Sint Geertruidsgasthuis, the wealthy Catholic family hopes to secure a good place in the afterlife. We now know from psychological research that helping others in the here and now also contributes to the happiness of the helpers.

Who do you help, and why?

After studying Law in Amsterdam, Herman Pieter Schönfeld Wichers does not yet know what he wants with his life. For inspiration, he undertakes a hike to Rome in 1933. On the way he stays overnight with farmers and draws portraits of their daughters and wives in exchange. Later he will describe his adventures in De zwerftocht van Belcampo (The Ramble of Belcampo). In the Netherlands he continues his search with a study of Medicine. Eventually Herman Pieter becomes a student doctor at 31 Schuitendiep. But as Belcampo, above all, the writer of fantastic stories such as Het grote gebeuren (The Great Event) in which he has the four horsemen of the Apocalypse visit his hometown Rijssen.

How do you know what you want to become?

In the 70’s Groningen dearly loves Herman Brood. And vice versa. The basis for his fame lies in a squatted gambling hall on Gedempte Kattendiep, where he practices with his band Wild Romance and writes the successful album Sphritz. They also play in De Kattebak (at no. 23). In the 90’s Herman returns as a painter with a studio above coffee shop De Tevreden Rookster. In the City Hotel (No. 21) in 1996 people are totally fed up with the ‘rock’ n roll junkie ‘. When Herman’s room, after a wild night at the Holland Casino (no. 150), turns out to be stained with blood and drugs, he is evicted. That year more compassion is shown in Villa Velderhof. On Dutch television, Major Boschhart of the Salvation Army lovingly puts the ‘knuffeljunkie (cuddle junkie)’ to bed, reads him a story and gives him a night kiss.

Who loves you unconditionally?

Adventurer Hennie Bolhuis writes to his brother Klaas that he is on his way back to Groningen. While ‘handsome’ Hennie travels through Europe as a pastry chef and chases after women, ‘cautious’ Klaas has taken over their parents’ grocery store at 34 Steentilstraat. When Klaas receives a suitcase from the Southampton shipping company White Star on 22 July 1912, it becomes clear that he will never see his brother again. Hennie appears to have taken on a fateful last job as a ship’s cook. On the night of April 14 to 15, he drowns in the Atlantic Ocean along with 1,521 other crew members of the deemed unsinkable Titanic.

Are you going on an adventure or do you opt for safety?

In March 2002, Pim Fortuyn publishes the book De puinhopen van acht jaar Paars (The Wreckage of Eight Years of Purple) in which he declares the politics of liberals and social democrats (VVD, D66 and PvdA) bankrupt. Before he puts populism on the map from Palazzo di Pietro with political parties Leefbaar Nederland and the Lijst Pim Fortuyn, for 15 years he lives in an apartment at 41d Radesingel. In Groningen he works as a lecturer at faculteit Sociologie (Faculty of Sociology), and as a communist (CPN) he enters the political arena. On May 6, 2002, he pays the highest price for his drive when he is shot dead in Hilversum at the Media Park by extremist Folkert van der Graaf.

Which politics do you advocate?

Grandpa Louis is the inventor of Solutie tire glue and the Simson tire repair kit. In 1912, the entrepreneur sells his house and factory at 31 Ubbo Emmiussingel to try his luck in Amsterdam. There, father Leo is increasingly concerned about the growing hatred of Jews. For safety, in 1939, grandson Hans Wijnberg is sent to New York. There he is recruited as a spy and sent back to Europe to lead the liberation of Innsbruck. After the war, Hans discovers that his father, mother and brother died in Auschwitz. With his appointment as professor of Chemistry in 1960, he returns to the birthplace of his father and grandfather, and to Groningen, where the majority of the 2,800 Jewish residents of the city died in concentration camps.

What journey have you and your family taken?

Everything flows. At the Diepenring, people get carried away and lose track of time. Why? Because they only do what they like to do, what they are talented at and what they want to become better at.

What puts you in the flow?

At the Diepenring you will find architects, artists, astronauts, bakers, builders, comedians, coaches, composers, designers, directors, doctors, entrepreneurs, inventors, judges, football players, labourers, models, nurses, pensioners, photographers, policemen, politicians, runners, scientists, sailors, singers, teachers and writers (M/F).

What is your dream profession?

Since 2010, Paul Passchier (Tweelinck) has been walking with teams and individuals along the Diepenring for the Drijfverenwandeling (Motivation Walk). In 2020, the restrictive measures of the corona crisis brought the inspiration to release the Compass as a do-it- yourself tool.

Which crisis has inspired you?

Just like The A-Team, The D-Team of the Diepenring has all the required ‘dexterities’: physical (Beyoncé and Wubbo Ockels), intellectual (Isabel Allende and Ben Feringa), social-emotional (Kim Feenstra and Ali B) and spiritual (Arjen Robben and Aletta Jacobs).

What is your dream team?

