Four authentic "banning poles" or "boundary stakes" (banpaal in Dutch) can be found around Amsterdam. In 1544 emperor Charles V granted Amsterdam the right to ban criminals, vagabonds and other undesirable individuals to one German mile (7.4 km) outside the city gates. Six boundary stakes along the main approaches to the city indicated the borders of this banishment area. Exiles were forbidden to enter the area within the limits of the stakes until their banishment had ended. By entering the area they risked capital punishment.
Banning was a popular punishment for thieves and beggars, but also for cursing, gambling or prostitution. Nobody has been exiled since 1800.
On the banning poles is written "Terminus Proscriptions" and "Uiterste Palen Der Ballingen" which is respectively Latin and Dutch for "limit post of the banished".
Interestingly, in 1650 the famous Dutch painter Rembrandt made an etching showing one of these banning poles. This "Rembrandt pole" dates from 1624 and has been relocated several times. The lower part unfortunately has been destroyed, but the remaining part can now be found in the Geuzenbos at the Spaarnwouderdijk, close to its original position where it was painted by Rembrandt. The exact location is behind the water-pumping station near the Wethouder van Essenweg. You'll have to climb over a small wooden fence to reach it, this is completely legal to do, the fence is just there to keep the sheep inside (coordinates N52 23.521 E4 46.153).
The other 3 remaining banning poles can be found here:
- Sloterweg in Sloten, hidden in an alley between house numbers 1204 and 1208. The original boundary stake from 1624 along the Sloterweg in Sloten marked the southwestern extent of the banishment area and was replaced in 1794, since it was falling into ruin (coordinates N52 20.501 E4 47.927).
- Amsterdamseweg 210 in Amstelveen dating from 1625 . The banning pool on the Amsterdamseweg in Amstelveen is close to the parks De Braak, Thijssepark and Broersepark in Amstelveen and a visit to the banning pole could be combined with a visit to these parks (coordinates N52 18.810 E4 50.826).
- Along the river Amstel, Amsteldijk Noord, close to house number 65. This banning pole from 1625 is included in a marked 10 km walk through the Middelpolder (coordinates N52 18.624 E4 54.278).
Visit a windmill, some are open to the public and you can see how they work which is very interesting. The family used to sleep on the ground floor.
I visited one near Alkmaar
Entry is usually few Euro’s
This 13 km long (3 hour) hike takes you through the recreational areas Gaasperplas, Gaasperzoom and De Hoge Dijk in Amsterdam Zuidoost (south-east).
The walk is well marked with signs from the ANWB (the Dutch touring club) which are marked "Gaasper Zoom Route" (see pictures). The hike starts and finishes at metrostation Gaasperplas. Metro 53 stops here.
You can also cheat a little and take the metro at station Holendrecht near the AMC (Amsterdam Medical Center) on your way back, that will save you about 20-30 minutes. If you want you can visit the Vrolik museum of medical curiosities while you are near the AMC.
Some parts of the walk are unpaved, so leave your high heels at home!
There is a map with the route among the pictures.
On my Netherlands page there is a lot more information about hiking in Holland, follow the link below.
When I arrived at Amsterdam I went straight to the Tourist Info office outside the station and asked about day trips. They booked me onto a trip to Vollandam, Marken and Zaanse Schans the next day with a company called Lindburgh, based in Damrak just 200m away. They have a small shop there where other tours can be booked. My trip departed at 10am and returned about 3pm. Cost 27 Euros. It was good value for money I thought and certainly took you to some interesting places and the guide certainly knew what they were talking about. My only compaint was that it was a little rushed and you might not get to see everything at the sites you visit. Also be aware that not all trips operate on all days so plan ahead with what you want to do.
A treat for children and adults alike is a day trip to the Dolphinarium in Hardewijk. The park has been open for over 40 years and has now been hailed as Europe’s largest marine park. It is open during the summer months from mid February to end of September and you are welcome to spend the whole day at the park enjoying the daily shows. A timetable of shows is given at the entrance detailing the times of the shows for the dolphinarium, stingray & sharks, walruses, seadogs and seals. There is several playgrounds for the children and being right on the beachfront a paddle in the sea is quite pleasant.
In July 2009 they celebrated the birth of baby dolphin Luna and Rif who you can view in the aquarium and take pictures without flash. There is something very spiritual about the dolphins, we decided to see the show twice and no 2 shows are the same.
All of the shows are conducted in dutch with the exception of the seal show which is done in mime, it really doesn’t matter if you can’t speak the language as the animals are the stars of the show also you can ask any questions you have after the show in English. There are several restaurants dotted around the park most selling frites with mayo but you can enjoy a healthy sandwich. There are also kiosks to purchase ice-cream, beer, coffee and stroopwaffels.
Cost Adult Eur25, children Eur22.50 extra Eur1 in July & August
Parking Eur6 park open 10am – 5pm & 6pm in August.
