Edam Things to Do

  • Things to Do
    by Drever
  • Things to Do
    by Drever
  • Things to Do
    by Drever

Most Recent Things to Do in Edam

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    Keukenhof Gardens

    by Drever Written Nov 19, 2015

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    We travelled from Amsterdam by coach to the stunning Keukenhof Gardens, famous for its breathtaking display of tulips for two months each spring. A gale had hit the garden before our visit, but the staff had repaired the damage so swiftly and efficiently that no-one would have guessed.

    Keukenhof sits in South Holland in the small town of Lisse, southwest of Amsterdam, on a 15th-century hunting grounds, once also a source of herbs for a castle's kitchen - hence Keukenhof. In the 19th century, the Baron Van Pallandt appointed the landscape architect Jan David Zocher and his son Louis Paul Zocher to design the grounds around the castle.

    In 1949, a group of 20 flower bulb exporters came up with a plan to use the estate for a permanent exhibition of spring-flowering bulbs, heralding the birth of Keukenhof as we know it. It opened its gates to the public in 1950 and was an instant success, with 236,000 visitors in its first year.

    Keukenhof in its 32 hectares includes four grand pavilions hosting special exhibits, unique artwork and wonderful events - do not miss the Tulipomania exhibition in the Juliana Pavilion. There are cafes and refreshment stands throughout. Children have a blast with a treasure hunt, petting farm, maze and the playground. Keukenhof is an unforgettable experience for people of all ages.

    Everywhere you look there are tulips along with narcissi and daffodils, hyacinths, bluebells, and other blossoms. Though the park only opens eight weeks in the spring, it now attracts around 800.000 visitors each year. It is without a doubt the best place to see tulips in Holland, especially around mid-April.

    The Keukenhof features a variety of different gardens and garden styles. For example, the English landscape garden has winding paths and unexpected see-through points. The historical garden is an enclosed garden where you can see many old types of bulbs. The nature garden consists of a water garden where shrubs and perennials combine with bulbous plants. The Japanese country garden is a non-traditional garden in a natural setting.

    Keukenhof is the international showcase for the Dutch floricultural sector and the world’s largest garden. In more than 20 flower shows, 500 flower growers present their best range of spring flowering bulbs for display. The garden designer creates a special design for each of the exhibitors, consulting with them to find out the colours, heights and flowering times of their bulbs. Nature's talents are combined with artificial precision to create a wonder of landscaping, where millions of blossoms are perfectly in place and exactly on time. If the temperatures have them wilting, fresh blooms are planted by helping hands.

    The Keukenhof doesn't contain the long fields of tulips many visitors expect. However, there are tulip fields outside the Gardens. We took a ride in an eco-friendly boat through canals from the Garden to view some of those surrounding bulb fields. Afterward, we re-joined our river cruise ship in Volendam, it having cruised along from Amsterdam while we took a coach.

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    Zuiderzee Museum

    by Drever Written Nov 18, 2015

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    We took the ferry, included in the admission charge, to the Buitenmuseum. The ferry is a single-floor vessel with wide aisles which can accommodate four or five wheelchairs at one time. It took about 20 minutes to cross to the open air museum. Once there we entered a fully functioning village of a bye gone age - top marks to the museum.
    Opened in 1983, the museum was compiled from 130 houses, farms and sheds transported from the surrounding fishing villages to show Zuiderzee life as it was from 1880 to 1932. Every detail has been thought through, from the fence-top decorations and choice of shrubbery to the layout of villages, and the look and feel is authentic. There are genuine shops such as a bakery, chemist and sweet shop. The museum revives the lives of people who lived on the shores of the Zuiderzee. You can see, hear, taste and smell everyday life as it was before the construction of the Barrier Dam which in 1932 changed the sea into a lake.

    The outdoor museum covers 15 acres and accommodates a church, a fish-curing shed, a mill, a cheese warehouse, shops and dwelling houses. Lime kilns from Akersloot stand a few meters from Zuidende and its row of Monnickendam houses, originally built outside the dykes. The Urk quarter simulates the island town before the Noordoostpolder was drained. The Marker Haven is a copy of the harbour built in 1830 on what was then the island of Marken.

