Friday, 14 December 2012

Marken | Holland´s True Heritage Site Crossing a 50's Causeway.



Marken is an emblematic Holland´s true heritage site crossing a 50's causeway, a very captivating destination which shows in all its splendour the genuine, true beauty of a centre rich of history and attractions representing with its indisputable charm something of extremely fascinating at first sight elevating itself since a long time ago as one of the most visited sites of a splendid country, The Netherlands which all around its territory offers the chance to admire shining jewels like that deserving to be visited once in a life.

Situated in the province of North Holland at just 24,0 kilometres from the always trendy Capital Amsterdam, that picturesque site is part of the municipality of Waterland and it was originally an island in the Zuiderzee, a shallow bay of the North Sea at approximately 2,7 kilometres  from the mainland transformed in a peninsula in 1957 in the Markermeer thanks to a superb operation which was among the most relevant civil projects executed in those years in the country and in Europe.

That picturesque centre is a place you can not miss if you are planning to visit the major centre of Holland adding that destination without hesitations in a radial excursion by bus or in the case of a tailor made tour enjoying a magnificent Fly & Drive why not as a relevant stage with a stay during a well planned significant itinerary.

That marvel is certainly unique and special  in its kind, immediately in its boundaries you will breathe in the air something of extremely inspiring, a feeling immediately transmitted in a simple walk strolling its appealing streets where the old local traditions linked to centuries of history with important chronological events have created around that Dutch land a sort of magic  aura.
 
An important, relevant aspect is undoubtedly that it is a centre on human scale and that is a very relevant aspect because the visitor can immediately enter in deep contact with the present reality boasting a very accentuated local identity characterised by its defined architecture, lifestyle, costumes all features highlighted by a very preserved cultural spirit.

All that is still alive than ever since a long time ago because it has always been a desire of the locals something totally rooted in the inhabitants soul who due to their pride and sense of belonging have been able to maintain their community entirely intact saving an outstanding heritage patrimony and all that is highly visible in a while including in its most remote alleys.

A magnificent conservation of the architectural, natural environment are details which you will immediately notice in a while, everything is greatly preserved, jealousy kept as a precious treasure in a coffer to defend.

That is something which delights the view of every tourist also transmitting admiration for all what the locals were able to create generation by generation and constantly focused to protect something which appears as sacred and venerated.

In the last decades thanks to its considerable historical patrimony and the proximity of Amsterdam (if you are interested I wrote a post a post about that city) Marken has had a relevant further boom in terms of incoming tourism flows especially due to many excursions planned from the Capital by local Tour Operators which since many years ago provide a vast range of sightseeing tours offering the opportunity to discover the appeal of several attractions in the province of North Holland.

Many of them are combined sightseeing tours with a half day visit including Volendam or also in plans routes which have as protagonists the iconic Edam, windmills and other further options.(I also wrote a post about that other beautiful destination if you are interested)

 A notable detail linked to that is highly reflected in terms of statistics related to indexes of incoming flows of notable relevance is that site which despite has a bit less of 2,000 of inhabitants receives about one millions of visitors a year, certainly a remarkable date with number which speaks for themselves giving you a very quick explanation about the appeal it transmits.

Visiting Marken is very suggested for all the tourists who have a strong desire to discover the culture of a place which historically has a lot to narrate boasting splendid architectural masterpieces highlighted by superb buildings erected in a refined Neo-Renaissance style and naturally its scenic location in a corner very suggestive and picturesque.


A notable cultural detail related to the inhabitants which worth a special mention often recognised is highlighted by a typical accent and a dialect called Markens, the locals continue to use it with pride handed down from generation to generation keeping it as a sort of distinctive emblem of the community,  something kept with a veiled jealousy as to be different than others.


 In addition another folk heritage detail is extremely alive than ever because the inhabitants continue after a secular, typical tradition to  wear their original costumes as the old predecessors, protagonists  are also the famous Klompen, wooden clogs considered a national icon since the 13th century, including in most recent times you can see local young people very proud to exhibit them, symbols considered as a sort of identification.

A vast range o other aspects make that place unique in its kind highlighted by another relevant topic permitting only people born and bred there or in a second special case direct descendants of local immigrants to be resident in Marken.
 
