The historic working windmills and open-air museum village at Zaanse Schans in Zaandam are a pleasant day-trip destination from Amsterdam in North Holland, the Netherlands.
Historic windmills are of course no longer part of the industrial infrastructure of modern-day Holland but images of a turning windmill still form a major ingredient of tourist interest in the Netherlands. Windmills are scattered through the Netherlands but the two largest collections of historical working windmills are at Zaanse Schans and at Kinderdijk. The windmills at Zaanse Schans is within easy reach of Amsterdam and makes a great self-guided day-trip or tour bus excursion from the Dutch capital. The nineteen windmills at Kinderdijk near Dordrecht and Rotterdam are included on the UNESCO World Cultural Heritage list and a popular day-trip from Dutch cities.
Zaanse Schans is by far the easier to reach from Amsterdam, especially when using public transportation. The additional buildings and museums at Zaanse Schans make the town a more interesting destination than Kinderdijk where the windmills – even though UNESCO listed and higher in number – are the only real attractions.
See Historic Working Windmills at Zaanse Schans near Amsterdam
The eight windmills at Zaanse Schans are mostly from the seventeenth and eighteenth century. Most of the mills were moved to banks of the Zaan River from the 1960s onwards to form an interesting ensemble. Several historic buildings were added in recent years to form an open-air museum-like appearance.
The lovely village at Zaanse Schans is not a formal museum or indeed an authentic historical village. Many buildings here have historical value but were moved here in order to preserve the buildings. Several house museums and traditional workshops.
The Industrial Windmills of Zaanse Schans in North Holland
The first windmill along the Zaan River was erected in 1597. Through the centuries more than a thousand were built along the river and during the nineteenth century 400 windmills were operated simultaneously along the Zaan River.
Of the eight windmills at Zaanse Schans, six are classified as industrial windmills. They are:
- De Huisman (the homeowner) – a windmill used to grind mustard seeds
- De Gekroonde Poelenburg (Crowned Poelen Castle) – a windmill used to saw wood
- De Kat (the cat) – a windmill used to grind the elements used in manufacturing paint.
- De Zoeker (the seeker) – a windmill used to press oil out of seeds.
- De Bonte Hen (the speckled hen) – another oil windmill, and
- Het Jonge Schaap (the young sheep) – another wood-sawing windmill.
Admission to each individual windmill is around €4.50. Each windmill at Zaanse Schans set its own opening hours and opening days.
Visit Museums and Traditional Workshops at the Zaanse Schans
The working windmills of Zaanse Schans are the main attraction but the historical buildings forming a small village is also interesting. Five museums are housed here.
- The Zaans Museum is in the modern visitors’ center and has exhibits on local history, crafts, and industrial development of the region.
- The Noorderhuis Museum is a mid-seventeenth century building furnished as was typical for a rich merchant house from the nineteenth century.
- The Museum Shop Albert Heijn has the interior of a nineteenth-century grocery store.
- The Bakery Museum (Bakkerij) is a typical nineteenth-century bakery.
- The Dutch Clock Museum (Nederlandse Uurwerk) illustrates the development of Dutch clocks from the sixteenth to mid-nineteenth centuries.
Several traditional Dutch crafts are demonstrated in historic workshops including cheese making (kaasmakerij), pewter making (tingieterij), and the wooden shoe clog workshop (klompenmakerij).
See also By Train or Bus to Zaanse Schans in North Holland for general information and tips on reaching Zaanse Schans on public transportation from Amsterdam or book a day trip.