We totally recommend to spend some time in the West Frisian towns of Hoorn, Enkhuizen and Medemblik. Truely lovely wonderful towns, you can see there is more than Amsterdam. You will enjoy a different Holland, great past, art, architecture, history and kind folks!
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Hoorn is a municipality and a town in the Netherlands, in the province of North Holland. It is located on the IJsselmeer, 35 kilometres north of Amsterdam, and acquired city rights in 1357. Hoorn has 70,196 inhabitants (CBS: 3 March 2010). The area of the municipality is 52.49 km² (32.62 km² consists of water, mainly the Markermeer), and consists of the following villages and/or districts: Blokker, Hoorn, Zwaag, and parts of Bangert and De Hulk.
Founded in 716, Hoorn rapidly grew to become a major harbour town. During Holland's 'Golden Age' (or 'Golden Century'), Hoorn was an important home base for the Dutch East India Company (VOC) and a very prosperous centre of trade. The Hoorn fleet plied the seven seas and returned laden with precious commodities. Exotic spices such as pepper, nutmeg, cloves, and mace were sold at vast profits. With their skill in trade and seafaring, sons of Hoorn established the town's name far and wide. Jan Pieterszoon Coen (1587–1629) is famous for his violent raids in Dutch Indies (now Indonesia), where he "founded" the city of Batavia in 1619 (now Jakarta). He has a big statue on the Rode Steen square in the center of Hoorn. In 1618 Willem Ysbrandtsz Bontekoe (1587–1657) undertook his first and only voyage for the VOC. In 1616, the explorer Willem Corneliszoon Schouten braved furious storms as he rounded the southernmost tip of South America. He named it Kaap Hoorn (Cape Horn) in honour of his home town.
Hoorn's fortunes declined somewhat in the eighteenth century. The prosperous trading port became little more than a sleepy fishing village on the Zuiderzee. When the railway and metalled roads came to Hoorn in the late nineteenth century, the town rapidly took its rightful place as a conveniently located and readily accessible centre in the network of towns and villages which make up the province of Noord-Holland. In 1932, the Afsluitdijk, or Great Enclosing Dyke, was completed and Hoorn was no longer a seaport.
On 26 March 2007, Hoorn celebrated 650 years as a city: in 1357 Hoorn was awarded city rights by the Count of Holland after a lump sum payment of 1500 "schilden" to the Count.
Enkhuizen is a municipality and a city in the Netherlands, in the province of North Holland and the region of West-Frisia. Enkhuizen was one of the harbour-towns of the VOC, just like Hoorn and Amsterdam, from where overseas trade with the East Indies was conducted. It received city rights in 1355. In the mid-17th century, Enkhuizen was at the peak of its power and was one of the most important harbour cities in the Netherlands. However, due to a variety of reasons, notably the silting up of the harbours, Enkhuizen lost its position to Amsterdam.
Medemblik was a prosperous trading town, when in 1282, Floris V, Count of Holland, successfully invaded West Friesland. He built several fortresses to control the region, one of which was Kasteel Radboud in Medemblik, and awarded Medemblik city rights in 1289. After Floris V had been murdered in 1296, the local Frisian besieged the castle, but in 1297 an army from Holland thwarted their efforts to starve out the inhabitants, which included Medemblik citizens. Several more attacks took place in the following centuries. The most notorious of these happened in June 1517, when Medemblik was attacked from mainland Frisia by about 4000 pirates known as the Arumer Zwarte Hoop, led by Pier Gerlofs Donia and Wijard Jelckama. Many citizens fled to the castle, which the pirates unsuccessfully besieged. Eventually, they took out their fury on the town, which burned to the ground. After this the band continued their marauding path on land throughout present day North Holland.
Medemblik obtained town walls in 1572, so that the castle lost its roll as a refuge for the citizens, which led to its partially dismantling in 1578. Over the centuries the castle fell into decay, but in 1889 it became property of the crown and was restored to be used as a courthouse, which function it served until 1934. Anticipating the German invasion, the Rijksmuseum in September 1939 chose the castle as the initial hiding place of Rembrandt's Night Watch.