All that was established since a long time ago to keep the preservation of the native heritage,  as a kind of cultural defence, a barrier established against peculiar influences which could ruining or altering something strongly conserved, beloved, deeply present since centuries ago.

Also Religion is strongly linked to all that, in Marken the predominant faith is the Protestant embraced in that famous Dutch Religious Reform which took place in the 16th century which changed the history of the Nation with the advent of the Calvinism, a stage which in its kind mutated the history of the entire country and that site entirely absorbed that change.

A further theme highly interesting is to discover how during the course of all its chronological stages  the importance of the North Sea played an important role in a land which has always fought with the strength of the water but with successful results creating something of extremely important in terms of trade, activities which made the fortune of an entire Nation highly regarded and elevated as a great example to emulate.

Historically the former village has always had as most important sources of life  navigation, trade and fishing especially the latter has represented a vaunt and pride since many centuries ago with skilled fishermen particularly linked to the iconic herring catch.

That sea product consecrated Holland as one of the most relevant Nations in the world for that kind activity also for the establishment of a notable fleet which for long time dominated the ranking of the international panorama thanks to a considerable plan of organisation with many harbours exclusively prepared for that.

The geographic position of Marken facing the previously mentioned Volendam creating constant contacts with that well known centre played together an important historic role in the golden ages of The Netherlands forming a very important bipolar complex of relevance for the economy and businesses linked to that kind of industry. (I wrote a post about that other enchanting Dutch town)

That fairytale destination which charm all people for its scenic image offers an excellent network of comfortable accommodations, another aspect to take in consideration next to a well known delicious gastronomy, two details pretty loved by a multitude of visitors elevating the local Hospitality and Catering industries at a notable level satisfying all the most demanding requests.

Kind locals always ready to suggest you further information to visit some sites of high interest in the immediate surroundings is another aspect very appreciated by many tourists.

Stunning communications permitting to reach in a very short time other destinations is undoubtedly a further incentive to enjoy fabulous holidays in that corner of Holland discovering more attractions, completing itineraries very significant.

To know better the chronological historic steps of Marken we need to come back before the Medieval era when originally the old inhabitants built some rudimental stilts on that small former island facing the strength of the sea and often the strong, impetuous winds which characterise the climatic conditions of that area in winter season.

Since the Middle Ages all the country was furthermore well known for its constant struggle trying to to gain lands under the sea level  with the establishments of numerous dams with the development of outlined, marked systems of canals and barriers.

Those operations were constantly managed during many years of hard works with considerable efforts of the local population who frequently lived in status of extreme alert often sacrificing their lives for the future generations.

In the 12th century that island started to be inhabited according to historic documentations by some Monks coming from Northeastern Holland concretely from the Friesland, that province with capital Leeuwarden well known for an important city as Groningen, a territory which was originally part of of a large region called Frisia with some lands in German territory.

After that relevant Monastic presence, arose a tiny agglomeration consisting in a compact nucleus of houses mainly populated by farmers and fishermen who started their activities.

Approximately three centuries later in the 15th century the locals built their residences using a system of ancient origin coming back in more modern key to that system established by the first settlers consisting in wooden stilts which were immediately reinforced after their construction by strong beams using more resistant materials to keep those buildings safe and protected by inundation risks.

Those works represented a sort of warning but there was later the need to develop something safer to defend the constructions as the construction of a dam as a shield for the settlement to face the the constant threats and pitfalls of sea, an operation considered of primary importance due to several natural disasters generated in those territories under the level of sea.

In different periods that very clever people always aimed to search solutions to face that challenging defiance tried with numerous efforts to win against the power of nature, events which characterised many years of the local history of Holland.
  
It is also certain that during those old times Marken despite its long battles to save its boundaries lost a big part of its former territory, including some buildings which were part of its historical, cultural heritage as a medieval Church were literally devoured by the waters of the North Sea, deleted by the local scenery and according to historic records over a third part of the first and original village disappeared

After several improvements, experiments, tests, intense works with continuous challenging attempts that site obtained a major level of security with the former constructions totally abandoned, replaced by the current picturesque wooden houses you can see nowadays which in their kinds became an emblematic architectural symbol of that place and of The Netherlands too.

