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Exploring Windmills in the Wintry Netherlands

It was the morning of New Year’s Eve 2010, a few hours before my brother Ryan was going to propose to his girlfriend Melissa. My parents and I had been assigned the task of keeping Melissa occupied so he could run madly about Amsterdam getting everything put together.

So we ate a scrumptiously hearty breakfast, Dad pretended he couldn’t wait to see another museum, and we bundled up and trooped out to explore the Zaanse Schans windmills.

It was wickedly cold but we didn’t mind because we actually got to see canals frozen right over!! It was like we’d stepped into a scene out of Hans Brinker.

The first windmill was built along the Zaan River in 1597. Over the next several hundred years over a thousand more would grace its banks. During the 19th century 400 were in operation at one time. Nowadays windmills have given way to more modern operating methods, but they still form an important role in the history and tourism of the Netherlands.

The Zanse Schans is a marvelous place for a day trip. Much like an open-air museum, it features 8 working windmills used to grind mustard seeds, saw wood, and press oil out of seeds. They’ve been moved here from different parts of the country and can be toured for minimal cost.

Other beautiful old buildings have been brought in to form a quaint village full of winsome cottages, arched bridges and tidy gardens. If it weren’t for all the people trooping by, I’d love to live in one of these!!

You can tour museums that teach about Dutch clock-making, baking, arts and crafts, and what it was like to shop for groceries hundreds of years ago. There are also numerous charming shops where you can taste Dutch chocolate and cheese or sip a piping hot cup of cocoa. My Dad happily frequented these spots.

Are you a fan of open air museums? What is your favorite one to visit?

Helpful Information:

  • The Zaanse Schans is open daily throughout the year from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m.
  • There is no entrance fee, however some of the attractions charge an admission fee.
  • During the winter months some of the attractions are only opened in the weekends.

Zaans Museum
Schansend 7, 1509 AW Zaandam
Tel: +31 (0)75 681 00 00
Fax: +31 (0)75 617 69 80
E-mail: info@zaanseschans-museum.nl
website: http://www.zaanseschans.nl/

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El - It looks like a lovely place. Sounds like you have many fond memories!

tasteofbeirut - My son’s friend and partner is visiting tomorrow from Amsterdam and now this post has given me a chance to ask him about this museum; the place looks so so cold (but lovely); I would have to wait for a few rays of sunshine to be able to visit!

Krista - Oh I hope you get to go soon, Daniele. 🙂 It’s a little touristy but if you go on the off-season it’s really quite nice. 🙂

Krista - Oh good!! Yes, I think you’re getting better and better. 🙂

Krista - Oh how fun, Nicole! Glad I could bring back good memories for you. 🙂

Krista - You said it, Brenna. 🙂 Was very, very glad for hot chocolate that day. 🙂

Daniele - ops, I wanted to say: shame on me, 5 years in Netherlands and still haven’t been there!!!

Daniele - Shame on me

Malin Enros - Well, thank you!! Makes me very happy to hear every time!! 😀 I guess that means I’m doing progress then!

Fabuleuxdestinbrenna - How pretty – but cold!!!

Nicole - I visited Zaanse Schans 20 years ago! Fun to see it again and remember. 🙂

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