Lemmer – Woudagemaal
The ir. D.F. Woudagemaal in Lemmer, opened in 1920 by Queen Wilhelmina, is the largest steam-driven pumping station in the world still in use. Even today the monumental pumping station ensures that the people of Friesland keep their feet dry during high water. When that happens, the ‘cathedral of steam’ pumps up over four million litres of water per minute from the Frisian ‘boezem’ (drainage pool) into the IJsselmeer.
I really have to admit that our visit to the Woudagemaal was not what we planned to do. We were rather late and there were no guided tours (visits are only possible as part of a guided tour), also because the huge steam cathedral had to be prepared for a function.
We had to be satisfied with a view of the outside of the impressive building, built in the typical Amsterdam School architecture of architect Berlage, with its sober ornamentation. We walked around the building and the high chimney towards the IJsselmeer and headed afterwards to the so called boiler room.
We were allowed to take a look inside and could make a picture of the four mighty oil boilers.
We gathered some information at the visitor information centre for a next visit. Hopefully we can make it when the pumping station is put into operation at extremely high water levels (as it was a couple of time during early winter 2013). We saw pictures and a coverage on TV and these were really stunning !!
Opening hours visitor centre: Tuesday - Saturday 10.00 am - 5.00 pm, Sunday an holidays 1.00 pm - 5.00 pm.
(January closed). There are regularly guided tours from the centre.
Admission fee (Nov 2014): adults € 8,-
See for more info: websiteRelated to:
- Museum Visits
Oranjewoud – beautiful ‘royal’ forest
In 1664 the Frisian Nassau’s bought some heathland east of Heerenveen known as ‘t Wold’. The ‘village’ became its name Oranjewoud (Orange Forest – Orange is the colour of our royal family) in the year of 1676, when Albertina Agnes, Princess of Orange Nassau, after the death of her husband Willem Frederik van Nassau - Stadtholder of Frisia - bought an existing country estate.
Early 18th century her daughter-in-law Henriëtte Amalia van Anhalt-Dessau modernized the manor by (landscape) architect Marot (well known for the construction of Palace Het Loo nearby Apeldoorn). Marot designed two new wings for Oranjewoud, but the central building was never built. The architect also planned the gardens and park around the manor. During the French occupation, both wings were demolished and the property was sold. Two estates were built where the Stadtholder's country house had once stood: Oranjewoud at the site of the old castle and Oranjestein where the home of the steward had been.
Various generations of the Oranje-Nassau family spent their summer at Oranjewoud.
Nowadays Oranjewoud is a very scenic area with lots of woodland, meadows, wonderful estates surrounded by gardens in landscape style. The village of Oranjewoud - attached to Heerenveen - has lovely (farm)houses and a school still named after princess Albertine Agnes. You will not find a ‘centre’ or shops. The only café/restaurant is Hotel Tjaarda.
That is also the best spot to start a visit to the area. Best ways for exploring are on bike or foot. Just in front of the hotel start several signposted walks through the woods of Oranjewoud.
We did it on a bike (as part of a longer ride) and passed the country houses Klein Jagtlust and Prinsenhof before reaching ‘Huize Oranjewoud’ itself. This white plastered house is surrounded by a beautiful garden and a moat. It is private owned and it can not be visited. Opposite of the house is the entrance to the so called ‘Overtuin’, a lovely garden/park in English style, where we made a nice walk.
Behind ‘Huize Oranjewoud’ lies the modern building of Museum Belvédère, museum for modern and contemporary art by Frisian artists. After a short stop at the manor Oranjestein we reached the hamlet Brongerga, which ahs a cemetery with lots of (very) old tombstones and two mausoleums of well known Frisian nobility families. The cemetery houses also an nice so called ‘klokkenstoel’, a separate wooden bell tower, which is typical for Frisia. Nearby stands - on a little hill - the concrete watchtower 'Belvédère', with great views of the area.
