Visit the windmills in Zaanse Schans. These are the real deal: fully restored wooden structures from the 17th and 18th centuries.
Are windmills and museum villages still a thing? Absolutely. In honor of the windmill, the Netherlands hosts a National Windmill Day. And when it comes to historic villages, the Zaanse Schans (rhymes with Kwansa ponds), positively thrums with windmill-loving visitors.
Seeing inside the windmill is easy, especially if you travel by boat. Named after the river Zaan, the Zaan Hopper ferry transports visitors from the center of Zaandam (20 minutes from Amsterdam) to the open-air Zaanse Schans.
Fast-forward to the windmills: those in Zaanse Schans are the real deal: fully restored wooden structures from the 17 th and 18 th centuries. And these are mostly working mills, producing mustard, flour, and cocoa, among other commodities.
Most stunning is the mills’ physical size. Compared to the sleekly engineered turbines of today, the Zaanse Schans windmills from centuries ago are unexpectedly enormous. And there’s authenticity in the interior of these historic buildings: visitors can see how efficiently the working parts of these small factories are packed into one space. Climbing toward the top, while dizzying, affords a spectacular view of the village and its surroundings.