A mere 30 minutes ride from the center of Amsterdam would transport you back into the Dutch Golden Age. The Zaanse Schans is recreated for an authentic Dutch experience dating back to 17th and 18th century and is a popular tourist destination.
A train from Amsterdam central to the Koog-Zaandijk station and a 15-minutes walk through the serene and calm village of Zaandijk town. The first glimpse of windmills and you are there!
The traditional windmills dotting the Zaan River, the quaint wooden houses, and the stunning landscape of the neighborhood of Zaanse Schans would leave you in awe. Admission to Zaanse Schans is free however a small entrance fee would be required to visit the windmills.
Zaan region is one of the oldest industrial areas and it is believed that the bygone times have seen more than 600 functional windmills of which less than 10 remains today.
The mills are used for different purposes like sawing wood, grinding oil or spices and grinding the color stones to create traditional paints. De Zoeker is an extremely old oil mill dating back to 1672. Zaanse Schans also has two mini-windmills one of which is the last remaining stone-pounding mill in the Zaan region.
The aroma of freshly ground spices from one of the windmills filled the air and we decided to pay it a visit. There were several pairs of millstones grinding the raw materials in one corner of the warehouse.
The entrance was free and the windmill also housed an authentic spice shop. Watching the heavy grinding machine pounding the raw materials was a remarkable experience.
Catharina Hoeve cheese farm has demonstrations where a lady wearing traditional clothing explains different stages of cheese production and the variety of cheese they processed.
At the end of the session, we had a chance to sample different flavors of cheese. Chhavi had great time savoring the cheese while the lady took pleasure in offering different flavors for her tasting. The entrance to the farm is free. The farm also houses a shop where one can shop from an assortment of the delicious cheese.
There are several craftsmen’s workshops held in the Zaanse Schans region for all kinds of traditional Dutch crafts. The Craftsmen use different expert techniques for demonstration. Almost all of the demonstrations are free of charge and these crafts make wonderful souvenir take-away.
Visit the wooden shoe workshop and an attractive clog museum for an impressive collection of painted and carved wooden shoes or the tempting Zaans Gedaan CacaoLab for a demonstration of the traditional way of chocolate making using traditional utensils and the 18th-century methods. Interested people can also enjoy a brief chocolate making workshop.
Many of the village’s characteristic houses are turned into museums; souvenir shops or workshops while many other serves as private residences.
Traditional functional windmills and the village lifestyle provides one with a vivid understanding of the past of Dutch.
A boat tour on the Zaan River can be done for wonderful panoramic vistas of Zaanse Schans and the mills. Visit Zaanse Schans for there is so much to do, see, taste and experience that can make one fall in love with the traditional Dutch village!
Have you visited Zaanse Schans and its traditional windmills? Share with us your experiences in comments.