Fun things to do in Provincie Friesland

  • Arriving at the Crackstate Heerenveen.
    Arriving at the Crackstate Heerenveen.
    by Jerelis
  • Refelection of the Crackstate.
    Refelection of the Crackstate.
    by Jerelis
  • The front facade seen through the gate.
    The front facade seen through the gate.
    by Jerelis

Most Viewed Things to Do in Provincie Friesland

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    Appelscha - National Park ‘Drents-Friese Wold’

    by vtveen Written Feb 22, 2013

    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/

    ���Drents-Friese Wold���, Grenspoel ���Drents-Friese Wold���, Grenspoel ���Drents-Friese Wold���, sheep along our bike path
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    Mildam - Ecocathedral

    by vtveen Updated Feb 20, 2013

    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.

    Information
    Address: Yntzelaan, Mildam; see for map http://ecocathedral.org/nl/ecokathedralen
    Pictures: http://www.ecokathedraal.nl
    Guided tour: for a guided tour ask for information at: info@stichtingtijd.nl

    Ecocathedral Ecocathedral - just curbs Ecocathedral -
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    Beetsterzwaag – one kilometer of nobility

    by vtveen Updated Feb 20, 2013

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    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.

    Beetsterzwaag - Lycklamah��s Beetsterzwaag - church Beetsterzwaag - Overtuin Lyndenstein Beetsterzwaag - Tropische Kas
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    Workum and Jopie Huisman Museum

    by vtveen Updated Feb 18, 2013

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    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 !!

    Workum - Merk Workum - St. Gertrudis Church (tower) Workum - Jopie Huisman Museum Workum - weighing house It Pottebakkersh��s
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    Strolling around in Sneek

    by vtveen Written Feb 8, 2013

    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).

    Sneek - town hall Sneek - town hall, steps Sneek - Martini Church Sneek - Watergate / Waterpoort Sneek - Watergate / Waterpoort
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    Museum Joure

    by vtveen Written Feb 1, 2013

    ‘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.

    Information
    Address:
    Museum: Geelgietersstraat 1,
    ‘De Witte Os’: Midstraat 97 (main shopping street)
    Opening hours:
    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’
    Admission fee:
    Museum (2013): adults € 4,00
    ‘De Witte Os’: free of charge

    Museum Joure Museum Joure - exhibits Museum Joure - Egbert Douwes birth house Museum Joure - clockmaker's workshop De Witte Os - interior
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    Joure, Douwe Egberts ‘vlecke’

    by vtveen Updated Feb 1, 2013

    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 !!

    Midstraat, main shopping street De Witte Os De Witte Os (interior) Museum Joure Museum Joure
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    Discovering IJlst

    by vtveen Written Jan 30, 2013

    IJlst - or Drylts in the Frisian language – is one of the eleven Frisian cities. It became city rights already in 1268. It is one of the smaller cities in the province and visiting IJlst almost nothing does look like a ‘real’ city.

    But it has its own charm and deserves to be discovered. We started our visit with a walk along the river Ee or Ey, a kind of canal which is more or less the central axis of the city. It is lined with small and low houses, dating back to the 17th century. We walked to the old city hall and returned at the other side of the water.

    Both sides have the typical so called ‘overtuinen’; these gardens along the Ee were used as bleachfields and do belong to the houses at the other side of the streets.

    Next we went to the ‘Doe- en Kijkcentrum Nooitgedagt’, a small museum – to be honest just one room – located in a part of the former factory of Nooitgedagt. They were very famous for its skates, but mainly produced carpentry tools and for many years also wooden toys. We got a tour from a very enthusiastic volunteer, who was a former employee of the factory. He had a story of almost every single exhibit in ‘his’ museum.
    Although small, the museum is worth a visit. You can’t miss it; just follow your way to the high chimney, which is towering above IJlst.
    (www.nooitgedagt-ijlst.nl)

    ‘De Rat’ is a so called smack mill, which is located just outside the city center. Although we have seen a lot of windmills in the Netherlands, this one is without any doubt the most beautiful. Especially its location along the river Geeuw is breathtaking !! ‘De Rat’ is a woodcutting mill and still in production. It was just a pity we were on a wrong day and couldn’t visit the interior of the mill.
    (http://www.houtzaagmolenderat.nl)

    IJlst - 'overtuinen' IJlst - former city hall IJlst - 17th century houses IJlst - Nooitgedagt Museum IJlst - De Rat
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    Veenklooster and Fogelsangh State

    by vtveen Written Jan 18, 2013

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    The village of Veenklooster (or Feankleaster in Frisian) did arise on a spot of a 12th century monastery, called ‘de Olijfberg’. Nowadays it is located in very varied scenery with lots of trees and wooded banks. The village has a very nice village green and offers a couple of interesting sights, like museums and art galleries.

