UNESCO World Heritage Sites Beemster and De Schermer

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UNESCO World Heritage Sites Beemster and De Schermer

A tip for a wonderful cycling trip: this 400-year-old polder. Cycle past mansions and old villages.

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The UNESCO World Heritage Sites of Beemster and De Schermer form a unique polder area that shows how the Dutch have controlled the waters and used them to their advantage for centuries.

  • A masterpiece of land reclamation from the 17th century – it’s not UNESCO World Heritage without good reason
  • Go cycling past ancient mansions and pleasant, authentic villages.
  • Visit Schermerhorn Museum Windmill and see how the windmill works.

History of Beemster-Schermer

More than 400 years ago, between 1607 and 1612, the Dutch succeeded to reclaim land in an area that was at the time still an inland sea using 43 windmills.  In those years, the lake of De Beemster changed into a beautiful landscape that lies 3.5 meters below sea level and is divided into a tight geometric pattern of squares and quadrants.

World Heritage

Jan Adriaenszoon Leeghwater, a windmill builder and hydraulic engineer, was the man who directed this project. When the reclamation was complete, the new land turned out to consist of fertile clay. The land was divided into plots and rented out to crop and livestock farmers, and rich merchants built their majestic mansions and manors there. De Beemster was put on the UNESCO List of World Heritage Sites in 1999 as ‘a creative masterpiece created by humansˊ, with the 17th-century ideals still clearly visible in the entire area.

Nature reserve

Today, the area between De Beemster and De Schermer, Schermereiland (Schermer Island), is a popular nature reserve with unique swamp fowl and vegetation. There is much cycling, boat trips are organized and there are many splendid villages and gorgeous manors to admire.

More in the area

If visiting in the area of De Beemster and Schermer, you are not far from such old fishing villages as Volendam, Edam and Monnickendam. Enjoy their harbors and dikes, try some delicious fish and have your picture taken wearing traditional clothing.

Editors’ tip

The Museummolen (Museum Windmill) in Schermerhorn (address: Noordervaart 2) is part of a gorgeous set-up of three windmills in a row. From the visitors’ center, the second windmill, the Museummolen, can be admired. This hydraulic windmill is thatched and has been furnished in accordance with life in the early 20th century. Visitors can receive explanations from the miller in several languages and climb all the way to the top to see the turning gears up close.

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