The most exciting journey through time by Steamtram and Boat
! Daily from April-October. The engine whistles and the fireman shovels coal into the firebox. Wooden partitions creak, wheels sing and steam hisses. From the wooden or upholstered seats in your carriage you will experience a story from a different era. Between the historic “Zuiderzee” towns of Hoorn , Medemblik and Enkhuizen steamtrams meander from village to village across the Westfrisian countryside and an old-fashioned steamer with a fantastic saloon-deck sails along the coast of lake IJsselmeer. Do Ppay a visit to the Museum Steamtram and step on board for one of the most thrilling journeys through time. This is the registered Museum focusing on the history of the steam tramways in Holland.
IJselmeer (South Sea) and surroundings
Ĳsselmeer, Lake IJsel, alternative spelling: Lake Yssel) is a shallow artificial lake of 1100 km² in the central Netherlands bordering the provinces of Flevoland, North Holland and Friesland, with an average depth of 5 to 6 m. The Ĳsselmeer is the largest lake in Western Europe. The Ĳsselmeer is a freshwater lake fed through the Ketelmeer by the river IJssel, which gives it its name. It is mainly fed by water from the Rhine since the IJssel is a branch of it.
The Ĳsselmeer was created in 1932 when an inland sea, the South Sea, was closed by a 32 km dam, the Afsluitdijk. This was part of a major hydraulic engineering project known as the Zuiderzee Works, that years later led to the reclaiming of land from the Ĳsselmeer, thereby diminishing the size of the lake.
The Afsluitdijk (Frisian: Ofslútdyk; English: Enclosure Dam) is a major causeway in the Netherlands, constructed between 1927 and 1933 and running from Den Oever on Wieringen in North Holland province, to the village of Zurich in Friesland province, over a length of 32 kilometres (20 mi) and a width of 90 m, at an initial height of 7.25 m above sea-level. It is a fundamental part of the larger Zuiderzee Works, damming off the Zuiderzee, a salt water inlet of the North Sea, and turning it into the fresh water lake of the IJsselmeer.
Previous experiences had demonstrated that boulder clay, rather than just sand or clay, was the best primary material for a structure like the Afsluitdijk, with the added benefit that till was in plentiful supply in the area; it could be retrieved in large quantities by simply dredging it from the bottom of the Zuiderzee. Work started at four points: on both sides of the mainland and on two specially made construction-islands (Kornwerderzand and Breezanddijk) along the line of the future dike.
From these points, the dike slowly grew by ships depositing till into the open sea in two parallel lines. Sand was then poured in between the two dikes and as it emerged above the surface was then covered by another layer of till. The nascent dike was then strengthened from land by basalt rocks and mats of willow switch at its base. The dike could then be finished off by raising it further with sand and finally clay for the surface of the dike, on which grass was planted. Construction progressed better than expected; at three points along the line of the dike there were deeper underwater trenches where the tidal current was much stronger than elsewhere. These had been considered to be major obstacles to completing the dike, but all of them proved to be relatively straightforward. On 28 May 1932, two years earlier than initially thought, the Zuiderzee ceased to be, as the last tidal trench, The Vlieter, was closed by a final bucket of till.
The IJsselmeer was born, even though it was still salty at the time. The dike itself however was not finished yet as it still needed to be brought up to its required height and a road linking Friesland and North Holland also remained to be built. On 25 September 1933, the Afsluitdijk was officially opened, with a monument designed by architect Dudok marking the spot where the dike had been closed.
The amount of material used is estimated at 23 million m3 of sand and 13.5 million m3 of till and over the years an average of around four to five thousand workers were involved with the construction every day, relieving some of the unemployment following the Great Depression.
Beside the dike itself there was also the necessary construction of two complexes of shipping locks and discharge sluices at both ends of the dike. The complex at Den Oever includes the Stevin lock (named after Hendrik Stevin, a son of mathematician and engineer Simon Stevin) and three series of five sluices for discharging the IJsselmeer into the Wadden Sea; the other complex at Kornwerderzand is composed of the Lorentz locks (named after Hendrik Lorentz, the famous physicist, who personally did the calculations of the tides that were crucial to the construction of the Afsluitdijk) and two series of five sluices, making a total of 25 discharge sluices. It is necessary to routinely discharge water from the lake since it is continually fed by rivers and streams (most notably the IJssel river that gives its name to the lake) and polders draining their water into the IJsselmeer.