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De vijftig regio's van Friesland

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The southwestern tip of the Frisian mainland is an intriguing region. By the car, it is an area hard to reach. And the Sneek - Stavoren train also doesn’t carry large crowds of people either. It is therefore a beautiful, tranquil area. The soothing peace of today stands in stark contrast to the turbulent and busy past.

Already in 991 Stavoren was looted by the Normans. Apparently it was already a prosperous, rich city at that time. Thanks to its strategic location on the Zuiderzee, Stavoren had even become the most important city in Friesland in the thirteenth century. When the Dutch count Willem IV wanted to conquer Stavoren in 1345, he ordered a part of his fleet to land north of the town. The rest of the army landed at Laaksum and would advance to Stavoren via Warns. The battle that ensued later became famous as the Battle of Warns, which ended in a miserable defeat for the Dutch and the death of Count Willem. The road from Scharl to Warns, along which the Dutch knights faced their demise, was called ’the ferkearde wei’ (the wrong way) until well into the twentieth century and is still popularly referred to this among the locals. At the monument on the Red Cliff a boulder with the text "Leaver dea as slave" (rather dead than slave), the battle is commemorated every year on the last Saturday of September.

Stavoren experienced periods of great wealth, but also of decline and downturn. The latter is the subject of the beautiful saga of "het Vrouwtje van Stavoren". (the lady of Stavoren) At the old harbor there is a statue of this haughty, rich widow who, as the story goes, has the origins of the Women’s Sands on her conscience: a shallow area off the coast that hindered shipping and would, therefore, be the cause of the decline of the town.

At the beginning of the nineteenth century, Stavoren was little more than a minor fishing village. A new impulse was the rail connection with Sneek (1885) and especially the ferry service at Enkhuizen, which started a year later. In 1888 a collision took place between the two steamboats "Friesland" and "Holland". This time ’victory’ was for Holland: the "Friesland" miserably disappeared into the waves. In 1899, the first of three steam ferries were put into operation onto which train wagons could be driven. In 1916, a peak year for the ferries, no fewer than 340,000 passengers and 43,000 freight cars were transported.

Nowadays Stavoren is a dormant, beautiful IJsselmeer town that comes alive especially in the summer thanks to water sports tourism. But also for non-boat people, the town is more attractive. Taste the unique atmosphere while walking. Come and visit Atelier Basalt, Kunsthuis Stavoren or Galerie De Staverse Jol. Or take a look at Toankamer ’t Ponthûs. And if you still want to get on the water, make a crossing to Enkhuizen with the current tourist ferry service. Also, the neighbouring Molkwerum and Warns used to be prosperous places thanks to trade and shipping. Because of the "islands" on which it was built, Molkwerum was long known as the ’Frisian Maze’ or ’Venice of the North’. Another nickname was "Heksenhol", which refers to the women whose men often stayed at sea for a long time. The village was known for trade in swan-brine meat and had its own representation in Amsterdam. Since 1916, the famous Molkwarder Koeke has been made in the village, a specific Frisian delicacy. Nowadays there is an Antiquity room with a tea-house in the original bakery Warns still has a number of so-called ’big skipper houses’. Nowadays, it is mainly pleasure boaters who have the village as their home port. There are various tourist accommodation options and a number of studios and galleries.

Besides the rich and turbulent history and the current tourist facilities, the area is also, and perhaps especially, worth a visit because of the beautiful landscape, nature and tranquility. The high-lying Red Cliff, the picturesque harbor of Laaksum, the low-lying Sudermarpolder, the former sea dike, the Mokkebank nature reserves and the "Bocht van Molkwar" and the vast IJsselmeer, which the locals still call "the See" for good reason. All that forms the beautiful backdrop in which you can enjoy a wonderful time.

The area south of Dokkum is known as the Dokkumer Wâlden (Woodlands). Here is a sandy ridge on which a unique landscape has developed over the centuries. Characteristic are the alder-lanes that form the separation between the plots. The wide-open landscape of the sea clay area north of Dokkum makes way for a semi-closed, so-called coulisses-landscape.

The alternation between open areas, alder-lanes and small pieces of woodlands provides the area with its unique own charm. It is obvious that it is designated as part of the Dutch National Landscape "De Noordelijke Friese Wouden"

The area was inhabited on the higher sand ridge as early as 4000 BC. However, due to rising sea levels, the area changed over the centuries into an inaccessible bog area. From around the year 1100 the area was developed from the northern sea clay area. Across the north-south oriented subdivision, a series of villages emerged on the original sand ridge: Driesum, Wouterswoude, Dantumawoude, Murmerwoude, Akkerwoude, and Rinsumageest. The last three were merged in 1971 into the village of Damwoude. ’Dam’ is constructed of the three initial letters of the original villages.

The Dokkumer Wâlden is a paradise for everyone who loves peace, nature and landscape beauty. Nevertheless, all facilities for a pleasant stay are present. The area also has a lot to offer in terms of cultural history: medieval churches, windmills, the nearby fortified town of Dokkum, the Cihorei Museum De Sûkerei, etc. The Dokkumer Wâlden are ideal for exploring by bike or on foot. Canoe enthusiasts can visit the Valomstervaart, which forms the southern boundary of the area and provides access to the peat area west of the De Dokkumer Wâlden.