Then head to Katlijk; the village has a small church, for us a kind of hidden gem, dating back to early 16th century, located on a 'terp' and surrounded by an old graveyard. The church doesn't have a tower, but also a 'klokkenstoel' with two bells.
On your way back you could stroll around the Ecocathedral in Mildam, which is constructed by Louis Le Roy and volunteers. We found a kind of entrance along the Yntzelaan.
- by bike: just bike along the lanes and enjoy the landscape and country houses, use a map or follow a tour. See for instance a map on the website: http://www.oranjewoud-dorp.nl/pageid=75/Fietsroutes.html
- on foot: walk along the major sights or take one of several signposted walks starting in front of Hotel Tjaarda.
- when staying in Hotel Tjaarda, the hotel has walking or cycling routes; the hotel also has rental bikes.Related to:
- Hiking and Walking
Hindeloopen - picturesque city
Although Hindeloopen - or Hylpen in Frisian language - has less than 1000 inhabitants it is one of the eleven Frisian cities. It received its city rights already in 1225 and became a member of the Hanseatic League in 1368. Hindeloopen developed into a major trading town and owned a fleet of over 100 ships.
The 17th and 18th centuries were golden times. People of Hindeloopen spent a lot of money on precious fabrics and objects. The city developed its own costume and a completely individual style with colourful painted walls and furniture.
Finding a parking place wasn’t too bad during our visit (winter) and we could start our walk through Hindeloopen. We had a guide book with a map, but the old part the city isn’t too big and you could easily stroll around on your own.
We walked around through the narrow streets with often almost ‘tiny’ houses, crossed many wooden bridges and came along canals and ditches. Hindeloopen still has a couple of shops offering the traditional wood painted furniture and other objects and beautiful colourful fabrics.
The quaintest part for us was the area around the lock between the IJsselmeer and the Sylroede, the main channel. In this part of the city you will find a couple of cafes/restaurants, some of them overlooking the IJsselmeer.
We were unlucky because Museum Hindeloopen was closed (open April – October) and lucky we could take a look inside the Grote Kerk, because a service just finished when we arrived. A volunteer - very proud of his church - showed us around and told about the history, which is dating back to 1632.
We finished our walk in the Eerste Friese Schaatsmuseum, at least for Dutchies a must see and had a warm cup of soup on this cold winter day.Related to:
- Museum Visits
- Hiking and Walking
Hindeloopen - Eerste Friese Schaatsmuseum
A visit to this ‘First Frisian Skating Museum’ is for us Dutchies an absolute ‘must do’, when coming to Hindeloopen. The museum is a mixture of a shop, a museum and a cafe/restaurant.
The shop is quite nostalgic and almost a museum itself. It offers pottery and ceramic, sweets, toys, skates and especially a lot of the typical Hindeloopen hand painted wooden furniture and many other objects. There even is an own studio/workshop of a professional painter. Of course there is no admission fee and BIG plus it is open every day of the year (even on a cold day in February, when we visited Hindeloopen).
For a small fee one can visit the Skating Museum and once in the city I highly recommend it. Although not one of these fancy interactive museums, it is quite nice to walk around between the history of (Frisian) skates; from the first skate, made of cow bones, till the modern clap skate, used by speed skaters.
Walking around we saw ‘thousands’ of different skates, a lot of them from famous Frisian factories like Nooigedagt in IJlst. With some imagination one can get an impression about the making of skates in some original workshops like a force and a carpenter’s workshop. Other exhibits are roller (old fashioned) skates and toboggans.
The Elfstedenzaal (Eleven cities room) shows everything about the history of this 100 year old skating event in Friesland. Every winner (and some other Frisian skaters) are honoured with their own showcase, exhibiting clothes, skates, medals, trophies, documents and so on. The museum even has the skates of our prince Willem Alexander, who once participated in the hardest skating contest of the world.
The cafe/restaurant has typical Hindeloopen (= painted) furniture and offers pancakes, other meals/snacks and of course a drink. For us a pleasant finish of our Hindeloopen visit.