What is really impressive and captivating apart the splendid colours and lines reflected in the local architecture is that those beautiful structures despite many years of struggle are still perfectly conserved and today they are one of the most enchanting landmarks of Marken representing with their image a complex which is a magnificent Holland´s True Heritage Site.

When the village started to have a stability it started to become one of the most important fishing centres of the entire country, the fishermen organised a fleet related to that activity at the beginning mainly devoted to herring catch.

Some years later apart that centre became a sort of of pioneer in Holland regarding whale fishing with the extraction of oil from those big cetaceans, creating in its boundaries a development of some factories and also that left as relevant mark in the locals who perfectly know all the secrets of catch, marine life and navigation.
 
Between the 19th and 20th centuries Marken became a destination of several ethnographers, folklorists and anthropologists attracted by that place for different kinds of studies.

Among them there was Johann Friedrich Blumembach, a German anthropologist, physician, naturalist well known because he was one of the pioneers to explore the study of mankind related to natural history. Once there that man who was also Professor at the University of Göttingen examined a skull from the island humans calling it in 1828 Batavus genuinus.

Another resident was the Belgian Symbolist painter Xavier Mellery who reached that village in 1876 after an invitation of a compatriot, the novelist Charles De Coster who after introducing him the island asked that artist to deliver some drawings for the Tour du Monde magazine.

Cornelis Lely, a Statesman but also civil engineer from Amsterdam decided to establish a dike in 1941 focused to incorporate Marken in the Markerwaard, a polder in the IJsselmeer never built because those works were interrupted due to the events of the Second World War.

Marken ceased to be an island when the operations re-started until the 50's when it was linked to the mainland by the notorious Waterlandse Zeedijk ended in 1957 connecting that land to the coastline, Monnickendam and the territory of Waterland by that famous causeway which was a stunning masterpiece of civil engineering highly appreciated worldwide.

The name of that site derives from Markermeer, that huge sea lagoon formed in the North Sea and until 1991 it was an independent municipality becoming part of Waterland in that concrete year.

Historically apart those splendid houses and that superb construction which in its kind changed the history of a country in terms of communications a great visit of its boundaries will introduce you in a marvellous journey the beauty of a place which never deleted the links with its past and also that is since the beginning very captivating.

The core of that centre is mainly concentrated west and south of Marker Museum which represents one of the most important highlights, a special site situated in a position in which arose the beating local heart of the community.

Fom there along Buurtenstraat, one of the main local arteries you can reach Havenbuurt, consisting in an axis close to the Haven, the harbour which is another icon for all what it represented since its establishment reachable in a pleasant walk of approximately 400,0 metres practically crossing all the inhabited environment.

Westerstraat is another relevant point of reference consisting in a parallel street of Buurterstraat separated from it by a canal also leading to the port, along it you can find some restaurants, cafes, bars, ideal to enjoy a cool drink or deciding to have a delicious lunch or dinner before or after the visit.

Strolling the streets of that captivating centre you will have the opportunity to discover many beautiful things. Despite its small size Marken is highly attractive with a lot of special, captivating fairytale corners in a reality surrounded by a very pleasant calm, peaceful atmosphere.

An aspect you will immediately notice is the presence of several charming wooden buildings well combined with others erected on two levels using a mix  of materials especially red brick and some details in timber.

Those traditional constructions followed a sort of urban plan organised to conserve the local image  without strange architectural peculiarities or disfiguring the setting with bizarre anomalies.
  
They are mainly characterised by large rectangular windows placed over the portals or flanking them with high stylish facades beneath charming sloping roofs and what is simply impressive is the perfect geometry with a notable sense of symmetry of all the elements inserted in the layouts.

That enjoyable view is the fruit of a perfect conservation highly desired to establish a more than harmonious image including with a respect of colours, lines of the constructions in every street, a detail very relevant which makes that site unique in its kind and all that will accompany you in a visit you will probably remember forever.

You can start from Kerkbuurt with Marker Museum, mandatory if you are planning a trip to that stunning Dutch centre, certainly also for its location is a clever anticipation of an enjoyable tourist route, because it is the most emblematic cultural site, a stunning, complete introduction representing Holland in the Waterland territory.

