Take our Amsterdam tour to windmills. Experience the Zaanse Schans with a Holland Windmills tour.
A short history of the Zaan area near Amsterdam
The Zaan area, part of the Amsterdam metropolitan region, once was the biggest industrial area in the world. In the 17th century the Zaan had about 600 sawmills and shipyards, mass producing ships for the Dutch navy and merchant fleet.
The Zaan area was so famous that the Russian tsar Peter the Great came here to learn from the shipbuilders, in person. The Russian emperor tried to stay incognito, but was soon recognised. The house where he lived is now one the main attraction of the Zaan area.
It’s a very simple house and many people are amazed that the mighty emperor lived in such modest conditions.
Because of the unstable ground, most houses here were build out of wood. During the Second World War, lots of these old building and windmills were demolished for firewood.
After the war the remaining pieces of this heritage were collected from all over the Zaan area and rebuild on the Zaanse Schans.
Most buildings are painted green or black, the traditional colors of the Zaan area.
Green paint used to contain copper oxide, which made the wood more durable. Every house has a makelaar on the roof, literally a ‘real estate agent’. These showed the wealth of the owner of the house.
These old houses are open to the public during your Amsterdam tour to windmills.
The Zaanse Schans
The Zaanse Schans is one of the major tourist attractions in Holland, about half an hours drive from Amsterdam.
In the high season (especially during tulip season and Chinese and Indian holidays) it does get quite busy. The tour guides of Holland Windmills will always try to avoid the crowds. Some of our guides actually used to work in a windmill, so they know where to go and what to see!
The Zaanse Schans gives an impression of what the Zaan area looked like in the 17th and 18th century. It’s a pretty sight on a windy day with clear blue skies, when the windmills spin at full speed. The Zaanse Schans basically is an open air museum where you can have a look at old trades and windmills.
And taste some of the products that are still made here, like chocolate, ginger and cinnamon cookies and spices.
Favourite windmills during Amsterdam tour to windmills
On of our favourite windmills on the Amsterdam tour to windmills is spice mill De Huisman.
It’s one of the smallest and cutest mills of the Zaanse Schans. It used to grind spices from the Dutch East Indies, from what’s now Indonesia. As soon as you enter, you’ll smell spices like cinnamon, cloves and nutmeg. De Huisman still produces mustard, which you can buy there.
Like many mills on the Zaanse Schans, De Huisman is made out of several old mills. The mill body comes from a former snuff mill, the shed from an old paper warehouse. It was restored in 2011 and shows thousands of tourists how the company worked in the distant past.
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