Visiting and discovering the Netherlands within a short time is quite tricky since there are so many things to see in this country. It is interesting to see how the Netherlands has grown from old cities of traders and fishermen to a country of freedom, equality, and down-to-earth people. This blog focuses on the history and cultural heritages in the North and South Holland, two provinces in the Western part of the Netherlands. Yes you read it right, the name “Holland” is not a country but a region divided into two provinces in the Netherlands. Below you will find the top five places that make you truly taste the Dutch culture and history.
Five places to experience Dutch culture and history in South and North Holland
1. De Zaanse Schans North Holland
The 18th and 19th centuries life in the Netherlands has been brought to life through the modern day Zaanse Schans, a municipality in the North Holland. The name Zaanse Schans originated from the river Zaan, which is used as sconce (schansin Dutch), a small fort that served as a Dutch defense against the Spanish during the Eighty Years’ War of Dutch Independence (1568–1648). Zaanse Schans depicts the Dutch way of living in the farms surrounded by windmills, wooden houses, fields, and establishments such as wooden clogs, cheese, and chocolate factories. This popular tourist destination, which is 20 minutes ride by car and 40 minutes by public transport from Amsterdam Central Station, has been considered as part of European Route of Industrial Heritage (ERIH).
2. Egmond aan Zee
Similar to other villages along the coasts of the North sea, this small village in North Holland has faced battles between the land and the sea since the early time of 977. Many houses including church and towers have been swallowed by sea for certain periods in the history, but this municipality still remains to thrive up to the present period. For instance, “fisherman-houses” can still be find near the sea. Nowadays, Egmond aan Zee has been popular to people who love to spent tranquility in the beaches and sand dunes and taste excellent seafoods in fish restaurants.
For many people who hear the Netherlands, Amsterdam is the first place that comes to their mind. Located in the North Holland, Amsterdam is the capital of The Netherlands and is well-known for Schiphol airport, water channels or canals, historical museums, night life, and coffee shops offering soft drugs (e.g. weeds/marijuana). Despite being expensive and considered as the densest area in Europe, Amsterdam is visited by over 20 million people (10X the population) every year. This city has 165 canals, 1515 bars and cafes, approximately 2500 houseboats that are literally lived by residents while others are for rent, and 881,000 bikes (Awesome Amsterdam). If you don’t mind being in highly touristic area, then Amsterdam is a place to visit.
4. Lisse Keukenhof, South Holland
Keukenhof (in South Holland) is considered as the largest and the most popular flower and tulips field in the world. It features seven million spring flowering bulbs, which are prepared for planting in the autumn, from different bulb growers and exporters. Interestingly, the Dutch tulips are not native to the Netherlands. The tulips originated from Turkey, and these bulbs were imported to Holland in the 16th century. Later on, the tulips became popular in The Netherlands and was cultivated in many gardens, used in festivals, and became subject of many paintings. Nowadays, the best landscape architecture of tulips is manifested via Keukenhof. Similar to Amsterdam, this place is very touristic thus planning your visit on weekdays and out of holidays is recommended.
5. Madurodam in The Hague, South Holland
Located in The Hague in the province of South Holland, Madurodam showcases the history of the Netherlands and what makes this country in the present era. Some of the important developments include how the Dutch transformed sea into land, the operation of the cargo ships in the Port of Rotterdam and of the airplanes in Schiphol airport, and how bidding of flowers in flower auction takes place. These developments are shown through miniatures of historical buildings and cities, trains, airports, boats, parks, and people on a scale of 1:25. A day-out in this place is a perfect way to complete the historical and cultural experience of the Netherlands.