That very interesting exhibition was opened in 1983, it comprises six smokehouses which were originally used for smoking eel but that activity is not longer in use and it was awarded by the Dutch Ministry of Education, Culture and Science with the title of Rijksmonument, a national heritage siter of The Netherlands.

That exhibition recalls all the local chronological periods displaying an ample variety of objects, utensils, clothes, items showing in addition all the most important aspects of the local traditions and lifestyle in different times.

The local identity and true heritage is strongly transmitted in well illustrated, different spaces of that museum with special mention to folklore and the origin of the first community. 

A further special highlight is a step by step of the most relevant stages starting from the golden ages until the transformation of that site from an island to a peninsula with the construction of that famous causeway in the 50's.

Marker Museum to launch a great message to the visitors was sensitive to create inside its rooms a lively representation of a local house with the presence of traditional furniture, decorations you will see in that special building

All that is certainly a great highlight introducing you to learn more also regarding the style and taste of the inhabitants related to arrange an interior apart obviously the chance to admire some specific architectural details used inside of the structure with some well marked features as the use of timber in specific corners inside and outside that complex.

After that suggestive and more than interesting visit you can continue reaching Hervormde Kerk which is the local Reformed Church, main Religious building of the community elevated in in 1904.

The structure shows splendid lines, reflecting the traditional artistic style used to develop Sacred Calvinist Religious sites with canons merged as a distinctive movement of revival strongly connected to the period immediately after the Religious reforms in The Netherlands between the 16th and 17th centuries, times which created a school of art of prestige but also inspiring contemporary talented architects and decorators.

Developed on a rectangular plan, that Church is characterised by a high front side beneath a long, wide grey sloping roof with defined, marked outline and along the walls were placed large, curved stained glass windows.

You will notice a notable balance in the entire layout, the spaces between an element and another are almost perfect in terms of distances and there is an outstanding execution in relation to height, width and length of the shape of the structure.

Simply beautiful is the imposing square bell tower elevated on two blocks highlighted by a long, scenic spire while on its facades were placed circular clocks with blue background and golden numbers.

The interior is pretty sober but charming for its simple but at the same time splendid lines exalting symmetrical spaces, one of the main highlights is a beautiful carved pulpit next to a series of high fine stained glass windows which transmits luminosity to the nave and a large part of apse highlighted by the presence of some stylish chandeliers.

In addition you can admire some decorations with models of ships, figures representing the navigation so important in the community one of the most iconic symbols which was the main resource since the beginning of the history of Marken characterising the seafaring spirit of that centre protagonist also in a Sacred site.


That presence can be for someone peculiar or unusual but it is a cultural aspect linking faith, life and work under a common denominator making all that extremely interesting.

After that great view you can continue towards the harbour certainly another place which for its relevance represents the history mainly linked to the oldest activities very active since a long time ago.

Enclosed inside strong banks forming a rectangular space with a narrow exit to the sea protected by  quays its southern side is called Oude Haven corresponding to the old port in which originally started the first historic operations of docking of the local fleet.

From there it is possible to take a ferry with destination Volendam, a must, a beautiful chance to enjoy in that excursion the visit of that other interesting town discovering another identity with the opportunity to see during the navigation the captivating coastline with the conformation of that vast lagoon, the Markermeer admiring furthermore that captivating centre from another perspective.

Havenbuurt is certainly another distinctive attraction of the community and it is the street of the former fishermen developed in the harbour environment.

It represents a sort of picturesque small borough with many beautiful examples of wooden houses perfectly lined along that artery spreading an outstanding, scenic beauty because those structures were elevated with same size in height, width, a very charming image which was greatly studied to give also a very special aesthetic appeal


Those historic houses has always played an important role in Marken, what you will notice is that there is a total absence of bizarre contrasts ruining the harmony of the local setting and it is all that which saved the environmental integrity elevating that group of buildings as an emblem of the country often represented in post cards, covers and brochures.

Marken for that but also for choice never altered its image, the conservation of those constructions as protagonists of the most traditional architecture was the example to follow for other buildings  established later also continuing nowadays in a sort of splendid revival.

Along  that pleasant street you can visit at the civic number 19 a small museum called Kijkhuisje Sijtje Boes, the name of that tiny exhibition is to pay homage to Sitje Boes, a woman who started in the early 20th century her activity with the opening a souvenir shop.

