Located at only fifteen minutes from the centre of Amsterdam, you will find one of the most beautiful and historic areas of the Netherlands: De Zaanse Schans. This iconic attraction is visited by everyone, from locals to foreign tourists. De Zaanse Schans is a historical area situated in a typically Dutch landscape along the river Zaan.
"De Zaanstreek" (region along the river 'Zaan') is known as one of the oldest industrial areas of Europe. The houses, warehouses and windmills on the Zaanse Schans are authentic premises from the Zaanstreek. Hundreds of windmills were located here and during its peak year around 1720, no less than 600 windmills were in simultaneous use.
The wood processing and food processing industries have been the most important trades in the Zaanstreek for a long time. Along the shores of the Zaan, weaving mills, forges, and a variety of other 17th and 18th century processing industries (tobacco, cocoa, paper, paint, candles) were sited. The maritime and ship-building sectors were also widely represented. Almost every village in the Zaanstreek was engaged in whale fishing. In 1697 almost 80 Greenland sailors returned back to the Zaan with no less than 40,000 barrels of whale blubber!
With the invention of the steam engine, most of the windmills disappeared from the area. About 15 of them have been preserved and a few of these can still be seen in action at the Zaanse Schans. The iconic wooden green and white ‘Zaanse’ houses can also be seen here.