Amsterdam has a lot of different tourist attractions. Many show the history of the city but it is difficult to really feel the history of the Netherlands. De Zaanse Schans is one of few sites in the Netherlands where you can truly relive the way the Dutch, and especially the people of the “Zaanstreek”, lived in the 17th and 18th century. The Zaanse Schans can be reached within 50 minutes from the city centre of Amsterdam.
What is the Zaanse Schans?
Nowadays the Zaanse Schans is an area to preserve the historical heritage from all around the Zaanstreek. It got its name Zaanse Schans in 1574 when a Dutch Governor by the name Diederik Sonoy built it to stop the Spanish troops. ‘Schans’ actually means Fortress. Between 1961 and 1974 a great many buildings were moved to this area because of the threat of urban development and that’s how it got its present functionality of open air museum.
What’s to see at the Zaanse Schans?
As said when you walk over de Zaanse Schans you have the feeling you walk through historic Holland. The Zaanse Schans holds a lot of historic houses and windmills. You will see a lot of clogs, museums, local food and other things where Holland from past times is known for. The Old windmills are of course eye catcher number 1. If you are lucky and the wind picks up, the sails of the mills will turn. You also have the opportunity to have a look in a mill yourself. In the windmills you are explained how the windmills actually work and what was or still is made there. The windmills can be found in the far end of the Zaanse Schans along the river de Zaan. Be careful when you walk the windmill route since the windmills stand along a small path which is still a busy cycle path.
Clogs are of course things that cannot be left out of the Dutch history and on the Zaansche Schans you can see an entire museum dedicated to this wooden shoe. What do you think for example of clogs especially made for horses? Clogs with large surface soles to not sink in the wet soil or even clogs for spies with a backward sole profile to mislead their opponents! Every hour the museum gives a demonstration on how clogs were made. There is a shop on-site where you buy your own set of real wooden clogs. Other museums on the Zaanse Schans are the clock museum, a cheese museum where they still make cheese, a bakery museum where you can taste and buy the local delicacy of Duivenkater, and a craft center. In the craft center you can find a number of different craft exhibitions. It holds one of the biggest collections of hand painted Makkumer and Delfts Blue pottery. Also the first grocery store of Albert Heijn is situated at the Zaanse Schans; Albert Heijn is at the moment the biggest supermarket chain in the Netherlands. Last but not least: you can take a boat trip on the Zaan. The information the captain will share with you along the way is something you will not find anywhere else on the Schans.
What are the costs?
Visiting the Zaanse Schans is free, with the exception of a few sites. where they charge a small fee. Visiting the windmills costs about €2.50 per windmill. The bakery museum costs around €1 for adults and the clock museum charges around €6. The rest of the museums are free of charge. The boat trip costs approximately €6 per adult.
How to get to the Zaansche Schans from Amsterdam?
There are 2 ways to get to the Zaanse Schans from Amsterdam. You can go by bus or by train.
Take line 91 from Amsterdam Central Station. This bus takes you to a stop right outside de Zaanse Schans and costs about €5 for a return ticket. You can ask the bus driver to inform you when you reach the Zaanse Schans but usually it is announced already. The bus normally runs every 30 minutes.
You can take the train in the direction of Alkmaar/Den Helder from Amsterdam Central Station. Make sure you take the ‘stoptrein’ because you have to get off at the small train station of Koog-Zaandijk. It’s the 4th train station from Amsterdam Central. From there, it’s a 10 minute walk to the Zaanse Schans. On the route you will cross the Juliana bridge where you have the best panoramic view over the Zaanse Schans – here you can take your best picture!
Map of walking route and local sites.
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