For many the joy of European river cruises is being able to explore a country or region in a leisurely, paced way. To meander through its rural landscapes or towns and to witness for yourself the way history has left its indelible mark. A trip through the Dutch rural landscape of Zaanse Schans offers a unique experience in this respect. A living museum, the countryside itself has been preserved to give those visiting a fascinating glimpse into rural Dutch life at the time of its industrial revolution, the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries.
Visitors opt for the European river cruises that pass through this area will witness the key features of Dutch industrial life, with twelve windmills strewn across the landscape, as well as traditional workshops and houses, all perfectly preserved. For those who want to find out more about how people lived and worked at these times, there is also a range of museums dedicated to specific areas of the culture.
How People Lived
Whether you want to find out how people lived in the industrialised Netherlands in the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries or how they worked, there will be a museum at Zaanse Schans for you. Curated in authentic traditional spaces like houses or workshops, the museums aim to bring the past back to life for their visitors, immersing them in the world of the Dutch industrial revolution through interactive displays and exhibitions.
· Jisp One of the highlights of the Zaanse Schans experience is the chance to visit a fully-restored 1850s cottage in the fishing village of Jisp. Once the home of one of the many fishermen who traditionally would have lived here, the cottage includes fascinating features like an original box bed and kitchen. Museum workers, dressed in the traditional costume that would have been worn by the community at the time, add to the authentic ambience.
· Honig Breethuis For a fully rounded view of what the society of the time would have looked like you should also visit Honig Breethuis; a merchant’s house from the 1830s. This illustrates how the richer occupants of the region would have lived.
One of the icons that has long defined the Dutch landscapes, Zaanse Schans has no fewer than twelve traditional windmills for you to explore. Dating back to as early as 1610, the windmills here have been used to mill everything from flour to oil and even paint. Originally used to scoop water from the low-lying ground in order to reclaim the land, these early polder mills were then converted to mill other materials.
Local Craft Workshops
If you are interested in the industry of the period then, as well as the windmills, you should definitely visit some of the fascinating workshops on the site. Using authentic, traditional methods, craftsmen will give you an insight into production of various goods from the time, including wooden clogs and boat sails. Step back in time and see how these items were crafted prior to mass manufacturing.
The best European river cruises give you the opportunity to travel slowly and leisurely through a country, to really get to know its landscape and its people. A trip to Zaanse Schans will certainly add to this experience for anyone taking a river holiday in the Netherlands.
Paul Newman is the Marketing and E-Systems Executive for European Waterways, the UK's most respected provider of all-inclusive, luxury river cruises and barge holidays. If you're looking for the most exciting European river cruises European Waterways is an ideal choice. Part of a team of experienced barging aficionados, Paul is first in line to endorse the perks of a slow-paced barge cruise to anyone looking for a unique holiday experience.