Marktplein from Bourtange, Netherlands

Today it is a village, with 133 houses and less than 300 inhabitants. Yet Bourtange was built as a military fort in 1593, during the Dutch Revolt, on the orders of William the Silent. It held this role until 1851, when it officially lost its defensive purpose and it was populated by craftsmen and farmers. Its initial purpose was to watch the road linking Spanish Groningen to Germany. It is one of the most spectacular star forts in Europe. The pentagonal plan and the network of canals and fortifications respects the original project. The square stands in the geometric middle and has the pentagonal shape of the way the buildings are placed within the fort. Its perimeter is perfectly defined by 14 lime trees which are over 300 years old. The square holds the most important houses, the captain’s house, the commander’s house, the house of the school headmaster, for the placement of the buildings was organised hierarchically. The Protestant church dates from 1869 and, importantly, is close to the square but not in the square itself.