    The highlight is the fishing village, which is rich with houses, implements, and stories of people who lost their lives at the sea. It is possible to enter some of the houses to see the living conditions at the time. You also experience a fully functional steam powered laundry, walk on a dike, and partake in fun activities. There's even an artificial canal. It's an experience, much unlike a traditional museum.

    Particularly intriguing is a pharmacy with lots of heads with strange expressions in its window. In a time when many people couldn’t read these indicated the purpose of the shop.
    Inhabitants wear traditional dress and act as though in a by gone age. They run varying demonstrations throughout the day and if you want to taste delicacies or just drink a coffee they will serve you at a number of café’s and restaurants.

    The outdoor museum is closed during the Winter season. It opens again on the 28th of March and closes in October. The indoor museum is open year round from 10h00 to 17h00, with the exception of Christmas Day.
    We didn’t have time to visit the indoor museum. It is in the former home and warehouse of a Dutch shipping merchant. The displays include a shipping hall: paintings, prints and other materials relating the rise and fall of the fishing industry, and the construction of the dykes. Here too are cultural artefacts, such as regional costumes, porcelain, silver and jewellery, that indicate the extent of the country's riches at the time.

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    A stroll through Volendam

    by Drever Written Nov 16, 2015

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    During a cruise in March of the Zuiderzee, which was our peaceful method of seeing the tulip fields and the former seaside Dutch towns, we hove into the unique open port of Volendam.

    Being a typical fishing village with traditional houses and cottages, costumes and folklore, tourists have been beating a path to here since 1875. In the words of a song "Anyone who wants to see the real beauty of Holland, goes to Volendam". As a result of its completely insulated location, it has preserved its character for six centuries.

    The colourful small houses together with the canals and the drawbridges are picture perfect and present the visitor with an atmosphere of conviviality and nostalgia. Volendam is sometimes called "the pearl of the Zuiderzee” a compliment which perhaps can be extended to the girls. Folklore has it that the coat of arms is a compliment to their beauty!

    You'll find many Dutch clichés here including the traditional costumes and wooden shoes. Behind the sea dike we found a labyrinth of buildings and streets laid out I n an attractive organic development. The town is a Roman-Catholic enclave in a largely protestant region. Historically, many missionaries and bishops grew up in the town. Today there is the chapel of Our Lady of the Water, which is located in a village park.

    Volendam in North Holland originally served nearby Edam as its harbour. However, in 1357 the inhabitants of Edam dug a shorter canal to the Zuiderzee with its own separate harbour and the old harbour was dammed and used for land reclamation. Farmers and local fishermen settled there, forming the new community of Volendam, which literally meant 'Filled dam'.

    The majority of the population of around 22,000 are deeply connected to the village culture and the locals' distrust of inhabitants of the nearby town of Edam is almost proverbial. The dialect spoken is difficult to understand for speakers of standard Dutch. Volendam has always been a fishermen's village, and even though since the closing of the Zuiderzee in 1932 the fishing industry now fish in a fresh water lake and not the open sea the bustling harbour area with its many fishing boats, old fishing smacks, pleasure boats and yachts is still a major attraction, and the local delicacy of smoked eel is famous.

    From the 1880s it was a popular resort for artists, who found it hardly touched by time. They captured its characteristics in paintings and other works of art. In the early 20th century, both Picasso and Renoir spent time here. The traditional clothing is still worn by some residents. The women's costume of which its high, pointed bonnet, is one of the most recognizable of the Dutch traditional costumes, and is often featured on tourist postcards and posters. The town contains a small museum about its history and clothing style, and visitors can have their pictures taken in traditional Dutch costumes there. A local delicacy is smoked eel.

    Volendam is also well known for its distinctive music, which is called Palingsound which means eel sound in reference to the local delicacy. Several of the most popular Dutch singers originate from the town.
    It's football club is famous for its "back and forth" reputation (regular "promotion and relegation" in the professional leagues) but its handball club has produced recent Dutch national champions for a fifth time.

    Our time here was all to short to explore fully for a visit for a visit to Volendam’s deeply distrusted Edam beckoned.