At the end of the 1970s, a young photographer from Groningen travels the world. On Saturday April 8, 2000, Anton Corbijn is back for the opening of his exhibition 25 jaar werk (25 years of work). In the Groninger Museum he welcomes singer Bono from U2 as a special guest. The band has been using Anton’s services for two decades. Because of the iconic images and the personal involvement, the members feel completely at ease with him. In the words of Bono, “He can let us be who we are, and he can challenge us to be who we are not. Not yet”.

Who helps you with your personal development?

In 1985, from the spaceship Space Challenger, astronaut Wubbo Ockels observes the thinness of our atmosphere and therefore the vulnerability of our planet. With his sailing ship Ecolution he visits the 25 Zuiderhaven years later, on Friday 13 August. He returns to the club where he learned to row in his youth. At the new clubhouse of De Hunze he has his self-built ship baptised. With the Nuna solar cars, the Ladder Mill, the Superbus, De Groene Grachten (The Green Canals) and the ‘Final Speech’ video, the ‘zero-emission’ boat is one of his many practical ideas for a sustainable future.

What does sustainability mean to you?

In 2013, the arrival of the Bishop of Myra in the Zuiderhaven is broadcast live on Dutch television. Sinterklaas is assisted by comedians Erik van Muiswinkel and Jochem Meyer as black faced Zwarte Pieten. At that time there are no public polemics yet about the Dutch involvement in slavery. However in 1979 it was already the subject on which Jozef Siwpersad obtained his PhD at the Instituut voor Geschiedenis (Institute for History) at 13 Heresingel. It is mentioned in Sporen van het slavernijverleden (Traces of the slavery past) in Groningen by Margriet Fokken and Barbara Henkes from 2016. Also from their book it can also be concluded that many people at the Diepenring have profited from people who have been enslaved in the Dutch colonies.

How do you want to earn your money?

When his printing company went bankrupt in 1923, H.N. Werkman returned to a warehouse at 13 Lage der A, where he began to experiment with printing materials and templates. Instead of birth announcements and club newspapers, he produces free work such as the Hot Printing series and The Next Call magazine. During the Second World War he becomes involved with the underground magazine De Blauwe Schuit (The Blue Barge) of reverend August Henkels for whom he illustrates the Jewish Chassidische Legenden (Hasidic Legends). On March 13, 1945, both men are arrested by the Sichterheitsdienst. While August is released, Hendrik Nicolaas is executed in the Frisian town of Bakkeveen. Three days before the liberation of Groningen by the Scottish and Canadian Allied Forces.

What does freedom mean to you?

After a night out, 19-year-old law student Wytze Pennink hits the water in the early morning of October 7, 2016. His body is found a few days later in the Lopende Diep near the Kijk in ’t Jat bridge. In collaboration with the municipality of Groningen, his friends place a memorial bench on the quay. This has created a place of remembrance at the Diepenring for all people who passed away too early. This writer thinks of Jacob Tuil (Sneek, April 28, 1963 – October 27, 1984).

Who are you thinking about?

In summary proceedings initiated by the Frisian band De Kast, the Groningen District Court at 1 Guyotplein on January 30, 2001 decides in favour of Philosophy student Arjen Lubach and RTV Noord reporter Janine Abbring. Their parody of Stan from Eminem feat. Dido can be released as usual. The song Jelle, about a fan obsessed with De Kast singer Syb van der Ploeg, is a big hit. Slimme Schermer feat. Tido is the first encounter with a creative duo that will continue to successfully combine news, opinion forming and humor. Such as with Newsnight in the Groninger Forum and Zondag met Lubach on Dutch television.

Who do you enjoy working with?

Two months after she wins the finals of Holland’s Next Top Model, the 21-year-old Kim Feenstra is summoned to court at 1 Guyotplein. As an escort, she has stolen a debit card from a disabled man with which she withdraws 500 euros. It is the first of a series of revelations from which it can be deduced that Kim did not have a dream childhood. As the oldest child in an unstable family, she has to stand on her own two feet. Given her successful career as a model, actress and photographer, she is getting better and better. In doing so, she shows herself to be a role model. In March 2018 she lets the youth of the Dream School program experience that despite a ‘fucked up’ youth you can still achieve something that you are proud of. On October 17, 2020, she will give birth to her first child, son Brooklyn.

What lessons from your childhood do you pass on?

When Professor Ben Feringa wins the Nobel Prize in Chemistry in 2016, his lectures outside the university find an even wider audience. Ben proves to be an inspiring and inspired speaker who conquers audiences in the Martinikerk, De Oosterpoort and the Stadschouwburg and viewers of College Tour and De Wereld Draait Door on Dutch television. With his inventions such as the molecular nano-car, but also with his sources of inspiration, including his father Geert Feringa, his teacher Hans Wijnberg and professor Sibrandus Stratingh. The latter develops the world’s first electrically powered mini-car at 5 Ossenmarkt in 1750.

Who inspires you?

Before W.F. Hermans moves to Groningen, he is involved in a lawsuit about the novel Ik heb altijd gelijk (I am always right) (he wins). The years in the upstairs apartment at 17a Spilsluizen are very productive. In addition to his work as assistant professor of Physical Geography, he writes De donkere kamer van (The Darkroom of) Damocles and Nooit meer slapen (Beyond Sleep). He also continues to battle. With landlord Sijne Barend Hooghoudt about the storage of his bicycle (he loses) and with the university about his dedication to education (he wins). Willem Frederik leaves with a hefty lump sum and the vengeful inspiration for Onder professoren (Among Professors), the key novel in which he degrades his colleagues as jealous and narrow-minded provincials.

