Culture and transgression
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- Holland, Netherlands
- North Holland
- Spoken language:
Schengen Area: ID card or passport
Extra U.E.:short says (3 months) passaport valid at least three months after the departing date and if need be visa
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Taking real out-of-town trips is really easy from Amsterdam. In the surroundings there are many Dutch jewels to visit, often easily reachable and in a couple of minutes. Here are the best known locations.
The Zaanse Schans can be considered one of the main tourist resorts in Holland. It is an area, truly unique in its kind, residential and industrial, which houses museums, mills, shops, demonstrations of old crafts, restaurants, a visitor centre and a service for boat rides. The area represents a glimpse of how this region, the Zaanstreek, was presented in the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries. Windmills, traditional green or black wooden houses, warehouses, bridges, are a perfect testimony of a long gone past and give the impression of being in a fairytale landscape.
The Zaanse Schans is just 15 kilometres northwest of Amsterdam and is easily accessible by car, train or bus. Just four stops (20 minutes) from Amsterdam Central Station. Take the local train to Alkmaar and get off at Koog-Zaandijk. From the station follow the signs for the Zaanse Schans. From Amsterdam Central Station, very convenient, bus 91 (every half hour).
Info Zaanse Schans
Schansend 7, 1509 AW Zaandam
Tel. +31(0)75 6810000
Fax +31 (0)75 6176980
MARKEN and VOLENDAM
Marken, once an island, from 1957 is connected through a dam to the mainland. It is an ancient fishing village well preserved, with brightly coloured wooden houses, manicured gardens, narrow streets and graceful drawbridges on the canals. This wonderful place is easily reached by bus (No. 110) starting from Amsterdam (Central station). A ferry service (Marken Express), from March to October, runs between Marken and Volendam in about 30 minutes. After about fifteen km in the midst of green meadows with hundreds of cows and sheep, you will arrive on the islet of Marken where the fishing village is as when they built it in 1800. The view will leave you speechless, splendid are the houses that seem to have come directly out of a fairytale and the lovely marina. The locals are mostly Protestants and have always constituted a closed community, not very prone to modernity. Many people, especially in the festive periods, still wear traditional costumes today. The Marken Museum, a museum of local traditions is not to be missed. Its location is made of four lookhuisjes, or houses with holes, so called because instead of the chimney they have a simple opening to let out the smoke. From the marina you can take the ferry which in 20 minutes will take you to VOLENDAM, also an ancient fishing village, famous all over the world. Also here you will be enraptured by the cottages, the fishing boats and the kiosks that serve excellent sandwiches with freshly caught herring. Of course Volendam is a larger and more crowded than Marken, but still charming. If you are a cheese lover, you may, depending on the time, want to visit the nearby town of EDAM, perhaps on the days when the cheese market takes place (on Wednesdays in July and August). Otherwise you can always buy some from a local producer in the main square. To get back to Amsterdam you just need to take a bus either n. 110, 112, 114 or 116.
It represents an important testimony of the history of the region, since its origins date back to the 11th century and it was met with prosperity in the golden Age. It is known to most for the artist Frans Hals (with the homonymous museum dedicated to him) and for the Cathedral of St. Bavo (14th century), which possesses one of the largest pipe organs in the world (an amazing 9,000 canes).
The imposing cathedral dominates the main square, the Grote Markt, from which the central pedstrian streets branch out, worth a visit because truly fascinating. Also noteworthy is the Teylers Museum (arts and Sciences, founded in 1778, it is the oldest in Holland) and the typical internal courtyards (‘ hofje ‘).
At Haerlem there are also three mills (De Adriaan in Papentorenvest 1a, de Hommel in Molenplas and de Eenhoorn in Zuid-Schalkwijkerweg 1)
To get to the town take the train to Haarlem from the central station (about 15 minutes of travel).
UTRECHT AND KASTEEL DE HAAR
The important University Center will amaze you with its masterpiece: the medieval architecture that makes up the old town, together with the houses built during the Golden Age by the rich merchants. The origin of the city is clearly Roman so that close to the Duomo one can still admire the remains. The church, unfortunately, was destroyed by a hurricane in the distant 1647 but the bell tower, Domtoren, inexplicably resisted. It is the tallest bell tower in Holland: 112 meters and 13 bells. You can also visit the nearby Museumkwartier, with the city’s main museums.
Utrecht is reachable by train from Amsterdam in about 35 minutes towards Utrecht Centraal.
Before returning to Amsterdam, from the bus station, number 127 direction Breukelen/Kockengen and get off at Haarzuilens: with a short walk you will be enchanted by Kasteel De Haar. It is a castle that doesn’t really have anything to envy to the fairy tales. Located in the village of Haarzuilens, it has a medieval origin and was rebuilt in neo-Gothic style in the late 19th century by the architect Cuypers, who also reconstructed the adjoining village. It is open all year round and the entrance (adults, including the visit to the park) is about 8.50 euros.
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