The Zaanse Schans is an open air conservation area and museum, on the east bank of the Zaan River, north of Zaandam in the Netherlands. It displays the traditional architecture of the area (green wooden houses) and has several functioning windmills and craftsman’s workshops, which are open to visitors. Located next to it is the regional museum, the Zaans Museum.

windmills Zaanse Schans

Zaanse Schans is one of the most popular tourist attractions in the Netherlands, being very close to Amsterdam. The buildings, most of which have been transported here from elsewhere in the region, have all been meticulously restored, making it a very pretty site – but at the same time it’s not very authentic: it is an idealized re-creation of a Dutch village from the late 19th century.

Keep in mind that 4 of the 5 windmills you see here today are not in their original position, they have been taken from their original site and were rebuilt in the open air museum. All of them are kept in operating condition, so you will have a good chance to see them working (wind permitting, of course). What you see here today is however only a faint echo of what the Zaan river must have looked like before the Industrial Revolution; more than 1100 industrial windmills were built here between the 17th and 19th century. Much of the restoration and operating work is done by the volunteers of the foundation De Zaansche Molen.

List of windmills. The windmills were built after 1574.

  • De Huisman (The Houseman), a mustardmill
  • De Gekroonde Poelenburg (The Crowned Poelenburg), a sawmill
  • De Kat (The Cat), a dyemill
  • Het Jonge Schaap (The Young Sheep), a sawmill
  • De Os (The Ox), an oilmill
  • De Zoeker (The Seeker), an oilmill
  • Het Klaverblad (The Cloverleaf), a sawmill
  • De Bonte Hen (The Spotted Hen), an oilmill

Here is a photographic impression of windmills of the Zaanse Schans.