Do you like the fight or do you prefer harmony?

Comedian Freek de Jonge celebrates his first successes with fellow student Bram Vermeulen. The animated and noisy performances as Neerlands Hoop shake theaters to their foundations. These include Het Tehuis (’71 -’72) and the Stadsschouwburg (’74). In De Oosterpoort (’77 -’79) they announce the end of their collaboration on September 25, 1979. After a painful break with Bram, Freek goes solo. Or so it seems. Behind the scenes he is helped by his wife, artist Hella Asser. Over the years, they increasingly come out together. On February 7, 2018 together with more than 4,000 Groningers, they walk along the Diepenring for a torchlight procession against gas extraction. Six months later they are in the Groninger Museum with their creative collaboration and Het Volle Leven (The Full Life).

Who is your support?

Football player Arjen Robben likes to show his skills on large stages. If in 2007 you are on your way to Estadio Santiago Bernabéu after the Oosterpark Stadium (F.C. Groningen), the Philips Stadium (PSV) and Stamford Bridge (Chelsea) with a contract for Real Madrid, then you do not want to marry in the backroom. On Saturday, June 9, Arjen and his childhood sweetheart Bernadien Eillert give each other a yes at 86 Turfsingel. For the gathered family and friends in the Stadsschouwburg and thousands of fans outside. In 2020, after 10 successful years in the Allianz Arena (Bayern München), he also wants to conquer the Euroborg and makes his return to F.C. Groningen at the age of 36.

Do you like to be in the spotlight?

After a frivolous life in Amsterdam, Ruurd Passchier finds work in Nicolaas Oortman ’s chicory factory on Damsterdiep. When fired by the manufacturer in winter, the destitute worker goes on a raid. One person is killed, Ruurd is arrested by the police and then sentenced to death by a judge. The fallen Huguenot then consults a few ministers, reconnects with God and decides to set himself as an example. ‘Oh people, learn from me’, he tells the large numbers of people at the Hofplein in Leeuwarden on October 16, 1847, ‘leave the bad and do the good’, before the noose goes around his neck.

Do you regret something?

In 1966 Rem Koolhaas visits the Spilsluizen as a journalist to interview W.F. Hermans. In the 1980’s he returns as an architect. After the international breakthrough with his book Delirious New York about the ‘compact city’, visionary councillor for Economic Affairs Ypke Gietema asks him to realise the first high-rise buildings at the Diepenring. In addition to these flats on De Brink, he designs Video Bus Stop (Emmaplein), a public toilet ( Reitemakersreige ) and the contours of the Provinciehuis (Turfsingel). He is also in the spotlight for the Groninger Museum, but that honour ultimately goes to Alessandro Mendini.

Do you see yourself as a visionary, builder or connector?

Labelled A tribute to diversity, in 2003 a colourful group of artists visits Dutch theaters. The initiative of singer Leonie Jansen is a reaction to the discord after 9/11 and the murder of Pim Fortuyn. On Wednesday, October 8, the one of the highlights in De Oosterpoort at Trompsingel 27 is a young Moroccan rapper in a yellow tracksuit. Inspired by the book The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People by Stephen Covey he demonstrates provocative and humorous how different cultures can be brought together. It is the first encounter with the then 22-year-old Ali B. Four years later his definitive breakthrough is Op volle toeren (At Full Capacity) on Dutch television in which he seduces white and black artists to sing each other’s songs.

Who would you like to connect with more?

In addition to Bach and Beethoven, composer Henry Threadgill grew up with the blues of Muddy Waters, the gospel of Mahalia Jackson, the soul of Sam Cooke, the jazz of Thelonious Monk and the music of the many ethnic groups that populated Chicago in the 1940’s. In 1975 he moves to New York. Here he combines his influences in experimental ensembles with unusual line-ups such as Very Very Circus (including two tubas) with which he performs on Friday 14 February 1992 in De Oosterpoort at 27 Trompsingel. In 2016, he receives the Pulitzer Prize for the suite In for a Penny, In for a Pound with Zooid (including cello and guitar).

What are your musical influences?

Haile Gbrselassi wants to move forward in life. Therefore every day the Ethiopian runs to school, 10 kilometers to and 10 kilometers back. Later when he starts running races, he turns out to be faster than anyone else. And at all distances. He sets (27) world records on the full and half marathon, the 10 and 5 kilometers and the 4 miles. Every second Sunday of October about 20,000 sports enthusiasts run on Hereweg from Haren to Groningen. In 1993 Haile wins in 17:53 minutes. At the request of director Greetje Pasma, he participates again in 2013. At the age of 40, he does run a personal record, but has to put up with 2 fellow countrymen. Fortunately, he then already made his first steps as an entrepreneur with Haile & Alam International. Successfully.

What will be your next step?