Flevoland is one of the most special provinces in the Netherlands. The largest reclaimed land area in the world has some beautiful traditional Dutch attractions: space, views and fresh air. Holland Windmills lists the 10 best places in this youngest part of the Netherlands.
Already in the seventeenth century there were plans to tame the Zuiderzee. Our ancestors had to deal with flooding a lot. After the umpteenth storm flood in 1916 – in which many people drowned – the Netherlands was fed up. It was decided to close the Zuiderzee and to reclaim it.
The Noordoostpolder was born in 1942, followed by the Flevopolder. You can still see that you walk on the bottom of the sea everywhere. When the water had dropped, it turned out that the seabed was strewn with wrecks from ships and planes. 435 places are marked with a sign with the story behind the wreck.
Flevoland from the air
A beautiful way to see Flevoland is from the air. From above, Holland really looks like a painting. At Lelystad airport we board a tiny Cessna for four people. “Flevoland is one of the most beautiful provinces to view from an airplane,” says pilot Sylvain de Haas as we skim low over the polder in search of blue skies. “The landscape was created by people and it has many colors and shapes.”
Above the Ketelmeer the sun breaks through. Below us extends a toy landscape with houses, boats, windmills, fields and fields: it can’t get any more Dutch than this.
The old port of Urk
Flevoland is all reclaimed from the water. Well, two pieces of land actually already existed. Urk and Schokland were islands and ‘landed’ on the mainland with the reclamation.
Urk is a wonderfully picturesque village, the kind that they no longer make nowadays, with wooden fishing boats in the harbor, a cute lighthouse and authentic houses. A little further on lies Schokland. This archaeological gold mine was already inhabited ten thousand years ago and is the first World Heritage in the Netherlands.
Urk is also one of the best places in Holland to eat fish. Restaurant De Kaap (‘The Cape’) gets its fish fresh from the auction. It’s situated under the lighthouse and has been named the nicest restaurant in Flevoland. The family business is a household name in the village.
Harbor test models
The Waterloopbos is a very special forest. It is the oldest forest in Flevoland and towers above the flat empty polder. It owes its name to the hydraulic engineering projects that were once tested here. For example, the forest contains scale models of a Libyan port, the Danish North Sea coast and the port of Bangkok.
The installations look surreal between the trees. It is nice to see how nature takes over when humans withdraw. The test models are slowly being taken over by dragonflies, kingfishers and reeds.
All the space in Flevoland is very suitable for landscape art. Scattered across the polder are seven works of art on a monumental scale. You can visit them all in one day, and that is unique in the world.
Almere has a cathedral of trees, for example, and Batavia Stad has a squat figure of steel wire, as high as an apartment building. Pier + Horizon in the so called ‘Black Lake’ is very poetic. The floating artwork looks different every day, due to current and wind.
Playing outside is good for you, no matter how old you are. Netl was started with that philosophy, in the middle of the Noordoostpolder. Chicory was once picked here from the clay, now there is a park where children and adults can play on the mud slide (really, you want that).
You can splash in the water, discover islands, wander through a bamboo maze, or just lie in the grass and watch clouds. You are guaranteed to get dirty. In the evening you can eat well in the beach bar and then spend the night in a gypsy wagon or a sea container.
You can light a campfire in front of your door. The campsite has a real Russian Cold War fighter jet, on the other side a wall with nesting swallows.
Windmills in the water
There’s always wind in the polder. That is why there is a huge wind farm with giant windmills on the coast of the IJsselmeer, in the Noordoostpolder. It is one of the largest in Europe.
In visitor center 11 Beaufort in Urk they know everything about the stormy future of wind energy.
“The technology is getting better,” says wind expert Frans Renne. “A modern windmill with wind power 6 supplies enough power for two families for an entire year in an hour. Thirty years ago you needed an entire wind farm for that. “
The IJsselmeer is the largest lake in the Netherlands and that naturally requires sailing. From Urk you can make a trip with a Rigid Inflatable Boat (RIB). That is a kind of inflatable boat with a few hundred horsepower roaring outboard, so what can go wrong?
First you get a thick overall over everything, because a RIB goes so fast that the clothes ‘storm off your body’, as we say in Holland.
While trying to bypass granite breakwaters on the left and right, you pop over the striking blue water and between the towering windmills. A nice image to die with.
You have sails, and you have catamaran sails. “A catamaran is faster and more stable,” says instructor Richard from beach club and catamaran sailing school Sail Today in Almere. “And more fun.”
You can learn it on Catamaran Beach. Or at least make an effort. With a catamaran you go fast within a few seconds. “To maintain this speed, we must tack quickly,” explains Richard. “Turn the rudder hard, loosen the rigging of the jib, at the same time transfer to the other keel and tighten the jib again. At the same time you keep a close eye on the telltales on the sail for the airflow on the lee side.”
Ehm … what?
Fortunately Richard also has an explanation for dummies. “Pull this rope”, or “send a little to port.” Pull left.”
Even more simply: catamaran sailing is a splash in the IJsselmeer.
In the middle of the Flevopolder are the Oostvaardersplassen, the last wilderness of the Netherlands. It is of international importance as a swamp area and wintering area for birds.
You are not allowed in the area, but you have a magnificent view from the Oostvaardersdijk between Almere and Lelystad. On one side there are vast grasslands, with herds of horses and cattle.
With a bright sun above it looks like Africa. The IJsselmeer is on the other side, with striking blue water as far as the eye can see. The picture does not look like the Netherlands at all. But it is.