Strandboulevard Oost 1, 3841 Hardewijk
Travel: Amsterdam Centraal – Amersfoort Intercity Amersfoort – Hardewijk (direction Zwolle) Stop trein journey time approx 1hr cost 2nd class return full fare Eur21.50. Bus to Dolpinarium 144, 147, 148 we travelled on a novelty bus 2 strips.
This might not sound exciting but it really is something worth seeing, whether your a Flower lover or not. Tours do go here, or you can get there on your own steam like I did. I caught Bus 172 from outside Central Station. It took about an hour to get there, and stops right at the Complex. This is the WORLD'S LARGEST FLOWER AUCTION, so as you can imagine, its extremely busy. You walk on a high boardwalk overlooking all the Flowers and action. You can peer through the window at the Auction room and see the buyers in Action, how fast each lot is sold, its amazing! I saw Flowers that I hadn't seen before. There is a souvenir shop and a Cafe for that morning cuppa & cake(quite expensive) Take your time and enjoy.
Open on WEEKDAYS ONLY from 7.30am - 11am.
Admission 5 euro (2009)
If you want to see traditional Dutch windmills there is a small group of them just north of Amsterdam and these are a better choice to make over the windmills at Kinderdijk if you only have time to visit one windmill heritage site.
These windmills were built from 1633 onwards and until 1929 when electric pumps came in to operation these had drained the Schermerpolder to keep it free from flooding as the land is below sealevel.
There is a small visitor centre and it is possible to see inside a restored windmill which does work and is furnshed as a family dwelling would have been over 100 years ago.
The entrance fee is €4 and this represents good value as you are free to climb right to the top of the windmill and see it working (this cannot be done at Kinderdijk).
Train to Alkmaar from Amsterdam CS and then bus 127 to the windmills. By car off the N243.
For GPS / Sat Nav the postcode is 1636 VL.
This attractive walk of 16 km, called Bos en Dijkroute (Forest and Dike route), takes you through the small forest of Purmerend, and along a dike.
Parts of the walk are unpaved, so it might be muddy after long periods of rain.
Purmerend is just 30 minutes from Amsterdam Central Station, by train or bus, see http://journeyplanner.9292.nl/.
If you are by car, you can park at the train station or along the route, e.g. near the crossing Purmerweg / Purmerdijk.
The route from the train station to the starting point of the walk is indicated with blue stickers on streetlights and signs. The walk itself is also marked with these blue stickers.
See the link below for a map. On this map there are two other marked walks indicated:
Vurige Staart route (7 km), starting in Ilpendam
Hekkenroute (12 km) from Ilpendam to Edam (or vice versa)
You could combine these walks and plan your own route as well.
More info (Dutch):
The Goudriaan route, a hike of about 12 km, starts and finishes just outside the village Durgerdam. There is a big parking. Durgerdam is part of the municipality Amsterdam.
The hike is marked with blue stickers with "Goudriaan route", see the pictures.
Actually, the description of the hike says it is 12 km, but it seemed to be more like 10 km to us.
The hike goes along the dike, and through the polder. We saw many birds during the walk.
The only drawback of this hike is that you're walking on rather narrow cycle-tracks, and there may be many bikes passing....
Start and finish are at the bus stop and parking at the "Uitdammerdijk" (Amsterdam), close to the wind turbine, just outside Durgerdam (see pictures). See http://journeyplanner.9292.nl/ for public transport.
Due to an unfortunate combination of the very high tide, the low atmospheric pressure and the strong storm a big part of Southwest-Netherland got under water on 1st of February 1953. This disaster, in which many hundred people lost their life, made it necessary to close the Southwestern sea spurs as fast as possible.
The Delta Works, the biggest sluice valves of the world is a massive system of dikes, sluice gates, and storm-surge barriers that can be open and closed, to keep the sea apart from the river water flowing from the mainland and to prevent large sea waves from reaching the shores. Delta works is considered to be "the eight's world wonder".
However, many scientists think that the construction of Delta Project due to climate change and sea-level rise is in no way the final siege in the battle against the sea.
You can visit to the Haringvlietdam and the Oosterscheldam and see the seawater swirling beneath you. Near the last dam, there is an interesting place called the Delta Expo, where it is introduced, how Dutch people overcame the North Sea.
You can relive history of the flood disaster, of the building of the dams, and of the conquering of the sea areas. The nearby Water Park is a big fun for kids.
It is an experience you will never forget and highly recommended you go there.
Opening hours from April to Oct daily 10am-5.30pm; €18.50;
from Nov-March Wed-Sat 10am-5pm; €12.50
Website Water Park: http://www.neeltjejans.nl/index.php/en/home
Address: Neeltje Jans island, Burgh-Haamstede
Directions: Zeeland, about one hour and a half driving from Amsterdam on N57.
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