Opening hours: Monday – Saturday 10.00 am – 6.00 pm; Sunday 1.00 - 5.00 pm
Admission fee (2013): adults € 3.00Related to:
- Museum Visits
Leeuwarden - Nassau/city walk
First we intended to do just the Nassau walk, but it turned out this walk offers a limited number of Nassau-sights. And about the half of these sites were not open for public at the moment we visited Leeuwarden. So we merged this walk with another one, called ‘Route Topmonumenten’. We could download both walks and made our own itinerary. It is also possible to download MP3 files (only Dutch) and in front of most of the sites are information panels in English and Dutch.
We were lucky to stay in Hotel Paleis Stadhouderlijk Hof, which is one of the major sights in Leeuwarden. I highly recommend going inside and ask if you are allowed to take a look in the beautiful Nassauzaal.
Just opposite the (former) palace - at the same square - is the town hall. In 1715 three year old Willem Karel Hendrik Friso, prince of Oranje-Nassau, laid the first brick for the building. I really don’t know if one can visit the inside, but if interested you could give it a try.
Next stop - not on our map, but well signposted - was ‘Museum De Grutterswinkel’. This is quite an old building and since 1901 it was used as home and grocery. Since these days hardly anything has changed. We had our lunch in the coffee room.
The landmark of Leeuwarden is the crooked tower ‘Oldenhove’, which is located on an ugly empty square; the tower can be climbed. Not far away we reached the Princessehof (Princesses court), home for many years of princess Maria Louise van Hessen Kassel. Nowadays it houses a ‘Keramiekmuseum’.
Through the not very impressive ‘Prinsentuin’, a park laid out for the viceroy's family, we reached the buildings of the Nieuw Sint Anthony Gasthuis, surrounded by beautiful gardens.
Along the ‘Fries Natuurhistorisch Museum’ - a former orphanage – and through a narrow street we reached the square with the Grote- of Jacobijnerkerk, dating back to the 13th century. The church has very limited opening hours so we couldn’t see the burial ground for the Nassau family. Outside we had to do it with the ‘Oranjepoortje', the private entrance for the royal family.
Nearby ‘Waalsekerk’ is almost never open for visitors, so you could head to the ‘Bonifatiuskerk', built between 1882 and 1884 by famous Dutch architect P.J.H. Cuypers. The doors of this church also kept closed for us.
Walking along the remarkable art-nouveau building of the ‘Centraal Apotheek’ (Voorstreek 58), we came onto the ‘Turf- and Tweebaksmarkt’. These old market places do offer some interesting buildings, among them: the ‘Fries Museum’, with a richly decorated façade and the ‘Provinsjehûs’ (House of the Province).
We ended our walk along the monuments in the city centre, where the ‘Waag’ is situated, a weigh-house from the 15th century, were lots of butter cheese and meat were weighed. Nowadays it is a café/restaurant for a well deserved cup of coffee.
Interesting websites for this walk
De Grutterswinkel: www.museum-de-grutterswinkel.nl
Grote Kerk: www.grotekerkleeuwarden.nl > Open kerk
Fries Museum: www.friesmuseum.nl/museum/visit?language=en
Map Nassauroute: www.aedlevwerd.nl/projecten/nassauroute/projecten/nassauroute/plattegrond-nassauroute.pdf
Map Top Monumenten: www.aedlevwerd.nl/projecten/topmonumenten/projecten/topmonumenten/plattegrond-topmonumentenroute.pdfRelated to:
- Hiking and Walking
- Arts and Culture
Leeuwarden - Keramiekmuseum Princessehof
Princess Maria Louise van Hessen-Kassel served, after the death of her husband Johan Willem Friso - prince of Orange-Nassau, as regent for her son till 1731. Then she moved to the Princessehof (Princesses court), where she lived from 1731 till her death in 1765. Princess Maria Louise owned an important porcelain collection.