    But by far the most important sight for visitors is the Fogelsangh State. This private country estate was bought in 1639 by the Fogelsangh family. Nowadays it is still private owned by inheritance by a member of the Harinxma thoe Slooten family. The ‘state’, which is a little bit yellow colored, with its annexes lies beautifully, surrounded by gardens and a forest.

    We did get a leaflet (Dutch, don’t know if it is available in other languages) ands wandered around in the rooms, which were open for public. Kitchen, dining, living room, bedrooms and library had beautiful furnishings, a lot of (family) portraits, chandeliers, antique clocks and other exhibits.
    As we did read the ‘museum’ became much more interesting lately, because it houses the so called ‘Iddekinge collection’ (to be honest we had never heard before). Especially the 250-piece hand painted Amstel porcelain is quite famous and exhibited in one of the rooms.

    After a short look at the coach house, we went to ‘Galerie Noordvleugel, located in another outbuilding; a very nice and attractive mixture of an art gallery, picture-framer, (gift)shop and tea room, an ideal place for a cup of coffee or tea. (www.galerienoordvleugel.nl)

    Fogelsangh State is surrounded by a large park - Veenkloosterbos - an outstanding example for a walk. We were quite unlucky with the weather and have to come back for a second visit and a first walk.

    Information
    Opening hours: 30 April – 31 October, Tuesdays through Sundays 1.00 pm – 5.00 pm.
    Park all year, except during breeding season 15 March – 15 June.
    Admission fee (2013): adults € 5,00. Park € 1,00

    Veenklooster - Fogelsangh State Veenklooster - Fogelsangh State Veenklooster - Fogelsangh State, garden Veenklooster - village ghreen Veenklooster - road towards Fogelsangh State
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    Moddergat – Museum ‘t Fiskershúske

    by vtveen Written Jan 18, 2013

    Driving in the most northern part of Friesland is a little bit like entering the end of the (Frisian) world; straight roads, empty flat rural scenery, some isolated farmhouses and the twin villages of Paesens - with a nice little Romanesque church -. and Moddergat.
    Being on holidays in Friesland we wanted to visit Moddergat just for the name, which means something like Mud Hole and because it has a little open air museum, called ‘t Fiskershúske and consisting of four small fisherman’s cottages.

    We first did take a look in the house called ‘Klaske’s Húske’. For us it was unbelievable, but there were two big families living in these two rooms, which have furnishings from around 1920. A volunteer gave an explanation about life and work of the local fishermen. He also told us the story about the box-beds, which people were using in those days. They always look so short and we really thought men and women were not as tall as today, but they were sleeping more or less in a sitting position, afraid of lying down, because they believed it was the position of death. In one box-bed sometimes six children did sleep together.

    ‘t Fiskershúske gives a good impression of the interior of a fisherman’s cottage on shore of the Waddenzee. Another one - de Aek -offers a permanent exposition with objects linked to the old fishing industry, a model of the former village of Moddergat and ship models.

    On of the cottages - also the entrance to the museum – has a small shop and a café. During our coffee we saw a slideshow about the history of the villages. Back in the fresh air we climbed the impressive dike; on top is a sober monument in memory of the tragedy of 1883, during which 83 fishermen of Moddergat-Paesens drowned.
    (See for more info: http://www.fiskersskip-moddergat.nl/eng/about.html)
    From this spot we had a wonderful view over the Waddenzee towards Schiermonnikoog, one of the Frisian Wadden Islands.

    Information
    Opening hours: March through October, Mondays – Saturdays, 10.00 am – 5.00 pm. July, Mondays closed and Sundays open from 1.00 pm – 5.00 pm. August, open every day 10.00 am – 5.00 pm and Sundays 1.00 pm – 5.00 pm.
    Admission fee (2013): adults € 4,00

    Moddergat - Museum ���t Fiskersh��ske Museum ���t Fiskersh��ske Museum ���t Fiskersh��ske - box-bed Museum ���t Fiskersh��ske - kitchen Museum ���t Fiskersh��ske - living room
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    Jelsum – Dekema State

    by vtveen Written Jan 17, 2013

    The Dekema State was first mentioned in 1486; this ‘stins’ or ‘state’ was a moat stone house with a moat. A ‘state’ was a fortified dwelling - more or less like a small castle - built of stone by the nobility of Friesland. In those times stone was very expensive and only affordable for the really rich people. In rough times they could withdraw themselves in their houses. In the 16th century the ‘states’ lost their purpose as fortified buildings, because of the invention of gunpowder. The Dekema State is named after the family Dekema, who lived in the house in the 16th century

    We paid our admission fee and had to walk through the gardens with an orchard, a berceau with grapes, a vegetable and herb garden and some lovely still blooming ornamental gardens. On the right hand side was a amazing (former) drive way to the mansion with lime trees pruned like a candelabrum !!

