Picturesque Zaanse Schans is part of the town of Zaandam and was created in 1960 as a tribute to the ingenuity of the 18th and 19th century and as a museum, providing a glimpse into the Zaan region’s heyday and its traditional Dutch way of life.
Those who could afford it also had additional gardens close to the house, but separated from it by a road or by water. The gardens were used for growing vegetables or flowers or for bleaching cloth.
The exteriors of the houses displayed rich shades of various greens ranging through to beige and light blue. The houses also featured brightly-colored interiors. These features are characteristic of the Zaan region.
Thanks to the explosion of international trade during the Dutch Golden Age (17th century), the Zaanse Schans region’s location, on the water and in close proximity to Amsterdam, grew into one of Europe’s oldest industrial regions, with over 600 working windmills. It was also a center for ship-building. As many as 26 shipyards launched between 100 and 150 ships every year.
Today, historic shops, cottages, windmills, houses and buildings from all over the Zaan region have been relocated to the village to create this living history museum where the local people live and work in age-old Dutch occupations.
Having read about and viewed the oil pressing processes in Greece and Italy, it was really interesting to see this Dutch pressing technique.
The original mill located in Zaandam, was destroyed in 1942, but using detailed drawings from the original mill, an exact copy of the mill was constructed in Zaanse Schans in 2007. The mill is a Beam Mill and is used for sawing crude beams and planks for building rather than fine wainscoting used for decorative paneling.
Tree trunk and beams were hoisted into the saw-sled which then dragged the log through the saw frames. The frames would rise and fall as they sawed the tree trunks and beams. The ratchet wheel moved the saw-sleds forward little by little as the log progressed through the saw frames.
I have to admit, it made me a little nervous to be so close to the saw blades even though I knew I was perfectly safe where I was standing! Even so, it was fascinating to see.
And don’t forget to stop into the huge gift-shop!