The Dutch windmills of Zaanse Schans - Sebrinah Yeo


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Sunday 27 June 2010

The Dutch windmills of Zaanse Schans

Ratianda's Dutch columnist and her husband take Malaysian guests for a visit to the famous Zaanse Schans (website: with it's five windmills, museums and much and much more to see and to do.

The Zaanse Schans is a delightful village on the banks of the river Zaan with characteristic green wooden houses, charming stylized gardens, small hump-backed bridges, tradesmen's workshops, historic windmills and engaging little shops.

This enchanting village has been lovingly established by relocating local houses, windmills, storehouses and barns to form a remarkable replica of a typical Zaanse village of the seventeenth and eighteenth century.

Apart from the cluster of windmills, characteristic wooden houses and delightful shops to visit, there are intriguing traditional Dutch crafts such as wooden shoes, pewter and cheese making, several fascinating museums, restaurants and even the possibility of taking a boat trip on the river.

The Zaanse Schans is open daily throughout the year. 

With its traditional green painted houses, warehouses and windmills the Zaanse Schans gives the feeling of having stepped back into the seventeenth or eighteenth centuries. However this is not an open air museum but a colourful living and working neighbourhood. Most of the buildings were re-located from other areas in the Zaanstreek in the 1960’s and 70’s as owing to urban development they were under threat of obliteration.
The Zaanse Schans offers a magnificent view of the surrounding landscape as it was before and after the industrial revolution. This panorama makes the Zaanse Schans a vital link in the 
European Route of Industrial Heritage. A visit to a working industrial windmill is a unique experience. Paint mill De Kat and oil mill De Zoeker are open daily from March to October. From November to February most of the windmills at the Zaanse Schans are only open at the weekends. The Jonge Schaap is open all year. The Zaanse Schans has a number of fascinating museums to tempt the visitor. The Zaans Musuem has a large collection of interesting artefacts and presents a variety of changing exhibitions. The museum combines a complete picture of the history of the area with an impressive view over the local landscape.

The smaller, specialized museums such as the first Albert Heijn Grocery shop, the Bakery Museum 'In de Gecroonde Duyvekater', The Dutch Clock Museum, The Noorderhuis Costume Museum are all situated at the Zaanse Schans in listed buildings bringing the history of this oldest industrial area to life.
There is no entrance fee for visiting the traditional Dutch workshops such as the Wooden Shoe Workshop, the Pewter Foundry and the Cheese Farm at the Zaanse Schans. Opening times may vary, but generally they are open daily throughout the year. The most enjoyable way to see the surrounding area is from the water. From April to October river cruises are available along the river Zaan not only for a splendid view of the Zaanse Schans, but also for a more detailed examination of the traditional and picturesque Dutch houses, windmills and other interesting sights along the way. 

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