The town decided to pay homage to that lady who supported her birthplace to be furthermore popular thanks also to handcrafts, items, and objects which were sold in that establishment.

Situated in Vuurtoren at the extreme eastern point of the peninsula you can see  Paard Van Marken, the lighthouse, a further emblem of that centre.That impressive structure is approximately 50,0 metres high, a relevant attraction of the community declared Historic Patrimony of Holland in 1839.

Paard Van Marken is very famous all around The Netherlands because since a long time ago was one of the most important structures to indicate with its light the route along the coastline to many boats and ships transporting goods, a fundamental reference for several merchants in transit along the IJsselmeer and also for the local fishermen coming back from their trips across the North Sea.

That emblematic lighthouse was also a strategic symbol during the times of the golden ages of the Dutch maritime mercantile  activities which created trade companies and monopolies in far countries such as Malacca, Ceylon, Mauritius, Taiwan next other places of Asia and America.

Do not miss a pleasant walk along Wandelroute Rond Marken over De Dijk, a scenic pedestrian street but providing a cycling lane ideal for an enjoyable promenade spending lovely times admiring the local picturesque scenery.

On that lovely hallway you can enjoy the view of the captivating  natural environment highlighted by a charming verdant plain, tiny scattered agglomerations characterised by typical wooden houses, fascinating old farms admiring splendid landscapes reflecting the most pure, true and genuine image of the most enchanting rural Holland in all its splendour. 

Marken as previously mentioned is very famous to be a traditional and historic fishing town, the always fresh sea products you can taste there are considered  among the best of the entire country cooked in different styles such as grilled, baked, fried, boiled, in soups or in sauce.  

Cod is certainly one of the great delights and that kind of fish of supreme quality is very appreciated by a multitude of people, also of superb reputation is the delicious herring boasting a secular tradition.

 Very tastefully are in addition the superb Garnalen, prawns simply fantastic to prepare a cocktail, do not miss the exquisite Oesters,  oysters with a considerable reputation while deserve a special mention the the iconic Paling, eel considered a local pride.

A typical dish is the Hutspot, a stew prepared with potatoes, onion carrots just like the Erwtensope, nother speciality very popular consisting in a homemade casserole made with pig feet, different kinds of vegetables such as celery, leek, carrot adding potatoes, pepper, salt, pig feet or depending of the local tradition using in the preparation sausages and minced meat.

Some plates are often accompanied by the Boreenkool which consists in cooked cabbage including sausages as the popular Rokworst and Metwors or combined with  Kroketten, delectable meat balls.

There is in all Holland a wide selection of excellent cheeses and you will find a wide variety of cakes. About beverages you can enjoy an ample choice of Dutch beers, absolutely of high level and more than appreciated worldwide.
   
It is very easy to reach Marken from Amsterdam Centraal Station which provides a service of buses linking the Dutch Capital to that beautiful small centre in about 40 minutes by bus number 311 with stop at Kerkbuurt Marken you will easily be at destination

In the case you want to enjoy a radial guided excursion there are different Coach Tours managed by  local Incoming Tour Operators, you can directly  book them online or in your selected Hotel.I added some links below, useful to organise your stay with some recommended accommodations in the case you want to spend overnights in Marken.

A visit with a stay in that site if you are planning a trip to Holland is very suggested, a must because it is one of the best attractions you can find at a very short distance from the major centre of The Netherlands ,simply the view coming by bus or car in the case you are enjoying a stunning Fly & Drive of  that small picturesque site will immediately show you why.

That Holland´s true heritage site is fantastically highlighted by a charming, scenic image greatly alive crossing that causeway developed in the 50's  which represents another attraction unique in its kind which will delight you.

Marken will enchant you at first sight, it will be an unforgettable experience to admire something simply special, extremely attractive remembering it with immense pleasure forever.

Francesco Mari


Recommended Accommodations in Marken and surroundings in the case you prefer an accommodation there than to stay in Amsterdam

Hotel Restaurant Hof Van Marken
Lake Land Hotel - (That Hotel is situated at Monnickendam approximately 9,0 kilometres from Marken) 


Recommended Restaurants in Marken

Restaurant Aan De Haven
Restaurant De Visscher


Useful links





No comments:

Post a Comment

Thanks a lot to read and note.