Thursday, July 17, 2014

Zaanse Schans

The Letter Z.

My husband, Gem, immigrated to Canada from the Netherlands with his family when he was nine years old. A couple years ago we had a wonderful three week holiday there. We brought our granddaughter, A, who was nine years old at the time, with us. One day we took a day tour to the countryside to an area known as Zaanse Schans which is a fully inhabited, open-air conservation area located just a few miles north of Amsterdam. Zaanse Schans was named in 1574 when a Dutch Governor by the name Diederik Sonoy built it to prevent the Spanish troops from invasion. ‘Schans’ actually means Fortress. It is located in Zaandam, near Zaandijk in the municipality of Zaanstad in the province of North Holland.

At Zaanse Schans you get a vivid impression of the Dutch way of life in the 17th and 18th centuries. There are authentic houses, a historic shipyard, a cheese and dairy farm, an old fashioned grocery store, and above all, many windmills.

                          My granddaughter and I by one of the many windmills.

It is a place often referred to as an open-air museum because of its extraordinarily well preserved architecture and traditions.

We wandered around drinking in the beauty and peace of Zaanse Schans for several hours.

A litle girl hidden by grasses almost as tall as she is. A loved the freedom. The melody of the wind making constant rush-rushing sounds as it blew through the waving grass was lovely.

The grasses don't hide Papa quite so well.

It was very interesting to see the group of people dressed-up in traditional Dutch clothing. Gem remarked that they were dressed just as his own grandparents and great-grandparents would have been. He explained this to A and she thought they looked cool, and expressed her desire to own a pair of wooden shoes.

The black and white Friesland cows were charming. They must lead an idyllic life for a cow, free to roam the countryside with an abundance of fresh, green grass. No wonder they produce such delicious cheese and creamy milk.

A was very excited to see a swan for the first time. We watched his graceful swimming and preening for a long time.

We will always remember the sound of the rushing grasses and the abiding peace of Zaanse Schans.


  1. What a wonderful post and such lovely pictures. The buildings and the people look as if they've been locked in a time warp. Love the colourful architecture and windmills just stunning...I hope your granddaughter got her clogs,
    best wishes,

  2. Thank you Nana Jo, for the lovely post of the Zaanse Schans, and for the information you wrote with them. I love that place, especially the old shops and wooden houses. How wonderful to be there with your husband and granddaughter. I live quite near the windmills of Kinderdijk, where I often go for a walk and a cup of coffee in or outside the souvenirshop.I had been walking there with bloggers who visited me.
    Thanks for this post. I hope to see you again in the next round of ABCWednesday.
    Wil, ABCW Team.

  3. what a cool all the windmills!!!! Especially there by the really does feel like you stepped back in time....

  4. such a lovely countryside!


  5. So beautiful. I've been to a few "living history" places and love them all. I must put this on my bucket list.

    abcw team