Tuesday, 10 July 2012

Windmills at Zaanse Schans Outdoor Museum

Zaanse Schans

When I realised that I'd have a few days spare in the Netherlands following a meeting at the University of Amsterdam, it didn't take me long to ask Charlotte English whether she'd be available to meet up. Charlotte is one of my all-time favourite fantasy authors, and she writes a lovely blog about her life in Holland, so I was excited to meet her and see if she's as friendly in person as online (unsurprisingly, she is - and her partner is also great company).

I suggested she should pick something fun for us to do, since I don't know the area, and so it was that we came to meet up at Zaanse Schans, an outdoor museum of working windmills and preserved historic houses just north of Amsterdam. It's a fantastic area to explore, and we had a great day despite the gathering stormclouds (and oh, how it rained the next day).

Zaanse Schans

Zaanse Schans lays claim to having had, at one stage, the highest density of windmills in the Netherlands. And although most of them are long gone, the few that remain in working order are still an impressive site, lined up like sentinels along the bank of the river.

Like the windmills, the houses have also been moved to this designated area for preservation purposes. Amazingly, a lot of the houses are still privately occupied, and it must be very strange for them to have tourists wandering around and peering in through their windows every day. Charlotte's partner grew up nearby, and told us loads of interesting facts - of which, the one that really sticks is this: at the time these houses were built, the colour of your paint gave away how wealthy you were, as the richer merchants could afford more pigment. How's that for showing off?

This was a great find, and I'm not sure I would have discovered it by myself. It's free to wander around the outside areas, although of course there's an admission charge for the museums. We went into one of the working windmills to have a look around - but that's a story for another day.


Zaanse Schans

Zaanse Schans

Zaanse Schans


Zaanse Schans



Rachel said...

It sounds like a really fascinating place to visit - but I'm glad to hear the rain held off until the next day!

Welshcakes Limoncello said...

Lovely and atmospheric photos. The last one is so cute!

A Cuban In London said...

I know I'm not supposed to say this as a person born and raised in a country with warm weather. I love those first two photographs of the grey skies with the windmills in the foreground. And the ducklings! They're so cute.

Greetings from London.

christine said...

wow, what a lovely place:) I love the clouds - but probably wouldn't have enjoyed the rain!

Bob Hilscher said...

Hi there. My wife, Jean, and I like you spent a day at the village of Zaanse Schans where we got to see their large collection of windmills. Most people know that windmills were once a major part of the Dutch landscape, however today, they are a rare thing to see as you drive around The Netherlands. For us, a trip to Holland just wouldn’t have been complete without seeing windmills in action. If anyone would like to check out the variety of windmills that we saw, they are at: http://frametoframe.ca/photo-essay-windmills-holland

We also really enjoyed our visit to the beautiful gardens at Keukenhof, which is considered the best outdoor gardens in he world! As Canadians, we have traveled to many places on the planet, and The Netherlands is at the top of our list. And one of the key things to witness in Holland are the Keukenhof Gardens in April!! http://frametoframe.ca/photo-essay-tulips-keukenhof-gardens-holland

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