The former 16th century Liauckamastins, together with two other buildings, was rebuilt to one palace. Later the residences were inhabited by rich and wealthy people. In 1916 the city council of Leeuwarden bought the palace as a shelter for the china collection of notary Ottema and in 1970 it became ‘Keramiekmuseum Princessehof’ (Princessehof Ceramics Museum).
After our Nassau/city walkwe had some spare time and decided to visit the Princessehof. We started our tour in the so called ‘Nassaukamer’, the only remaining room of the ‘royal’ era with gold-leather wallpaper, a beautiful ceiling, chandelier and some painting; of course decorated with the first ceramic exhibits.
Through a room with beautiful art nouveau ceramic we reached the ‘Europe room’, with Delftware and other ceramics from the Netherlands and Friesland, Meissen and Wedgwood ceramic and a huge tableau of Portuguese tiles. The ground floor also has an almost complete workshop of Dutch potter Jan van der Vaart; we just missed the artist himself.
The first floor houses mainly ceramics from Japon, China and other Asian countries, as well as tiles and vases from Islamite countries. Sometimes the number of plates and vases was more than overwhelming.
The attic has some huge modern ceramic art objects, among them a very colourful object by Karel Appel.
The museum has a nice tea/coffee room and an interesting shop for an original gift. The shop can also be visited directly from the Grote Kerkstraat.
Opening hours: Tuesday through Sunday 10.00 am – 5.00 pm
Admission fee (2013): adults € 8,00Related to:
- Arts and Culture
- Museum Visits
Leeuwarden - Museum ‘De Grutterswinkel’
The shop is tucked between the ‘Waag’ and the ‘Oldenhove’ in a side street. The building itself dates back to 1596 and underwent several renovations. The history of the grocery store begins in 1901, when the property was bouight by the family Feenstra, who began as a wholesaler in colonial, grocery goods. Later it became a regular grocery store, which was in operation till 1973 by the daughters Feenstra.
Once we entered the shop, we stepped back in time. We are standing in a period shop with two counters and everywhere old fashioned goods; sweets from grandmother's time in glass jars, grits and peas and many nostalgic products and still having a regular checkout.
We had a cup of tea in the former living room, which was served in an old fashioned pot and kept warm on a tea-light. There are also local delights available. Of course, everything is decorated with period furniture, flower wallpaper and green floor tiles. The shop also sells original gifts and nostalgic toys.
Under the store is a 400 year old wine cellar, which like the shop can be visited for free. On the first floor are a few rooms decorated like a museum. One of the rooms - with many recognizable 'historical' objects - shows the circumstances in which people once lived. In addition there is a small alcove and a toilet with pieces of newsprint as toilet paper. In one room temporary exhibitions are organized. For this 'museum', a small fee is payable. The museum is operated by volunteers, who look like and act as very friendly grandmas.
See for opening hours their website.
There is a connection with the ‘Boomsma Museum’, where one can travel back in time to the distillery of the traditional bitters of Boomsma and can taste the famous ‘Beerenburg’.Related to:
- Museum Visits
Wolvega - Rottige Meente, beautiful scenery
The beautiful nature reserve ‘De Rottige Meente’ is a peat bog, featuring a patchwork of so called ‘petgaten’ (manmade canals), reed lands and marshes. The peat here was several yards thick. The peat was reclaimed along the so called ‘Voetpad’ (footpath) and small villages like Scherpenzeel and Spanga were built. After turning to peat, the area was initially converted into pasture.
‘De Rottige Meente’ offers the same kind of landscape as the well known area of the ‘Weerribben’, but nature here is unadulterated without the crowds of tourists.
After a coffee break in Wolvega on our way home from Friesland, we decode to make a short bike ride in the nature reserve of ‘De Rottige Meente’. We found a car park along the main road and started our bike trip, following the service road for about 3 km’s tot the turning for the village of Scherpenzeel. There stands a memorial column for Peter Stuyvesant (the last Dutch Director-General of the colony of New Netherland/New York), who lived a couple of years in this area.
