Thorn - the white town in the heart of Limburg

The history of Thorn

The little white town of Thorn is popular among tourists and it has a rich history dating back to the late 10th century. 

Over the course of time it developed into a miniature convent ruled by an abbess and 20 ladies of noble birth. It had its own jurisdiction and its own currency, but this came to an end in 1794 with the arrival of the French. That’s when Thorn got its distinctive white colour. After the aristocratic ladies had fled, the French imposed a tax based on the size of the windows. The locals were often poor people living in large properties that previously belonged to the rich. To reduce the amount of tax they had to pay, many of them bricked up the windows and then whitewashed their houses to conceal the signs of their renovation work (‘scars of poverty’).

Guided tours of Thorn

The historic centre of Thorn is a protected heritage area. 

Sights include the cobbled streets, the beautiful Abbey Church and the Municipal Museum called ‘Het Land van Thorn’. Among other things in the municipal museum you can see the Thorn Panorama, a 3D painting of the historic old town. 

You can also visit the ‘Kapel onder de Linden’ chapel which is approximately 2 kilometres outside of town. Processions are still held from nearby villages to this special chapel to this day. The route to the chapel takes you past various field chapels that pilgrims also used to visit on their journey to ‘Kapel onder de Linden’. 

A VVV-authorised guide organises a themed walk on every third Sunday of the month. In addition, groups can pre-arrange guided tours all year round. For more information, contact VVV Thorn.

Boat trips

Thorn is the starting point for various boat trips to explore the splendid Maasplassen network of lakes.


One of the oldest nature-development projects of the Border Meuse (Grensmaas) is the ‘Koningssteen’ close to Thorn. Here, Galloway cattle and Konik horses ensure that hardwood forests, thickets and grasslands continue to grow and evolve side by side.