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    A Stroll through Edam

    by Drever Written Nov 15, 2015

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    The Zuider zee town of Edam, population around 7,500, sits in the north-west of the Netherlands. Walking through the town with its narrow, attractive alleys with picturesque houses, you almost feel you have entered a painting of one of the Dutch Masters. Edam is a town with 17th-century architecture, convincing proof of its rich past. When walking along the streets and quiet canals, it is easy to see how it was in a Dutch town centuries ago. Well preserved gables, squares, bridges and monuments capture and hold the attention of the visitor. The main structures and architectural details of the old town centre, within the borders of the ancient city walls, is nowadays protected by the government. A number of notable buildings survive in good condition. Edam has cosy shopping streets and nice terraces where one can enjoy a drink or a snack.

    Edam is famous for the rubbery red balls of cheese with the same name. You might, therefore, expect Edam to be jammed with tourists. In fact, it usually lacks crowds and remains a delightful, good-looking and prosperous little town of neat brick houses, high gables, swing bridges and slender canals. The town began in the 12th century when farmers and fishermen settled along the little Ye river at a dam crossing the river hence the name Edam.

    At the dam, goods had to be loaded on board other vessels. This enabled Edam to grow as a trade town. Shipbuilding and fishing brought it more wealth. Edam gained city rights in 1357 which gave the town the opportunity to create a harbour to connect it with the big cities in Holland and the international trading routes. By the 16th century, it had as many as 33 wharfs, which along with the granting of rights to have a market three times every year provided a big boost for the local economy - making it one of the most important cities of North Holland.

    The cheese market boosted the economy further in the 16th century due to the city gaining the right to hold weekly markets. These markets continued until 1922. The cheese was brought to the market by local farmers in boats. When the cheese was lifted out of the boats it was carried to the market by cheese sledges. At the market, the cheese was shown to the merchants. After being checked for quality, the price was settled by haggling until there was an agreement about the price. After that, the cheese was brought to a warehouse where it was kept until the quality was at its best. Since 1989, the cheese market in Edam has been revived as a re-enactment for tourists. It takes place each July and August on each Wednesday and is the only time the town heaves with tourists.

    Edam is a semi-hard cheese and is traditionally sold in rounded cylinders with a pale yellow interior and a coat, or rind, of red paraffin wax. Edam ages and travels well, and does not spoil; it only hardens. These qualities made it the world's most popular cheese between the 14th and 18th centuries, both at sea and in remote colonies.

    Being open to the sea caused flooding problems and in 1569 lock gates were built in the town centre to control its fury. This resulted in the harbour silting up and causing the shipbuilding industry to go into a decline by the end of the 17th century and reverting the town to a rural backwater. The excellent pastureland surrounding the town is still grazed by large herds of cows.
    A stroll through the town takes one past the tea-houses on the Schepenmakersdijk, the leaning Carillon Tower (1561), the historic museum with the floating cellar, the Dam, the Town Hall of Edam to St Nicolas Church. It is one of the largest churches in the Netherlands and has an extraordinary collection of richly coloured stained glass windows dating back to the 17th century.

    It was constructed at the beginning of the 15th Century. Following extensive fires triggered by lightning strikes to the tower the height of the tower was significantly reduced. St Nicholas Church is one of the largest 3-ridged churches in Europe. Built on piles, the weight of the Church was an important consideration and the vaulted ceiling is a wooden copy of a stone ceiling.

    The Town Hall built in 1737 is on a larger scale than the rest of Edam. The entrance with its heavy double doors and sandstone surrounds are in the Louis XIV Style and a wooden tower completes the picture. The town hall is still in use for marriage ceremonies.

    Opposite the Town Hall, across the dam, is Edam's oldest brick house dating from around 1530 as a private house and converted to a museum in 1895. The house represents typical Dutch construction of the period, and the internal layout is original. The kitchen leads to a floating cellar; a brick box room floating freely on ground water.

    Records indicate that the Church of Our Dear Lady incorporating the Gothic Carillion tower dated from the 14th century. The church was demolished in 1882 leaving only the Carillon tower standing. The Bells, protruding from the open lantern, were made in 1566 and still ring out a short melody every 15 minutes.

    Hopefully, I have piqued your interest enough to visit this charming town.

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    Dutch canal bridge

    by alectrevor Updated Sep 22, 2015

    Edam is a small town, and just walking around you come across typlicaly Dutch things a canal lock and the Dutch opening bridge.and boatyard.On market days you can see Edam cheese on sale.Also men wearing clogs on their feet.

    Canal locks.

