A short distance from the great Dutch city of Amsterdam is a place that seems to transport us to another era. Is about Zaanse Schans, where you discover how people lived in the Netherlands in the pastin a pre-industrial era where much of life was based on the energy produced by the famous Dutch windmills.
How to get to Zaanse Schans
If you spend a vacation in Amsterdam, approaching this historic town is very simple. Just go to Amsterdam Central Station and take a train to Koog-Zaandijk. The journey takes barely a quarter of an hour, and after another 10-minute walk we will have reached our destination: Zaanse Schans and its charming set of windmills.
A place out of a story
The visit to the historic area of Zaanse Schans is free. But above all, it is a most photogenic walk, with the buildings on the banks of the river that offer us a trip back in time. Almost unintentionally you will land in the 17th or 18th centuries. And all this next to the metropolis, and although here it seems to us that it is very far away, it is only a half hour away with the bustle of Amsterdam.
However, we warn you that walking through the monumental complex is free, but entering its different buildings requires the payment of a ticket. Although it is the best way to understand how they worked and what was done in all that collection of mills and traditional houses.
The variety of windmills in Zaanse Schans
Throughout the 16th and 17th centuries more than 600 mills were built in the Zaanse Schans area. This gives an idea of the enormous importance of this area, which became a very powerful industrial region.
Perhaps you have the idea that in a mill only the grain of the cereals is ground to make flour. Well, you are wrong. Windmills have been used for many other thingsand in this Dutch town you can discover it in great detail.
Ahere we are going to meet De Huisman, in which spices were ground, especially mustard. But at De Kat other mineral substances were ground into powders intended to be color pigments. While other mills were used to make oil.
And also, thanks to the force and its mechanism driven by hydraulic energy, they were used to dispose of large sawmills.
A very tourist attraction
In short, perhaps you had not heard of Zaanse Schans, but if you visit it you will not forget them for their charm and for the endless things you will learn about the ways of life of the past in Holland.
It is a magnificent place for a visit. That is why it is not surprising that each year up to approximately one million tourists arrive, who enjoy a set integrated in the European Route of Industrial Heritageor European Industrial Heritage Route.
“Youth travel is part of education; in older people it is part of the experience.”
More than an open-air museum
Actually we can consider the core of Zaanse Schans as an open-air museum. Yes ok you can also visit the Zaans Museum, a more modern installation that has been created to concentrate in a single point all the information on the uses and customs that are reflected in the traditional mills and houses of the population.
By the way, some of those houses today have their interior transformed into cozy craft shops and typical products. It is worth entering them, at least, to browse.
And if we talk about Holland and typical products you have to buy some of their cheesesas well as their traditional wooden clogs, very useful in rural life in the Netherlands, but that visitors only buy as a nice souvenir of a trip to Holland.