Amsterdam Day Trips: Historical Habits at the Zaanse Schans

Amsterdam Day Trips: Historical Habits at the Zaanse Schans

Escape the bustle of the city and discover a

forgotten world at this picturesque village, renowned for its traditional Dutch

architecture, authentic atmosphere and of course, its iconic series of working

windmills.

Easily

accessible from your Amsterdam apartment through a fifteen minute, scenic train

journey from Central Station, this popular tourist destination has continued to

attract scores of visitors for generations, welcoming almost one million guests

per year. Located on the east bank of the Zaan River, this well preserved

community grants a fascinating glimpse into life throughout the 17th,

18th and 19th centuries, representing a true essence of Dutch

history and culture.

Having

lived in Amsterdam for over four years, I am ashamed to admit I had never heard

of the Zaanse Schans until a friend offered advice on how to keep my parents

entertained during a recent visit. That’s one of the things I secretly adore

about receiving guests; the chance to unabashedly indulge in blatant tourist

activities. And indeed, this pictorial setting is undoubtedly touristic. With

its swarming coach loads, particularly prevalent in the summer months,

customary “welcome” photograph, and extortionate souvenir prices, the

neighbourhood is far removed from an undiscovered local treasure.

Despite

such drawbacks, the Zaanse Schans ensures an afternoon of enlightenment and

enjoyment, and provides ample opportunity to travel back in time to Holland’s

industrial golden age. A sequence of towering windmills overlook the water,

open to the public for a small fee, which showcase varying productions such as

mustard, oil and paper, and grant wonderful views from their elevated levels. One

of the monuments, De Kat, dates back to 1646 and is the only remaining working

windmill in the world that manufactures paint.

Aside from

such captivating venues, the village is also home to several private houses

dripping in authenticity and character, which have been relocated from across

the country. A historic shipyard, a cheese and dairy farm, a clog workshop and

a replica of the oldest Albert Heijn store enhance the experience, with a

quintessential pancake restaurant concluding a typically pleasant Dutch

encounter. Highly recommended for all ages and especially popular with

children, I for one will be heading back with my next array of visitors for a

refreshing alternative to Amsterdam’s more familiar attractions.

The area is

free to enter, although charges are applied to the museums and windmills, and

steep parking fees are implemented for visitors arriving by car. Guests of our

Amsterdam apartments are encouraged to utilise the efficient public transport

links that allow swift admission through the charming Dutch countryside. You

can plan your journey with ease at the superb website, 

which offers detailed advice in

English.

Further information

regarding Zaanse Schans and its facilities can be found here.