We turned back and took after about 200 metres the so called ‘Voetpad’ (there is a sign with ‘FIETSPAD’), a very narrow bike path covered with shells. We were now biking right through the beautiful nature of ‘De Rottige Meente’. On our left hand side the villages of Scherpenzeel (with the church were Stuyvesant’s father was a minister) and Munnekeburen, on our right hand side the ‘petgaten’, reed lands and pieces of woodland with lots of birds.
Along the ‘Voetpad’ we were ‘welcomed’ by art objects and panels with poems (at home we discovered they were part of a biennale art event ‘Kunst aan de Scheene’). Every now and then we passed small houses, now used for recreational accommodation.
At the end of the ‘Voetpad’ - about 4 km’s - we had a ‘steep’ climb to the dike along the ‘Jonkers (or Heloma) Vaart’, passing the ruins of an watermill we reached the windmill ‘De Rietvink’ (about 700 metres); beautifully located on the banks of the canal and next to a lock of a small river ‘De Scheene’.
We continued along the so called ‘Scheenepad’ along the river Scheene, crossing narrow wooden bridges, passing idyllic peat workers cottages and through a breathtaking landscape. After 1 km we had to cross the river over another bridge.
From this point we had to walk, because it was too swampy to bike, despite of a boardwalk on some places. Due to the moisture in this marshland we were ‘attacked’ by many mosquitoes. This wasn’t the most pleasant 1000 metres of our bike trip. (If you find the same conditions, I would suggest returning to the lock/mill and continue along the canal till you reach the Peter Stuyvesantweg, turn right and bike along the service road till you reach the car park.)
Some interesting websites around this bike trip
Peter Stuyvesant: http://nl.wikipedia.org/wiki/Peter_Stuyvesant
Art event Kunst aan de Scheene: www.kunstaandescheene.nl
Picture of the mill ruin: www.flickr.com/photos/jan_g_slump__echtenerbrug/2706024697/
Mill De Rietvink: www.molenderietvink.nl
Walk Rottige Meente: http://home.wanadoo.nl/tyr/heemkund/wrout1.htmRelated to:
- National/State Park
- Hiking and Walking
Appelscha - National Park ‘Drents-Friese Wold’
One of the largest areas of natural beauty in the Netherlands is National Park Drents-Friese Wold. Over 6000 hectares of forest, heath land, shifting sands and river valley grasslands were designated to become a national park in the year 2000.
We started our visit of National Park Drents-Friese Wold at the visitor centre in Terwisscha, near Appelscha. After having a coffee with an apple pie, we did take a look in the centre, which has a permanent exhibition about the park. We did get information for a bike ride and were ready to start.
We used the so called ‘knooppuntroutes’; this is a route along numbered intersections, which you can make by yourself (see: http://www.fietsersbond.nl/fietsersbond-routeplanner). We did the following route: 83 > 85 > 88 > 82 > 23 > 62 . 61 > 63 > 91 > detour to Appelscha > 83, which was about 25 km’s.
Soon after leaving the information centre we reached the Aekingerzand - also called Kale Duinen (Bold Dunes). This area of shifting sands is more or less the heart of the park. We were surprised to see this kind of landscape in Friesland, as it looked more like the Veluwe with its shifting sands. The bike path is meandering through the soft rolling hills across the Aekingerzand. We passed a watchtower and reached the ‘Grenspoel’, a pool at the edge of the sand and heathlands; an idyllic spot for a break.
There is a huge fenced area, where sheep are walking around. Although walking, we only saw them resting along the bike path in the shadow of a tree. Perhaps it was too warm for other activities.
Along the green brook valley of the Vledder AA we came back into the park and passed again some fens and heathlands. Biking through forests we came nearby Appelscha and decided to make a detour to the village, but it turned out to be not very interesting. After a couple of hours we reached the finish of our bike trip at the information centre of the park. We were absolutely impressed by the unexpected beauty of the Drents-Friese Wold.
