The Netherlands, in North West Europe, conjures up images of tulips, windmills and canals. It is a very flat country with extensive, dedicated cycling routes. Amsterdam, the capital city, is seen as romantic and historic, home to the Van Gogh museum. The city is synonymous with its labyrinth of canals, all accessible by bicycle, a very popular mode of transport here. Amsterdam is often referred to as the ‘Venice of the North,’ and for good reason. The canal systems form a UNESCO world heritage site.
There are still over a 1000 windmills spread across the country. Zaanse Schans on the river Zaan, is a district where history is brought to life through museums of 18th and 19th century culture and history. The workshops and activities take visitors back in time. This district has a large number of well preserved, unique working windmills. Each has its own purpose and distinctive features, with an individual name, for example, Windmill ‘De Kat’ (The Cat) built in 1781. This mill is the only remaining working windmill in the world which still makes paint. ‘De Zoeker’ (The Seeker) which dates back to 1672 but it is believed to have been active for 60 years prior is the only known mill still producing oil. It’s a fascinating area to explore and discover Dutch heritage.
The Netherlands has been closely connected to the sea throughout history, and a visit to the Maritime Museum in Amsterdam is a great place to start if you want to discover more.
Amsterdam has the highest density of museums in the world, with over 60 of them. A seriously inspiring capital city, there’s something to entice everyone. From its art museums featuring works of classical to modern art, to its vibrant cafés and canal side bars, Amsterdam has an easy going atmosphere with some wonderful cycling routes to explore.
Dutch heritage would not be complete without mentioning its link to the tulips of Amsterdam. You may be surprised to learn, however, that tulips were originally cultivated in the Ottoman Empire, and were imported into Holland in the sixteenth century. In Turkish culture the tulip was a symbol of paradise on earth and had almost a divine status. So when admiring your garden tulips, remember they are a symbol of paradise, and perhaps a little part of your garden can be too.