The Zaanse Schans
During the 17th century, more than 600 windmills were constructed in the area around the Zaanse Schans, creating the first industrial zone. The windmills were used, among others, to grind spices, produce paint, saw wood, and make oil. A number of these windmills still exist and can still be visited today. You can see how these wind-powered machines work, inside and out.
There are various museums you can visit at the Zaanse Schans. There is the Museumwinkel, for example: a grocer’s from the past, as they existed before the emergence of large supermarkets. In the Bakkerijmuseum (Bakery Museum), you can discover the old craft of baking, and the Honig Breethuis presents the home of a 19th-century merchant family. The Museum Zaanse Tijd shows a collection of unique clocks, most of which still work. The Zaan Museum has a special collection of utensils, clothing and paintings from the area. You can also visit the Verkade Experience here, to find yourself in a 20th-century chocolate factory. The original machines there are still at work to produce the very best chocolate and cookies.
Zaanse Schans by boat
The Zaanse Schans lies by the waterway of de Zaan, making the area particularly suited to exploration by boat. There are various shipping companies that offer boat tours. Step aboard the koeienboot (cow ship), which, as the name implied, was used to transport cattle across the water in the past. The guide will tell you wonderful stories along the way, about life in the Zaanstreek in the past. You can also take the voetenveer (pedestrian ferry), which will take you to both banks of the Zaan. For those with their own boats, there are various jetties.