Zaanse Schans, can be called the Netherlands in a nutshell. There we will see not only the Dutch community’s development of the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries, but also chocolate and cheese factory, as well as workshops - still operating, just like windmills and shops.
The famous museum is located on the river Zaan, and Amsterdam can be reached by car within approx. 15 minutes. Tourists, who don’t have their own transportation can get there within 40 minutes by bus no. 391. It runs every 30 minutes (in the summer every fifteen minutes) from the main train station - Amsterdam Centraal Station.
From April to November museum is open from 10.00 AM to 5.00 PM. Sightseeing is free of charge. The fee is required when you want to go to the windmills (the admission costs 3.5 euros for adults and 2 euros for children). You also have to pay for the parking. 30 minutes costs 1 euro, but if you want to use it longer, you will have to pay 8 euros.
A living museum
Zaanse Schans is one of the districts of Zaandam, the city immortalized on 25 paintings by Claude Monet. The Impressionist master spent half a year in this place, capturing the beauty of the area on canvas. It’s also a city, where the Russian Tsar Peter the Great studied the knowledge of shipbuilding. From a bit more recent times - in 1971 in Zaandam the first McDonald's in Europe was opened.
The museum located on the river Zaan isn’t formally a museum, and the houses placed in it are still inhabited. Zaanse Schans owes its name to Governor Diederik Sonoy, who in 1574 ordered building of earthwork here. It was supposed to stop the Spanish troops.
Over the years, the district underwent gradual modernization. The number of windmills and traditional houses was decreased to make a room for new buildings and roads. Many of the buildings were destroyed after World War II. In the 50s of the last century the association De Zaanse Schans emerged, which is supposed to protect monuments. Thanks to it we can still admire the traditional buildings and see how the workshops operate.
Walking through the past
In the course of exploring another interesting places we can visit the famous spice shop and see a map with the route, through which merchant ships were traveling to various parts of Asia. Being in the museum, it’s practically impossible not to notice the windmills. It’s definitely worth visiting Het Jonge Schaap, a saw-windmill of a complex structure, which makes a huge impression on tourists. In the oil-producing windmill De Bonte Hen and dye-producing windmill De Kat, you can read the leaflets also in Polish language.
Between windmills we can find a cheese shop. You can get acquaint with the process of its production and use the opportunity to taste various types of cheese. If you want to you can buy cheese on site.
The museum also houses a traditional Dutch clogs factory. It’s connected with the shop and exhibition, where you can see, among others, clogs-skates and clogs for the horse. Tourists very eagerly take pictures in giant clogs standing in front of the entrance.
Camping in Netherland near Zaandam
In Zaanse Schans you can get acquaint with the old life of inhabitants, dine in one of the two restaurants, and relax in the midst of windmills. Tourists, who come to the museum with their own motorhome can stay at Caravanpark 'De Akker' which is located approx. 4 km north of the city. It’s open from 1 April to 31 October. For a place for motorhome, stay of 2 people and access to electricity we will have to pay 17 euros a day. You can come here with a dog (it costs 1 euro/day).
In the vicinity of the camp there’re numerous cycle paths. Guests also can sail, and even moor their own motorboat.
A trip to the Dutch open-air museum is an encounter with the living history, understood literally and figuratively. It’s a journey through time and a great opportunity to relax in beautiful surroundings straight from the postcards. No wonder that Zaanse Schans is visited by thousands of tourists each year - and not only from Europe.