It is possible to rent a bike in Appelscha: http://www.fietsverhuurappelscha.nl/Related to:
- National/State Park
- Hiking and Walking
Mildam - Ecocathedral
An ecocathedral can be defined as a stacked structure of residual materials from pavers, such as paving stones, clinker bricks, concrete bollards and curbs. This kind of material is arranged from the year of 1982 into a complex structure, in which nature has an equal share. There are no construction drawings, but the shape of the structures depend on the supplied building material.
The project was started by Louis Le Roy - a famous Dutch architect. After Le Roy deceased in 2012 the project will be continued by a foundation and volunteers still stack the rough material. The work will continue as there is no end time to capture. The importance of the time factor in spatial processes and working with complex, dynamic systems is the significance of Le Roy’s ideas behind the project.
It was quite difficult to find the ecocathedral near Mildam; as it is not considered a touristic attraction by the foundation and its volunteers, there are no signs or so. We had the small map from their website but couldn’t find the more or less official parking places. When driving on the Yntzelaan we saw a pile of bricks along the road and having seen pictures of the ecocathedral we supposed it should be our ‘destination’.
Again: there are no signs or an entrance and we walked into the woodlands, following a narrow meandering path. We saw right and left ingenious structures of old building material without using cement. Some of them were stacked till real towers, while others were just some curbs around a thin tree. Walls and ‘buildings’ sometimes were almost completely overgrown by moss, ferns and other plants. It did look if we found the traces of an ancient civilization.
Our visit of this ecocathedral was an intriguing experience. Be aware it is not an attraction, but a ‘green workshop’, so there are no facilities (parking places, toilets) for visitors and you will have to find your own way through the structures. The ecocathedral is ‘open’ all year round and the re is no admission fee.
Address: Yntzelaan, Mildam; see for map http://ecocathedral.org/nl/ecokathedralen
Guided tour: for a guided tour ask for information at: email@example.comRelated to:
Beetsterzwaag – one kilometer of nobility
Beetsterzwaag used to be a village of distinction where the Frisian nobility had their country-houses. As early as the 17th century Beetsterzwaag was defined as “a village with small patches of fertile farmland, with beautiful trees in abundance and a well-paved main street”.
Even up to now the village has preserved this character, with its at least three and a half-century-old main street. The splendidly designed gardens and ancient houses are the silent witnesses of the wealthy nobility of the 17th and 18th centuries.
We visited Beetsterzwaag (Beetstersweach in Frisian language) as part of a bike trip from Oranjewoud. As soon as we reached the village we stored our bikes and walked along the ‘Hoofdstraat’. This is the main street and showed us all the heritage of the past with a couple of country-houses and mansions like Lyndenstein, Eysingahuis and Lycklamahûs (nowadays part of the town hall). These houses are dating back to the 18th and 19th century.
(A little bit further away – we didn’t visit – lies the country house of ‘Lauswolt’, nowadays a well known hotel.)
Opposite Lyndenstein - across the street - is the so called ‘Overtuin Lydenstein’, an almost 200 years old English landscape garden, where we walked around one of the ponds. Lycklamahûs has also an ‘Overtuin’. Part of this garden is a complex of smaller greenhouses, known as "De Tropische Kas". This greenhouse is over 80 years old now and some of the plants accommodated in it are of almost the same age. We saw a varied collection of tropical plants and ‘Frisian’ flowers and got an explanation of a very friendly volunteer. There is no admission fee, although a donation is appreciated. See for opening hours and more info: http://www.tropischekas.nl/
The ‘Hoofdstraat’ offers on a length of one kilometer also a remarkable number of nice shops/boutiques, art galleries and restaurants. We made one short detour - through the ‘Van Lyndenlaan’ - to the village church, which is surrounded by a cemetery with old tombstones.
