Friday, December 18, 2015

Amsterdam - The Windmills at Zaanse Schans

Date: 12th October 2015

Windmills are an iconic part of the Dutch landscape. Hence a visit to one is a must for visitors who came to Amsterdam, Netherlands. There are 8 windmills located in and around Amsterdam alone and windmill spotting is a great way to see the city. For the record, on those glory days, there were about 10,000 windmills existed in the whole country but it has now reduced to only 1,000 unit. The guided Tours & Ticket has arranged for us to spot the windmills at the Zaanse Schans, located around 20 km away from the Amsterdam Centraal. For those who traveled without a guided tour may either choose a train from the central station (about 17 minutes) and walk for 15 minutes to reach this place.

Beautiful village picturesque of Zaanse Schans

The Zaanse Schans is one of the highlights of the Netherlands, just outside Amsterdam. The area are seen as a vibrant and stunning living and working community that dates back to the 18th and 19th centuries. It’s packed with wooden windmills, barns, houses and museums and built in the typically Dutch wooden architectural style, relocated here piece by piece since 1961. One can easily explore the whole area in half a day as there is so much to see, taste, smell and experience. 

Sadly, we were only allowed to explore for an hour as there’s 2 more places to cover within 5.5 hours. If given more times, I presume it would be nice to take a walk through the stunning buildings and the unique peat meadow landscape of Zaanse Schans. There are a traditional crafts such as clog and cheese making available in this area beside a visit to the windmills and their traditional buildings. It is recommended to take a boat trip, dine in one of the restaurants or explore the shops and boutiques. Admission to the Zaanse Schans is free of charge but for some of the attractions a visitor has to pay accordingly. Imagine yourself visiting this place during spring, where the tulips are all in full bloom. I’m sure any visitors would prefer to stay longer.

We rode a bus to the Zaanse Schans for less than 30 minutes from the centre of Amsterdam, to be exact where we took a canal cruise later that afternoon. The picturesque open air museum is free of charge which compliments and boasts the 8 well preserved windmills in one cluster village. The windmills produced all sorts of items from paint to mustard to oil, and for a small fee, some of the windmills are open for visiting. Ours was included a paid tour to a cap winder sawmill "Het Jonge Schaap Sawmill". It is recommended to make a full day visit and wander through the traditional houses, clog factories, or stop by the Windmill Museum, which is just a 15 minutes’ walk away. Should you want to know more about Zaanse Schans, visit their website in HERE.

It was a great pleasure being able to enter and view in person of how the cap winder sawmill was in its operation. The place is called "Het Jonge Schaap". The mill that we visited is a cap winder, meaning only if the cap turns in the wind by means of a winch i.e. capstan wheel that is being operated on the platform (the balcony - see above photo). The rotating horizontal movement of the sails switches via the crankshaft to a vertical up and downward sawing movement with the upper wheel winch. The brake for stopping the mill is positioned on the upper wheel of the cap. See below photos snapped inside the working sawmill during the briefing.

Het Jonge Schaap Sawmill means the Young Sheep sawmill is a cap winder sawmill located in Zaanse Schans, being the association's latest asset. The mill was reconstructed when the former mill that was demolished in 1942 basing on the drawings of mill connoisseur Anton Sipman using the latest computer technology. The foundation pile commenced in 2005 and the mill was successfully opened 2 years later. It was Cornelius Cornelisz who discovered how to saw timber using wind power. He used a crankshaft for the first time for driving frame saws. 

Timber is soaked/preserved in the water before lifting them up to the platform for processing
The processed wood left for almost a year to obtain a good quality of timber

There are 2 types of sawmill. One is the wainscot sawyers which produced what is referred as wainscot, a type of fine oak that was used for wall and ship paneling. The other type is a sawyer of beams that concentrates solely by sawing beams and planks, the coarser type of sawing works. In other word, both types being differentiate to process a fine and coarse quality of timber. This windmill has provided a small area for tourist who wish to know more about the sawmill operation and their production items. It also has a small coffee corner that sells coffee and hot chocolate beside a souvenirs that you may wish to bring home as memento. 

Having a hot chocolate before adjourned to the bus.

We had a pleasant walks back to the bus while sipping our hot chocolates that easily gets warm in a cold weather. I'm sharing below those lovely picturesque of Zaanse Schans for those of you who has not been there and planning to visit. Thank you for visiting my page.

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