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    The Speeltoren

    by King_Golo Written Mar 31, 2013

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    The 15th century Speeltoren is the reason for the beautiful carillon sounds you can hear in Edam every few minutes. It's all that remains of the Kleine Kerk (Small Church) which was demolished in the late 19th century. The Speeltoren has a bell set of 19 bells, a few of these dating back to the 16th century. After many years out of use, the original "speeltrommel", the device which makes the carillon bells chime, has been reactivated in 1999, so that the sounds you now hear is probably very similar to that of the olden days. Apart from that, the Speeltoren is also a nice part of Edam's "skyline", it's slightly aslant tower being visible from nearly everywhere in the small town.

    The Speeltoren

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    Drawbridges

    by King_Golo Written Mar 31, 2013

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    Edam is the town of drawbridges - they are literally everywhere! A particularly picturesque one is the Kwakelbrug bridge which connects Lingerzijde and Doelland, but there are plenty of others which will make your stay in Edam worthwhile. Apparently these bridges are still in use despite the fact that some are chained to the ground so as no one can easily lift them.

    Kwakelbrug Bridge

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    The Voorhaven Canal and other Canals

    by King_Golo Written Mar 31, 2013

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    If you were in Edam for only 30 minutes, this is where you should go. A stroll along the centrally located Voorhaven Canal gives you an impression of both picturesque houses and a lovely canal shaded by lots of trees. The logical starting point for your stroll would be the Damplein, the town's main square with a humpbacked bridge that looks rather deformed. You could either come back the same way or walk to the end of Voorhaven and turn right in order to walk back on Nieuwehaven, the next canalside.
    Similarly picturesque is J.C. Brouwersgracht. When you've crossed the little drawbridge near the cheese market, walk to the right until you reach the open fields. Cross the beautiful canal again at the Grote Kerk (the slightly oversized church, apparently the largest three-ridged church in Europe) and walk back on the other side.
    Lots of ships are normally anchored in Nieuwehaven, which also makes for a nice walk. Despite the fact that Edam feels like a place in the countryside, it's less than a kilometre away from the huge Ijsselmeer which is popular sailing territory.

    Strolling along Voorhaven
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    Have a sit-down

    by goodfish Updated Jan 14, 2012

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    All our walking about worked up a mighty thirst. Where to go? The terrace attached to Hotel De Fortuna is about as good as it gets. This sunny spot is right beside a pretty canal and surrounded by flowers. It's also less than spittin' distance from Constabelbrug: a small drawbridge that must be hand-operated to allow canal traffic through to inland waterways. It's a pretty busy route and we had fun watching the tender run back and forth placing barriers, cranking the apparatus that raises/lowers the bridge, and waving at the boaters.

    The hotel and restaurant are both getting good reviews on Trip Advisor - although small rooms with strange layouts seem to be a common complaint - but the location and gorgeous terrace make it one great spot for even day-trippers to rest their heels and rehydrate. If nothing else, stop by for some photo-ops.

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    Zuidpoldermolen

    by goodfish Written Jan 13, 2012

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    Think "Holland" and windmills come to mind. Edam has a very fine specimen that dates between 1626-35 that was used to grind grain and drain a polder: low land that has been reclaimed from the sea and diked. The low, octagonal design categorizes it as a smock style, and the name translates to "south polder mill." The wind-driven mechanics have been out of operation since 1949, and it was closed to visitors when we were by so I wasn't able to learn much more about it but you can get a rough overview here.

    From Dam Square: head east along Voorhaven, and then south (right) across 1 or 2 bridges on Oosterkade, west (right) on Burgemeester Versteeghsingel, and south (left) on the bike path along Broekgouwstraat. The Jewish cemetery (see previous tip) is also in this area.

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    Kaasmarkt (Cheese Market)

    by goodfish Written Jan 13, 2012

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    That cheese that made Edam famous is no longer made in town but you can see where it was once brought to market from farms around the area. Merchants sampled plugs of the product drilled from new batches, haggled over the price, and their purchase was weighed and carried away to their boats or wagons on curved hand-barrows. On summer Wednesdays (July/Aug - 10:30-12:30) they hold costumed reenactments of the market, and you can sample a bit at the old weigh house (kaaswaag) on the square.

    Americans know it by the distinctive red wax coating but this is only used for product exported from the Netherlands: Edam meant to be consumed locally is either waxless or dipped in yellow or black, the latter having been aged for at least 17 weeks. It achieved popularity for its longevity: cheese that, when coated, wouldn't spoil on long voyages was prized in this country of seafarers.

