While it was founded in the 13th century, Eindhoven’s real history is intricately entwined with the rise of electronics giant Philips – so much so that it is informally known as the City of Light, in reference to the bulbs that the company once produced here in vast quantities. The Netherlands’ fifth-largest settlement may lack the old-world charm of other Dutch cities, but modern Eindhoven is a hub of innovation, technology and cutting-edge design, and many of its fascinating sights reflect this.
Eindhoven’s most striking building, the Evoluon, is in the shape of a flying saucer; formerly a technology museum, it’s now an events venue. The central Vesteda Toren stands out on the skyline as it resembles New York’s Flatiron Building, while De Admirant, at 105m (344ft), is the city’s tallest building. Nearby is the bizarrely amorphous structure known as De Blob, while across the street is the distinctive former Philips lightbulb factory, the White Lady. At one end, the top floors of its heptagonal Light Tower once shone like a permanent beacon, as this is where the company tested its light bulbs for endurance.
Philips may grab the headlines as the company that built Eindhoven, but the city is also home to another global company, DAF Trucks. The DAF Museum explores its history with a re-creation of the original DAF garage. There are hundreds of cars, trucks and other utility vehicles on display, including some heavy-duty survivors from the gruelling Paris-Dakar Rally. There are driving simulators and other themed hands-on games for the kids, plus you can climb into a trucker’s cabin or simply take a look at some whacky prototypes that never quite made it into production.
Thanks to its relatively recent development, Eindhoven has benefitted from sympathetic town planning and is one of the greenest cities in the Netherlands. It’s possible to follow the banks of the River Dommel from one side of the centre to the other along a leafy corridor virtually the whole way. Perfect for an evening stroll, Stadswandelpark (City Walking Park) is home to numerous modern sculptures that turn it into an outdoor art gallery. Also worth exploring is the expansive parkland surrounding the Karpendonkse Plas, a lake that’s home to a large population of geese as well as one of the city’s finest restaurants.
Eindhoven is proud of its sporting heritage, and nothing has given the city more reason to cheer than its men’s football team, PSV, which has won the Dutch league more than 20 times. A tour of PSV’s home ground, Philips Stadium, is a must for any fan. The visit takes in behind-the-scenes areas, such as the changing rooms and the directors’ box, and gives a glimpse into the pitch-side dugouts. The adjoining museum is packed with memorabilia from the club’s history, including a replica of the European Cup, a trophy the club won in 1988.
The biggest annual event in Eindhoven is Glow, a week-long spectacular celebration of light art that highlights the city’s design innovation and attracts more than 750,000 visitors. Each November the organisers create a different walking route around the city centre, peppered with around 30 art installations. They range from small and quirky fun pieces to the grand-scale illumination of the exterior of entire buildings, such as the Van Abbemuseum and the façade of the central St Catherine’s Church.