We finished our walk/visit on a lovely terrace of restaurant Baboeshka for a well deserved coffee with cake, before we had to bike back to our hotel.Related to:
- Hiking and Walking
Workum and Jopie Huisman Museum
Workum is one of the eleven Frisian cities; it became city rights in the year of 1399. But the town is much older and was already mentioned in 907. Characteristic for Workum is the ribbon building along a canal, which ran in the middle of a long street. Despite the fact that Workum is not situated directly by the sea, it fully participated in the overseas trade.
The center of Workum is concentrated around the ‘Merk’. This market square is surrounded by a couple of beautiful building: the town hall (15ht century), a weighing house (1650), nowadays housing the tourist information office and a small local museum and the St. Gertrudis Church (1480) with a remarkable detached tower. We had a nice cup of coffee on one of the sidewalk cafes on the ‘Merk’.
Opposite the weighing house stands 'It Pottebakkershûs', a mixture of a cafe/restaurant, pottery, shop and on the first floor a small - free - museum. They also sell typical 'kerfsnee (carved) pottery' (http://www.itpottebakkershus.nl/).
Just 50 meters from the market square you will find by far the most important sight of Workum: Jopie Huisman Museum. For us it was more or less the reason of visiting Workum. The museum is located in a building, which looks like a couple of sheds. It was the wish of Jopie Huisman to expose his work in a simple building, built out of materials as rougher wood, bricks and steel.
Jopie Huisman was a dealer in second-hand goods and scrap metal merchant, who taught himself to paint. Often his second-hand merchandise was subject of his paintings. The museum offers a lot of his paintings, self portraits and drawings. We were absolutely surprised by the beauty of his work; most of them are absolutely realistic and show unbelievable details.
The museum has a café and a shop. It was not allowed to takes pictures inside the museum.
See for opening hours and admission fee: www.jopiehuismanmuseum.nl
!! Looking for a nice gift: consider buying a piece of the characteristic ‘Workumer Aardewerk’; pottery with a warm brown colour and yellow decorations !!Related to:
- Museum Visits
- Arts and Culture
Strolling around in Sneek
Sneek - or Snits as people say in Frisian language - is one of the larger cities in Friesland. It became its official city rights in 1456 and is one of the eleven Frisian cities.
It has a more or less compact centre, surrounded by canals. There is a pedestrian area with quite a lot attractive local shops, but Sneek also has the inevitable (inter)national brand stores. Squares are offering enough (outdoor) cafes and the city has a varied choice of restaurants.
Despite being an old city the centre itself has a lack of impressive architecture; to be honest in my opinion it looks a little bit messy, without certain uniformity.
When strolling around we still passes a couple of interesting sights/buildings (most of them are signposted, otherwise ask a leaflet/town map at the Tourist Information Centre). The first beautiful building we saw, was the town hall, dating back to the 15th century. It has a rococo façade and baroque steps. I really don’t know if it possible to take a look inside, but you could give it a try.
Nearby stands de Martini Church, built in 1498, with a remarkable separate wooden tower..
The Waterpoort (Watergate) is the landmark of the city. This brick city gate, built in 1613, was part of the defense system of Sneek as a protection of the port entrance. Although being part of fortifications it is an elegant structure with decorations and two turrets. If you are lucky you may enjoy the lovely reflections of the gate in the water of the river Geeuw.
(Sneek also has a couple of museums: Frisian Shipping Museum and Sneek Local Antiquities Room and the National Model Railway Museum).Related to:
- Hiking and Walking
‘Museum Joure’ - as many museums in smaller towns in the Netherlands - offers exhibitions about local/regional historical and cultural objects and trades. Of course there is much attention for the history of Douwe Egberts – the famous Dutch coffee roaster, which still is the major factory in town.
After a warm and friendly welcome at the information and cash desk, we started our self guided tour through the museum in the first building; ‘Johannes Hessel Pakhuis’. This warehouse - dating back to 1898 - was originally a factory of Douwe Egberts. On the ground floor we walked along (nice smelling) exhibits of coffee, tea and tobacco.
On the first floor there is attention for the flora and fauna of the region; to be honest for us a little bit out of place in such a kind of museum.
