Quaint........Dutch style

Zaanse Schans Travel Blog

 › entry 1 of 1 › view all entries
Wood carving at the peak of a roof.

Jorge, his friend (Fer, visiting from Columbia), and I took the afternoon and went to a little village on the River Zaan. It one of the most popular tourist attractions in the Netherlands. The aftenoon was sunny and it was a perfect time to go.

They met me on the Haarlemerstraat near my house. It's a short walk to Centraal Station. The train tickets were only 2 euro 30 (with discount card) for the roundtrip journey. The train ride is a short one just 4 stops from Centraal. There are several trains that stop there so, you can find one atleast every 30 minutes.

Zaan is and interesting area. Not only is it beautiful but, it is believed to be the world's first industrialized area. During the "Dutch Golden Age" of the 17th century, the area was dotted with windmills processing linseed, wood, and mustard seed.

Windmills on the River Zaan
By the mid 17th century there were about 1000 windmills , working hard. Some of them are still preserved in the living museum of the Zannse Schans. The area is still heavily industrialized. There is even a factory that makes chocolate. Upon exiting the train you can smell the chocolate processing. It's a strange but sweet smell that is a bit like hot chocolate.

French impressionist painter Claude Monet visited Zaandam in the summer of 1871 and created a series of 24 paintings of the Zaan district. He wrote to his friend Camille Pissarro that, "there is enough here to paint for an entire lifetime." Monet returned to the Netherlands and painted the  Zaan district over many years.

The walk to the park area reveals some of the factories of the area and old buildings with intricate wooden details that remind me of Lithuania.

Shoes for the whole family!
As we approached the Zaan, the bridges were both up making for a dramatic entrance.

Standing on the bridge waiting for it to lower, I got the change to really look at the sights before me. I've never seen so many windmills in one place. Also the houses along the right side of the river are all so old and quaint they are the perfect compliment to the windmills on the other side. The whole sight is just what you expect to find in The Netherlands.

It's very interesting that the idea for this assembly of Dutch life and culture was begun in 1946 by a group of men that wanted to stop the destruction of the region's cultural heritage. In a few years they got the backing of the mayors in the Zaan region and the park was underway.

I had read that when you come to this place, Amsterdam will feel far away and the sky will even feel higher.

Facade design from 1750
This was surely the case. The openness is freeing.

We reached the other side of the bridge and take a close up look at this tiny store housed in a elaborately detailed building (tea cupola). In front of it are 4 pair of wooden shoes. There's a pair for a father, mother, son, and daughter. Each was painted in it's own unique color. 

Walking in through the main street, the houses, mostly green, each have there own unique design elements. As a great representation of a Dutch village, there is a canal across from them and the most beautfiul little houses with lush foliage. Little bridges cross the canal to reach the houses. The weeping willows are especially nice, here.

Each of the houses on the main street are a store from the past. We went into an Albert Heijn (grocer store) that was showing how groceries were sold hundreds of years ago.

The entrance to the merchant's house "De Moi".
They didn't allow photography, though.

The entrance to the Merchant's house has guilded and painted window detailing over the door. It's fantastic!  

Past the assembly of village merchant's buildings, you enter an area that is open and begins the walkin along the river and the windmills.  There are five great examples of windmills (Moelen) here. To the other side was a field separated by little canals, like in most of Holland.

We walked through this amazing area and took many pictures. We decided to go inside one of them as each of them chared 3 euro to enter. De Kat (The Cat) was the one. It was a dye mill and is on the Kalverringdijk.

Fer and I went up and George stayed outside and took pictures of us up on the deck of the windmill.

Couldn't you just move on in and be happy here!!!
He has been to Zaanse Schans five times now and for him, the thrill is gone.

The inside of the lower section was full of large wooden and stone parts working in unison. Climbing the steepest stairs in Holland (and that's saying something!) you reach the inside gears that pull directly off the blades. It was amazing to see such simple, rough, and basic materials creating such power.

Climbing the stairs to the deck level, there were barrels of color power sitting about. There was also a cabinet with bottles of samples of the many different colors manufactured here. Walking outside the view is the grasslands  / wetlands, the river, and many windmills.

Amazing moelen on the Zaan
To the south you can see "De Zoeker" (oil mill) and "Het Jonje Schap" (saw mill). To the north there are "De Gekroonde Poelernburg" (saw mill) and "De Huisman" (mustard mill).

From there, on to "De Catharinahoeve" (cheese factory). There you could see cheese being made and also being aged. The smell in this place was so delisciously aromatic. There is counter with many, many sample of the various cheeses made here. I was able to make a small lunch out of this. There were so many great cheeses but, I think my favorite is the Autumn cheese. It has some little peppers in it that give it a tangy and sweet taste. It was so good but, I wouldn't buy it, in fear of eating it all in just a short time. I know myself. It was wise. When my friend Karen comes for a visit, we'll come here and share.

It's better that way.

Continuing down the path is the wooden shoe factory. In the front is a bicycle attached to a fence. There is a basket on the front and 2 windmills in the background. It is obviously there for the photographic opportunity. So, for the first time during my experience of living in the Netherlands, I got on a bike. I've ridden bikes in many places (Sevilla, Madrid, Riga, Serbia) but, not here. Maybe the ridding thing will happen soon.?

Also outside the shoe factory is a very large wooden shoe. We all took turns getting in the shoe for a picture. There are also a couple of pair of large, more human sized, shoes. We had to get pics in them as well.

In the yard around the factory chickens and a black and white turkey looking bird maintained security.

