Off the beaten path, yes ... the town itself is hardly visited by tourists. The main attractions (flower auction, westeinder plassen and Ende-Mol-studios) put that in the shadow. But these main attractions we have seen in the must see activities and here I will tell you something about the town itself. In the next few tips I'll take you for a walk through the centre of town, showing you a few places that are worth your attention. Though Aalsmeer does not have that historic or beautiful town centre, it still has some places worth mentioning. We will park at the parking place near the windmill. And first see a part of the old town.
One of the first things that you will see in Aalsmeer is the rather wide variation in styles and architecture throughout the town's centre. Old and new, but also many types in houses will pass you by during this walk. also the size is quite remarkable. In some cases you'll see small fishermen's houses going side by side by enormous villa's. The late 19th century houses show many corners, small towers and roof chapels.
In 1549 a church was built for the Catholic church in Aalsmeer and surroundings. It's erection happened just before turbulent times of Reformation. Already after 26 years the church was set fire to by the Spaniards in the 80 years of independance war of the Lowlands. In 1586 the Protestants took what was left and rebuilt the church, which was inadequately done and became ready in 1595. Since then restorations are in order in which also the church was enlarged as well as prolonged.
Aalsmeer has in it's centre a draw bridge and though we are completely used to them, I know that many foreigners are completely crazy about these typical Dutch water crossings. Therefor, here's one to be seen up close, though not that old and not that beautiful. Aalsmeer also has one to be at least mentioned once. (-:
The new church in Aalsmeer looks quite different from the other churches. It stands besides the Carmelites monastry (see tip before this one) and has been built after more catholics lived in Aalsmeer and the space for churchmesses within the monastry became too small. This all was built in the 1930'ies, just before war broke out.
In 1914 only 40 Roman-Catholics were left in Aalsmeer. The pastores of nearby Kudelstaart and Hoofddorp found it necessary to provide aRK church to regain Catholicism in this Protestant "fortress". In 1917 the bishop himself granted this work to the Carmelite order and they founded a monastry. It was opened in 1921. Later a church was added. And again later a Catholic school followed, the Saint Jozef (1933). Slowly the Catholics returned to Aalsmeer and had in 1971 Aalsmeer 2221 members (on 30.000 inhabitants, you can see that this is still a minority).
Near the old church and in the older part of relatively new Aalsmeer, there is the old manucipality hall (raadhuis). This monument was built in 1780 and replaced the one with staircase facade that was there before dating back to 1619. The weapon of Aalsmeer, that was hanging above the door, has been replaced to the new "raadhuis" on the market square. Until 1962 this one was used. Now-a-days it is one of many art galeries / exposition centres in town.
One of the oldest buildings from stone and with rooftiles in Aalsmeer is called the "Schoutenhuis" and was the home of the local "Schout". This was the local sheriff and responsible for order in Aalsmeer. He ruled over the police and was herewith one of the most importnat city officials. In a town fire in 1844 this house prevented from fruther spreading towards the Dorpsstraat and Zijdstraat, herewith prooving the importance of stone buildings.
It is to be discussed whether the new manucipality hall is nice. It's strict lines and boring architecture leaves little to the imagination and only the Aalsmeer weapon and a carrillion (bells) decorate the outside of this modern style building. It is placed on the central square and no doubt is functioning like all other "raadhuizen" in The Netherlands (slowly and bureaucratic -hihi). Anyway, it is one of many examples of the mixed up styles in architecture that make up Aalsmeer.
Well, I haven't been able to find out who the Greek God is that is standing high above the ground level over the central square of Aalsmeer in front of the manucipality hall. It seems to be a God(ess) that holds prosperity and wealth, holding a serpentine of some kind. It's looking quite nice high up in the sky, but I only wish there would have been some explanation what it would represent. Maybe some VT-member can tell me?
The Statue on the Central square in Aalsmeer is off the goddes "FLORA".
She is helding a long bung of flowers (1,5 meter).
FLORA (flora and fauna) is placed there in 1950 as a tribute to al the flowers that grow in Aalsmeer.
In Aalsmeer she is cold the "Queen of flowers".
On the statue (ca. 10 meters) she is looking over Old Aalsmeer and hiss nurserys.
(Sorry for my Enlisch)
Groeten (greatings) uit Aalsmeer,
Klaas F. Keessen
When driving along the borders of the lake, or sailing on the waters of it, on the horizon is always the large watertower of Aalsmeer visible. Getting closer many might ask the question why such tower, storing water, is right on the border between water and land? Well, watertowers were not there to just store water for dry periods. Watertowers are mainly there to provide pressure on the waterpiping throughout town in the centuries that yet have come to pass. The tower of Aalsmeer was so large and therefor also powerful, as the plant and flower growers needed quite a lot of water in summertime as well as the wide surface in which the network of pipes was spread.
Aalsmeer used to be connected to the train network of The Netherlands, but isn't anymore. Still you can find a small station with a train, that tells the story of the line that ran here in long forgotten times. There was of course transport from the products (plants and flowers) and earlier still the dug out peat. Aalsmeer honours it's loyal means of transport with this special place that it got within it's bounderies, just next to the tree growers cemetry.