The museum houses also Egbert Douwes - founder of the company - birth house. This house was moved stone by stone from a nearby village Idskenhuizen, where Egbert was born in 1723. We always wonder how large families could live in such small houses. Look also at the almost tiny box-beds.
Other former industrial buildings, which form an attractive group, house and/or are showing old Frisian trades from the 19th century. There is a large collection of (famous and expensive) Frisian clocks in a room called ‘It Sael’, a former copper foundry.
In other buildings we did see a clockmaker, brass founder, copper- gold- and silversmith and a pressman. It was a bonus to see some of these craftsmen at work in such a historical setting.
Walking through a garden with modern art we reached De Witte Os’, the shop where Egbert Douwes started trading colonial wares in 1753. It now looks if time has stood still and gives an excellent idea of the past. The shop is part of the museum and sells old fashioned Dutch sweets, unpacked coffee and tea and other gifts.
Next to the shop is situated ‘Pand 99’, the house of family De Jong, founders of Douwe Egberts. It has a room with period furniture (end 19th century).
There is also a coffee/tearoom, where we finished our museum visit with a cup of - of course - DE coffee.
Museum: Geelgietersstraat 1,
‘De Witte Os’: Midstraat 97 (main shopping street)
Museum: Tuesday through Friday 10.00 am - 5.00 pm, Saturday, Sunday and Monday 2.00 pm – 5.00 pm
‘De Witte Os’: see website ‘Bezoekers’ > ‘Algemeen’
Museum (2013): adults € 4,00
‘De Witte Os’: free of chargeRelated to:
- Museum Visits
- Arts and Culture
Joure, Douwe Egberts ‘vlecke’
Douwe Egberts is the most well known and famous Dutch coffee roaster. Already in 1753 Egbert Douwes opened a shop in Joure, named "De Witte Os’’, selling a large variety of goods: coffee, tobacco and tea were their main products, but they also sold sweets, sugar, rice, vermicelli, chicory, cinnamon, saffron, syrup, vinegar, chocolate and dried fruit.
His son Douwe Egberts was also in ‘coffee business’ and joined his parents. Although his father was well known in Joure, it was Douwe Egberts who was responsible for the expansion of the company and still has the name ‘Douwe Egberts’.
Joure calls itself a ‘vlecke’ (a Frisian word), indicating a place larger than a village, but smaller than a town. Yet it is very pleasant to walk around enjoying the quiet Frisian way of life.
Everywhere in the village one can feel and smell the history of Douwe Egberts. When arriving in Joure you can not miss the huge coffee cup nearby the entrance to the centre. The town/village still has a huge Douwe Egberts factory.
Joure also has a so called "Douwe Egberts Café", including a (gift) shop. Dutch housewife’s, who have saved points from DE-coffee or tea packets, are changing these points into presents. It is also possible to buy tea or coffe with these points (http://www.de.nl/dekoffiecafe/dekoffiecafes/pages/douweegberts-joure.aspx).
"De Witte Os" (The White Ox) is located in the main shopping street. This is where Egbert Douwes started trading colonial wares in 1753. It now looks if time has stood still and gives an excellent idea of the past. The shop is part of Museum Joure and sells old fashioned Dutch sweets and unpacked coffee and tea. I bought some of my favourite cinnamon sticks.
Next to the shop is the entrance to the museum, a cluster of buildings focusing on old Frisian trades from the 19th century. For us the most interesting building was the "Johannes Hessel Warehouse" (next to the entrance building), which was the first factory of the Douwe Egberts company, built in 1898. It offers objects concerning coffee, tea and tobacco. The museum now houses also Egbert Douwes birth house.
For opening hours, fees and directions see website www.museumjoure.nl > Bezoekers > Algemeen.
After all these sightseeing we had a nice cup of coffee on one of the sidewalk cafés and ‘of course’ it was a cup of Douwe Egberts coffee. I think you will not find any other brand in Joure !!Related to:
- Historical Travel
- Museum Visits
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