Zaanse Schans can be called the Netherlands in a nutshell. We will see there not only the buildings of Dutch communities from the 18th and 19th centuries, but also a chocolate and cheese factory and workshops - still operating, just like windmills and shops.
The famous open-air museum is situated on the river Zaan, and Amsterdam can be reached by car in approx. 15 minutes. Tourists who do not have their own means of transport can reach the place in 40 minutes by taking bus 391. It leaves every 30 minutes (every quarter in summer) from the main railway station - Amsterdam Central Station.
From April to November, the open-air museum is open from 10.00 to 17.00. Walking is free . A fee is required when we want to enter the windmills (admission costs 3.5 euros for adults, and 2 euros for children). Parking is also paid. A stay of up to 30 minutes costs 1 euro, while longer - 8 euro.
A living open-air museum
Zaanse Schans is one of the districts of Zaandam , a city immortalized in 25 paintings by Claude Monet. The Impressionist master spent six months here, capturing the beauty of the area on his canvas. It is also a city where the Russian Tsar Peter I the Great learned about shipbuilding. And from a slightly more recent history - in 1971, the first McDonald's in Europe was opened in Zaandam.
Located on the Zaan River, the open-air museum is not formally a museum, and the houses standing in it are still inhabited. Zaanse Schans owes its name to governor Diederik Sonoy, on whose order a rampart was built here in 1574. It was supposed to be an obstacle to the Spanish army.
Over the years, the district has been gradually modernized. The number of windmills and traditional houses decreased in favor of new buildings and roads. Many buildings were destroyed after World War II. It was only in the 1950s that the De Zaanse Schans association was established to guard the monuments. Thanks to it, we can still admire the traditional buildings and watch the work in the workshops.
Walking through the past
While exploring other interesting places, we can visit the famous spice shop and see a map showing the route followed by merchant ships traveling to various corners of Asia. While in the open-air museum, it is impossible to miss the windmills. It is definitely worth visiting Het Jonge Schaap , a windmill-sawmill with a complex structure that makes a huge impression on tourists. In the De Bonte Hen oil-producing windmill and the De Kat dye-producing windmill, you can read leaflets in Polish.
There is a cheese shop between the windmills. You can observe the process of its creation and take advantage of the possibility of tasting various types of product. If we like a particular species, it can be purchased on the spot.
The open-air museum also houses a factory of traditional Dutch clogs . It is connected with a shop and an exhibition where you can see, among others clogs-skates and clogs for the horse. Tourists like to take pictures of themselves in giant clogs standing in front of the entrance.
A campsite in the Netherlands near Zaandam
In Zaanse Schans, you can get to know the former life of the inhabitants, dine in one of the two restaurants, and relax among the windmills. Tourists who came to the open-air museum with their own camper can spend the night in Caravanpark 'De Akker' , located approx. 4 km north of the city. It is open from April 1 to October 31. We will pay 17 euros a day for a parking space for a motorhome, a stay of 2 people and access to electricity. You can come here with your dog (its stay costs 1 euro / day).
There are numerous bicycle paths in the vicinity of the campsite. Guests can also sail or even moor their own small boat.
A trip to the Dutch open-air museum is an encounter with living history, both literally and figuratively. It is a journey back in time and a great opportunity to relax in beautiful surroundings straight from postcards. No wonder that thousands of tourists visit Zaanse Schans every year - not only from Europe.
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