De Zaanse Schans

What do those words mean..Zaanse and Schans?

Well, the word 'Zaanse' is merely the location; the water next to this village is the river Zaan. 'Schans' is an old-fashioned name for an defensive stronghold used in the middle ages against the Spanish with whom we fought from 1568 intil 1648. 

The Zaanse Schans is a village rebuilt in the image of a 19th century village. It was built in the 1960's to prevent a little bit of culture from slipping into oblivion. Houses from around the neighborhood were transported to this village, including the wind mills. The location may be new but most of the houses are genuinely old. If you like to see what life was like at the beginning of the industrial revolution, this the place to go. It is full of typical wooden houses, crafts shops and some functioning, old-fashioned wind mills that can be visited.

The area in which the Zaanse Schans is located, is the oldest industrial area of Western Europe and at a certain point had about 600 functioning wind mills. This number of wind mills was possible, simply because of the invention of the crankshaft by a local inventor in 1594.  It created a possibility for the vertical motion of the mill to be transformed to a horizontal sawing motion.This made it much easier to cut wood and it was much faster too.

In the 17th century this area contained 26 shipyards that built between 100 and 150 ships a year. Expanding the functionality, wind mills were not only used for sawing but also to make paper, grind spices, grind seeds for oil for both food and painting, create dyes and make flour and cacao powder.  

These days, this village with its crafts and wind mills attracts many people. The crafts portrayed include wooden shoe-making, weaving, a cheese factory and a real pewter foundry. The latter is definitely worth a visit, as are the mills. And if you like cheese, make sure to try a sample!

Many of the products can be bought at either the crafts shop or the general store there. Most things will be a little more expensive but not excessively. Cheese is cheap, small pewter objects are cheap. Be aware however that handmade wooden shoes or handmade Delft Blue may be pricey. 

You can find more information hereThe information is in English. The header 'Sailing' will tell you a little about the boat trip we'll be making and the 'Shopping' header will tell you what items you can buy. I would recommend that if you like cookies and/or sweets, to try a 'stroopwafel'. It's two wafers with caramel in between. And if they make them fresh, they'll still be warm. My American friends all seem to like them, so I can recommend them. Dutch licorice (or 'drop' in Dutch) is popular here but most of the Americans I know, don't like it.

 Nederlandse Rhododendron vereniging

Dutch chapter of the ARS