    We passed the coach house and the small drawbridge before reaching the house itself. With a leaflet with an extensive explanation of the several rooms (I really don’t know if it is available in other languages) we started our round tour.
    We wandered through the beautifully furnished rooms with a very comfortable guest lounge, library, kitchen and dining room, where the table was neatly covered. The ‘Sael’ - a larger hall - has a collection of family portraits of the former inhabitants of the state. We did get a good impression of the life style of a noble family in the 1930’s.
    Just a pity that you are not allowed to takes pictures inside the building.

    In the former gardener's house, now entrance building, we finished our visit with a 'noble' cup of tea; it has also a small shop. If visiting Dekema State look also around in the tiny village of Jelsum, with its houses built on a ‘terp’ (an artificial dwelling hill) and the medieval church.

    Unfortunately we occasionally were blown away by the sound of low-flying fighter jets from the airbase Leeuwarden, which has its runway just outside the village and ‘state’.

    Information
    Opening hours: April through October, Saturday and Sunday 1.00 pm - 5.00 pm
    Mid June till mid September, Tuesday through Sunday 1.00 pm - 5.00 pm
    (Closed on holidays; see also website: Bezoek > Openingstijden)
    Admission fee: adults € 3,50 (2013)
    Throughout the year Dekema State has temporary exhibitions and special activities. See website: Agenda.

    Jelsum: Dekema State Dekema State- garden Dekema State - drive way Dekema State - garden Jelsum - 'terp' village
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    Hogebeintum – church/mourning panels

    by vtveen Written Jan 16, 2013

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    For a visit of the church of Hogebeintum (officially in Frisian Hegebeintum) you First have to stop at the Visitor Centre. After paying our entrance fee we could join a (very) small group for a guided tour. Together we ‘climbed’ the highest mound of the Netherlands, which reaches till 9 meters above sea level.
    (Mound - in Dutch ‘terp’- is a man made hill, protecting people and cattle against floods.

    The old Romanesque church, dating from the early 2th century and built of tuff, stands on the top of the mound. It offers great views over the surrounding flat landscape of Friesland. We passed the graveyard with old tombstones and reached the entrance door.

    Once inside the interior took our breath away: it turned out to be completely different from the usually sober interiors of other protestant churches. The walls are richly decorated with many so called ‘mourning panels’ and a nice carved pulpit.
    The guide told us that ‘his’ church has the largest collection of these memorial panels in the Netherlands. The panels, in memory of the deceased local aristocracy, are dated from 1689 to 1906. They are quite different in size and design; some are highly decorated with symbolic carvings, whilst others are quite simple. We got an extensive explanation of the different ‘death’ symbols.

    Information
    Opening hours church: March - October, every hour from 11.00 am till 4.00 pm
    November - February, for groups only and on request.
    Admission fee (2013): adults € 3,50

    Hogebeintum on its 'terp' Hogebeintum, church Hogebeintum, church, - interior Hogebeintum, church - pulpit Hogebeintum, church - mourning panels
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    Franeker - St. Martin's Church

    by vtveen Written Jan 14, 2013

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    The present St. Martins Church (Martinikerk) is dating back to the year of 1421, although there was already a church on the same spot dedicated to St. Martin as early as 1085. The church is the only medieval church in Friesland with a choir aisle.
    As St. Martin’s was originally a roman catholic church, the prohibition of roman Catholicism in 1580 brought major alterations in the interior. Anything reminiscent of roman catholic times was removed and/or destroyed. Paintings on the columns - probably from the first half of the 15th century – were covered on a layer of whitewash. They came out during a restoration in 1940.

    St. Martin’s Church in Franeker is easy to find, as it is signposted and located in the heart of the city on a ‘terp’ (man made artificial hill). Although built with large medieval local bricks the outside of the church is not that impressive.

    But once we entered the building we were really surprised by the measures and brightness. It is a so called pseudo basilica, which means that it has a nave and two aisles. The nave and aisles do have a beautiful wooden vault. The church does look (and is) very bright due to the many large windows.

    For us most remarkable were the columns of the nave and around the choir. Many of them do have splendid frescoes of saints. The front wall is almost completely covered by a nice organ; not the original but one of 1842. The sculptured pulpit - made by a local craftsman - dates from 1622 and has a lion, holding the Franeker coat of arms.

    The floor of the church is covered with hundreds of tombstones; other are placed against the walls. Although we tried to read the names on it, most of them were completely unknown for us. Most probably they were from the nobility of Franeker.

    The church has a small ‘shop’ for souvenirs, booklets, dvd’s and a cd with music of the organ.