    My main page shot was taken of the canal at the north end of the square.

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    Jewish Cemetery

    by goodfish Written Jan 13, 2012

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    Edam was home to a small Jewish community in the 18th and 19th centuries but a decline in their numbers during the late 1800's closed the school and synagogue and the group merged with another in Monnickendam - which in turn merged with Amsterdam after WWII. There is a small Jewish cemetery dating to 1793 with a memorial to Edam's citizens who lost their lives in the Holocaust.

    You can find the cemetery east of Dam Square at the corner of Voorhaven/Zeiderzee Route and Oosterkade/Oorgat. Pietersbrug (bridge) is near that corner, and a wide place in the canal with some nice boats.

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    St. Nicolaaskerk (Grote Kerk): Exterior

    by goodfish Updated Jan 12, 2012

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    Little Edam has the distinction of having one of the largest churches in all the Netherlands. Like so many others in a country whose history is linked to the sea, it is named for the patron saint of sailors: St Nicholas. And like so many others of the oldest churches, it was originally Catholic. It seems odd to have such an enormous church in such a small village but the population of the town was much larger during its heyday as a busy port.

    Parts of this one date to the 15th century but the structure was extensively damaged and rebuilt after fires in 1602 and 1699, and the curiously squat spire on top of the tower was much higher than it is now. The cemetery on the north/east side, established during the French occupation and Napoleon's ban against inner-church burials, has a few nice monuments. In niches on the south side are a few weirdly unrelated pieces of statuary that I wasn't able to find out anything about, and some bricked-in tracery where windows must have been.

    The church is free and open to visitors 7 days a week from around the 1st of April - 1st of October, 1:30 - 5:00 PM. See my next review for some interesting details about the interior.

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    St. Nicolaaskerk (Grote Kerk): Interior

    by goodfish Updated Jan 12, 2012

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    (See previous review of the exterior)

    I found the feel of St. Nicholas' interior to be very similar to Oude Kerk in Amsterdam: large, empty space; ornate organ, wooden ceiling and choir screen; huge brass chandeliers. In pre-Alteration days when it was a Catholic church, those big empty spaces were probably ornamented with statuary, murals, altars and icons of all sorts that were stripped away to suit no-nonsense Calvinist sensibilities.

    The little gift corner near the front sells a booklet (2 euro) that's nice to have for a self-tour of the church. It concentrates heavily on the stained glass windows: dating from the early 1600's post-reformation period and illustrating important events/icons of the Dutch republic versus religious themes. Mounted on some of the columns in the nave are some interesting shields that were once carried in the funeral processions of more illustrious citizens, and an elaborate pulpit commands a spot in the center - as is customary in Dutch protestant churches - versus the east end.

    The floor is wall-to-wall with tombs dating back many centuries and were particularly fascinating: will cover those in the next review.

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    St. Nicolaaskerk (Grote Kerk): tombs

    by goodfish Updated Jan 12, 2012

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    (See previous review of church's interior)

    Under your feet in St Nicholas are the remains of several hundred years worth of Edam's citizens: thousands of grey stones, some elaborately craved and others blank, pave the floor from entrance to apse. Before the French occupation, it was fashionable for a person of means to be entombed in their parish church but a host of political and unpleasant hygienic issues had Napoleon banning burials inside houses of worship so after the early 1800's the deceased were interred in newly established cemeteries.

    You'll notice that some of the slabs are the length of a person and some are smaller squares. The long ones - sometimes elaborately carved - were more expensive than buying three smaller squares to cover the same amount of space so that person was probably wealthy: I have a side-by-side example in photo 2. You'll see names, dates and obituaries on some and just odd little symbols on others (photos 3 and 4)? Those symbols, handmarks, acted as identifiers for individuals or families at a time when many people couldn't read. Scratched on paper, they were your signature; carved into your front door, it was your house number.

    It was, of course, also cheaper to just engrave one small slab than the length of a large one so that explains the majority that are blank but some had heraldic markings destroyed during the Napoleonic years and still others have simply worn away. Rembrandt's rumored mistress, Grietje Dircks, may be buried under the stone marked "Griet Dircks" but there's no record of the event.

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