Monnickendam is one of our favorite stops on our tours. This is one of the oldest towns in Holland, dating from the 14th century. It’s off the beaten path, with hardly any tourist in sight.
Monnickendam was founded by monks from Friesland, in the north of The Netherlands. It was one of the founding towns of the Vereenigde Oostindische Compagnie (V.O.C.), the Dutch East India Company. Back in the Seventeenth Century Monnickendam used to be on the seaside, with direct access to the whole world. No wonder this town delivered lots of sea captains for the ever growing navy and trading fleet of the V.O.C..
Although Monnickendam has lots of history and a couple of extraordinary buildings and sites to see, it is not on the tourist map. That’s because it’s inaccessible for big tour buses and it has no train station. This makes Monnickendam a beautiful and quiet little town, and a perfect stop on our small groups tour.
The centre of town is a protected cityscape with old houses, churches and shops. Like most towns on the IJsselmeer, Monnickendam was heavily dependent on fishing. When the sea was closed off in the 1930’s and the Zuiderzee became the biggest freshwater lake in Europe, the fishing industry suffered. But Monnickendam revived itself by building a big harbor.
Flat bottomed ships
It now is a big marina with hundreds of ‘botters’, ‘klippers’ and ‘tjalken’, old ships converted into pleasure boats. Most of these ancient ships are flat bottomed, in order to navigate the shallow Dutch waters. Not having a keel also enabled these ships to lie on a sandbank at low tide, without capsizing. Pretty handy! In stead of a keel, these ships have huge planks on either side. These ‘swords’ enable the ship to keep a course when sailing. We will see lots of these ships as we drive through the very narrow streets of Monnickendam, where we also will have a look at the pretty little lock systems that keep Holland dry. See the difference in water level for yourself and marvel at the ingenuity of the Dutch. If after Monnickendam you’re not in love with our engineering mentality, then we don’t know what will.
|Country name||The Netherlands|