Barrels of colored powder

Inside the factory is a wooden shoe museum. The first section is a collection of shoes from different regions of The Netherlands. There were work shoes and dress shoes of many styles and colors. Some were the strangest of designs, not being the typical expected "wooden shoe". They are very creative in their design for their function.

There are also clogs from all over the world. There are the most amazing and unusual designs. One of my favorites is a pair from the Pyrenees. They look quite Asian. There are also some extremely elaborately carved designs for weddings. There is even a pair for the bride wearing white.  There is even a beautifullly colored pair of Dutch wooden shoes from 1675.

There are clogs with birds carved into the toe area, clogs painted with gold, laquered black from Japan, and even some that look like little stilts from the Middle East.

Ok, here's another pic....just so you truely believe! That's not a backdrop at a photo studio.

There is a pair from Switzerland that would look appropriate today in a Birkenstock catalog. There were clogs for ice and roller skating, as well. There were even shoes that were painted to be pieces of modern art.

We saw the workshop where they take the raw material and turn it into a shoe. It's a simple shop but they end up with many different offerings.

In the shop area there is a huge, long wall of many different colors and designs. There will surely be something for everyone. They even had tiny souvenir shoes for a keepsake. Also, like most souvenir shops in this country, there are the houses of Amsterdam. You can mix and match to make your own neighorhood (buurt).

On the wall as we were leaving, there is a poster showing the water and land levels of the country and the North Sea, quite interesting.

Clogs from the Pyrenees (France)
I would consider investing in a personal floatation device if you live in this country. I have mine!

We contiued walking through the paths along the canals with fairytale views. At one house there is a sculptured garden that's from a time long past. The canal takes you past several houses of fantastic detail. The wooden roof edge details create a "Hansel and Gretje" on a canal feeling. In the next yard a goose guards his space.

As we take our walk along the canal leading back to the main street and the exit, for us, we see an unusual sight. There seems to be a "bus stop" along the canal. There is a bench at a wooden platform at the canal's edge. It's really cute. Fer had to have a picture there.

In the last section of houses there was a really great tiny window and shutter, on a house.

The smallest window in Zaanse Schans.
I love finding little things like this. It just makes for a really interesting photo.

Returning to the main street, it is time to head back to the train. It has been an interesting look at a few of the different aspects of life and culture in Holland. It's a great place for a tourist or just for a relaxing day in beautiful surroundings.

moshers_moll says:
Great blog! I thoroughly enjoyed my day out here :-)
Posted on: Oct 20, 2009
Join TravBuddy to leave comments, meet new friends and share travel tips!
Wood carving at the peak of a roof.
Wood carving at the peak of a roof.
Windmills on the River Zaan
Windmills on the River Zaan
Shoes for the whole family!
Shoes for the whole family!
Facade design from 1750
Facade design from 1750
The entrance to the merchants hou…
The entrance to the merchant's ho…
Couldnt you just move on in and b…
Couldn't you just move on in and …
Amazing moelen on the Zaan
Amazing moelen on the Zaan
Barrels of colored powder
Barrels of colored powder
Ok, heres another pic....just so …
Ok, here's another pic....just so…
Clogs from the Pyrenees (France)
Clogs from the Pyrenees (France)
The smallest window in Zaanse Scha…
The smallest window in Zaanse Sch…
A.......vase!
A.......vase!
The bridge across the Zaan River o…
The bridge across the Zaan River …
Close up of two of the windmills
Close up of two of the windmills
beautiful houses on the opposing s…
beautiful houses on the opposing …
Houses of the Zaanse Schans on the…
Houses of the Zaanse Schans on th…
Simple house and the tea cupola in…
Simple house and the tea cupola i…
A sailboat heading out.
A sailboat heading out.
The tinkoepel, formely a tea house…
The tinkoepel, formely a tea hous…
Main Street
Main Street
Typical Holland landscape captured…
Typical Holland landscape capture…
Facade element from 1750.
Facade element from 1750.
Facade element from 1720.
Facade element from 1720.
Holland as we expect to see it.
Holland as we expect to see it.
Little moelen
Little moelen
De Kat - Windmill
De Kat - Windmill
I think he was working but heard I…
I think he was working but heard …
Ok...that little speck on the left…
Ok...that little speck on the lef…
The mill, working hard!
The mill, working hard!
more gears!
more gears!
Cabinet full of colors produced he…
Cabinet full of colors produced h…
I love this shot!
I love this shot!
The turning apparatus
The turning apparatus
Close up - turning apparatus
Close up - turning apparatus
Center wheel on the turning aparat…
Center wheel on the turning apara…
Different angle
Different angle
the field across from the mills
the field across from the mills
Cheese ......lots of it!
Cheese ......lot's of it!
Hmmm.....the beginnings of cheese.
Hmmm.....the beginnings of cheese.
Ok....this is monumental. This is …
Ok....this is monumental. This is…
My friend Jorge, at one with the b…
My friend Jorge, at one with the …
This little thing was not scared o…
This little thing was not scared …
Intersting coloring but, was ignor…
Intersting coloring but, was igno…
Cool. a well and a mill and a cana…
Cool. a well and a mill and a can…
The wooden shoe maker and museum
The wooden shoe maker and museum
Its a little too big but, doesnt…
It's a little too big but, doesn'…
Ok, now theyre broken in. They fe…
Ok, now they're broken in. They f…
Waiting on the bus, or boat, or ?
Waiting on the bus, or boat, or ?
One last walk through the main str…
One last walk through the main st…
Sponsored Links
Zaanse Schans
photo by: inkie1010