The Netherlands are known for a few things in particular: wooden clogs, magnificent tulips and historic windmills. If you're stopping into Amsterdam during Europe travel, you should take a day to see Dutch history right outside the city at Zaanse Schans. The entire countryside was covered in windmills once upon a time, but there aren't too many right by the city of Amsterdam.
Check out the history of windmills in the Netherlands and a few you can tour while visiting Zaanse Schans.
A brief history
When windmills were first constructed, they were meant to pump water out of the ground. According to the Public Broadcasting Service, roughly 25 percent of the country is located below sea level, so flooding has always been a common problem. As time went on, the Dutch started using windmills to produce a variety of goods, ranging from food stuffs to pigment for paint. I amsterdam explained how each May brings National Windmill Day, a joyous occasion when people decorate the structures with flowers and such.
About Zaanse Schans
Zaanse Schans is a historic community about 15 minutes away from Amsterdam's city centre, where you can find a cluster of windmills, museums and other traditional attractions. Dutch wooden architecture is evident from houses and barns to museums and mills - many of which were relocated to the area starting in the 1960s. You can visit clog- and cheese-making areas, the windmill museum and even take a boat ride at Zaanse Schans. There's also a museum dedicated to clock-making, as well as another dedicated to the baking industry. Zaanse Schans does have a general entrance fee, but some of the windmills cost a few euro to enter. Don't miss the shops where you can buy items actually made by the windmills.