    Information
    Opening hours: Tuesdays through Saturdays - 11.00 am – 5.00 pm, Mondays 2.00 pm – 5.00 pm.
    Admission: there is no entrance fee; at the exit is a box for a donation.
    Tours: there are no tours available - volunteers will give information. There are also leaflets in Dutch and (at least) English.

    Franeker - St. Martin's Church, interior St. Martin's Church, columns with frescoes St. Martin's Church, detail of the frescoes St. Martin's Church, interior
    Related to:
    • Arts and Culture
    • Historical Travel
    • Architecture

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    Veenwouden – Schierstins

    by vtveen Written Jan 14, 2013

    The ‘schierstins’ in Veenwouden is a fortified tower/house dating back to the early 14th century. It is the only remaining so called ‘steenhuis’ (stone house) in Friesland. It was built around 1300 and was first officially mentioned in 1439 as ‘Schira Monnika’, when it was owned by the Claercamp Abbey. It was named after the ‘schiere’ (= grey) habits of the Cistercian monks of the abbey, who cut peat around Veenwouden; the word ‘stins’ means stone house.

    Veenwouden (or Feanwâlden in Frisian language) means something like ‘peat forest’. And indeed the surroundings of Veenwouden are quite different from the common Frisian scenery with a lot of forest. In the centre of the village stands de ‘schierstins’. The impressive old tower of massive red brick is situated on a small island surrounded by a kind of park and a moat.

    Being there in the morning we were quite unlucky, because we couldn't visit the tower with its museum itself. Opening hours are limited and staff was busy to get another room ready for a wedding. After a short glimpse inside the building we had to be satisfied with a little walk around the buildings.

    The garden/park is lovely (in spring it has a lot of so called ‘stinsenplanten’ = spring flowers). One of the outbuildings in front of the ‘schierstins’ still gives the impression of being a post office, but this was already closed in 1960.

    Information
    Opening hours: Tuesday – Sunday: 1.30 pm – 5.00 pm
    Admission fee (2013): € 2,00
    (see website ‘Locatie & Prijzen’)

    Veenwouden - Schierstins Veenwouden - Schierstins, former post office Veenwouden - Schierstins, entrance gate Veenwouden - Schierstins
    Related to:
    • Architecture
    • Museum Visits
    • Historical Travel

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    Franeker - Eise Eisinga Planetarium

    by vtveen Updated Jan 11, 2013

    Eise Eisinga - a local wool carder – built between 1774 and 1781 an accurate scale model of the solar system in the living room of his house. An upcoming planetary conjunction - that some people said would mean the end of the world - launched him into this activity. Eisinga wanted to use his model to show how the solar system really worked.

    During our visit of the city of Franeker the Eise Eisinga Planetarium was an absolute ‘must see’ sight for us. We were just in time to join a guided tour in our own Dutch language. We went with a couple of other visitors into the living room of Eise Eisinga, where we got an extensive explanation of the construction and functioning of his planetarium in the ceiling of this marvelous room.
    It is absolutely stunning that this model is still working and showing the accurate and actual position of the planets, stars and our moon for about 225 years.

    Depending on the number of question by visitors this guided tour takes about 30 minutes.

    Afterwards we climbed a steep and narrow staircase to the first floor. Behind glass walls we had a view of the impressive gear mechanism. Eisinga used wooden hoops and 10.000 hand-forged nails as teeth. Controlling this mechanism are a pendulum clock and nine weights. It is amazing seeing the constant movement of the wheels and hearing the soft sound of the tacking of the teeth.
    For us it was almost unbelievable that this self educated man was able to build such an ingenious device.

    In a couple of other rooms is a small museum with an exhibition of historical astronomical instruments, other planetariums and modern astronomy. To be honest: nice to see, but by far not as interesting as the actual planetarium of Eisinga.

    We were really impressed by our visit and it is absolutely well worth the entrance fee.
    Next to the ‘museum’ is the Planetariumcafe, a cozy café/shop for a drink and/or lunch.

    !!Be aware: the actual planetarium can only be visited by a guided tour. As far as I know they are in Dutch, English, German and French (??).
    It is not allowed to take pictures inside the building. !!

    Being interested in the heritage of Eisinga we also visited the small village of Dronrijp, less than 10 km’s east from Franeker. Around the village church we saw more reminders of him like his birthplace, a statue and a plaque against the church.

    Information
    Opening hours: All year round Tuesday through Saturday 10.00 am - 5.00 pm, Sunday 1.00 pm - 5.00 pm Between 1 April and 31 October, also: Monday 1.00 pm - 5.00 pm.
    Entrance fee: adults € 4,50 (2013)
    See also website.

    Franeker, Planetarium and cafe Dronrijp: statue of Eise Eisinga Dronrijp: birthplace of Eise Eisinga
    Related to:
    • Museum Visits

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