Again another lovely day so we headed out to Zaanse Schans, a re-created Dutch village. The majority of the buildings including the windmills, which date from the 18th century, were brought here in the 1970’s. All the buildings are either run as businesses or are lived in year round.
In the nearest town Zaandam the main manufacturing for years was chocolate and biscuits and there was a very distinctive smell in the air as we looked around the village.
It was an interesting place to wander around especially the eight all working windmills strung along the River Zaan. One was a converted to a museum telling the history of the different uses made of the windmills in the region from grinding spices particularly mustard,pressing oil, grinding dyes, making paper and to saw wood.
After Zaanse Schans we headed east to what is now Ijsselmeer formally the Zuider Zee to one of the Old Dutch fishing villages Marken. The Zuider Zee or Southern Sea caused for many years a danger of flooding when storms and high tides combined to breach the coastal defences. Since 1667 there were plans to seal off and reclaim the Zuider Zee but it was not until after devastating floods in 1916 did plans of building a dyke actually start to happen. The Afsluitdijk was finally completed in 1932 and the Zuider Zee became the fresh water Ijsselmeer. For the next 40 years land reclamation schemes were undertaken creating 1460 square kilometres.
Until 1957 when a road was constructed Marken was an island in the Zuider Zee .The village of the same name was the island’s one and only village. The houses in the village mainly painted dark green were built originally on stilts to allow the sea to roll under the houses in bad weather. Most have been panelled in since the dyke was built but looking carefully we were able to spot one or two. We walked around the town and a large part of the original island before enjoying a drink overlooking the harbour.