The "separation" (in Frisian "Skieding") is the appropriate name for the road that runs from Surhuisterveen to the south. This road forms the provincial border between the provinces of Groningen and Friesland. The landscape on both sides is the result of peat and heathland reclamation. The dense pattern of small roads, the large number of scattered buildings along those roads and the typical wooded banks and alder lanes give the area a small-scale, private character. The plots are generally elongated; only around the heath villages Boelenslaan and Houtigehage is the allotment more block-shaped.

The villages in the area are relatively young and because of their history as peat excavation villages they often have no clearly visible and recognizable core. Drachten, which has since become the second-largest town in Friesland, did not exist as such until well into the seventeenth century. The impetus for growth was formed by the contract that the so-called "Drachtster Compagnons" signed in 1641 to excavate the bog north and east of the current city center.

The fact that this is a border area is evident from the fact that a large proportion of the inhabitants of the, formally Groninger village of Opende are actually Frisian. In addition to the cultural aspect, both provinces also "merge" in landscape terms. This also applies to the border area south of the A7 highway. There are Frieschepalen and De Wilp, among others, villages whose "outskirts" lie in the neighboring province.

The area around the Skieding offers a friendly, characteristic and varied landscape. It is perfect for exploring by bike or on foot. In good weather, Strandheem is a wonderful destination: a recreational lake where you can swim, surf and lie on the beach. And if shopping or attending theatre or concerts is more of your "cup of tea"? Drachten is just next door!

For many, Harlingen is the most beautiful of the Frisian "Elfsteden" (eleven cities). Of course, you should not argue about taste, but the city of ’Ouwe Seunen’ (the nickname of Harlingen) has something the other ten cities don’t have: the unique atmosphere of a real seaport city. Harlingen is a lively, bustling city during the water sports season. But also in the winter, the various ports ensure "life in the brewery".

The first port was already built around 1500. Thanks to the flourishing trade and shipping, the city grew explosively in the second half of the sixteenth century. When the Frisian Admiralty was moved from Dokkum to Harlingen in 1645, the city also became a naval port at that time.

The rich past can be seen in the more than 500 (!) Monumental builings in the city. One of them, the Hannemahuis, houses the municipal museum, where the history of the city comes to life in a fascinating way. You can get different city walks here. Another interesting museum is the Harlinger Aardewerkmuseum, located at the Zoutsloot canal. This picturesque canal is in the winter the scenic backdrop for a Christmas market that has become one of the most original and atmospheric in the Netherlands. Two other annual events that are worth a visit are the so-called ’Lanenkaatsen’ (third week of June) and the Harlinger-Visserijdagen (fishing days) end of August. We would like to refer art lovers to ’Art on the coast’

The contrast between the lively Harlingen and the surrounding area is great. The peace and quiet in the western part of the ’Bouhoeke’, the agricultural area north of the Harlingen - Leeuwarden line is only occasionally disturbed by the sound of agricultural machines. During the first three decades of the twentieth century, a steam train was also regularly heard: the Stiens-Harlingen railway line of the Noord-Friesche Lokaalspoorweg Maatschappij ran through the area. The State Railways had already opened the Harlingen-Leeuwarden line in 1863, the first railway line in Friesland.

The names of all the villages in this region end with -um, which is derived from Germanic "heem", which means ’place of residence’ and is still reported in Frisian in the word "hiem". In this area, which was not protected against the sea until well after the beginning of the Christian era, these residences were necessarily placed on artificial elevations in the salt marsh landscape: so-called terpen. These residential manmade mounds were often erected on existing natural elevations in the landscape, the salt marshes. A famous mound is that of Wijnaldum. Special archaeological finds have been made here in the past. A visit to the archaeological information center is worthwhile.

The construction of dikes began around 1000. One of them is the Slachtedyk, which is more than 42 kilometers long. In 2000, the dike was the route for the Slachtemarathon for the first time, which has since been organized every four years. But you don’t have to wait until the next edition: the dike is freely accessible. And when you set off on your own, you experience the beautiful landscape, the peace, and quiet all the more! And of course, you may also walk a small part of the route ...

The current monumental seadike also has an irresistible attraction for many. When the weather is nice, the view over the Waddensea in front and the land behind is truly magical! And with ’rough’ weather, when the function of the dike is palpable and visible, you can almost be ’blown away’ literally and figuratively. There are so-called ’dyksputten’ here and there on the inside of the dike, which combined forms the Bjirmen nature reserve.

The history of the area is explained in a clear and expressive way on the village site of Sexbierum. But not before the intriguing name of the village has been addressed ... Because of the presence of quite a few monumental farms and stately homes of notables, Sexbierum and the neighboring Pietersbierum exude a certain grandeur.

It will be clear: Harlingen is more than just the place where the boat to and from Vlieland or Terschelling departs and arrives and the surroundings will pleasantly surprise you. Take a few days to explore the monumental, cozy city and the beautiful, relaxing environment. Three unique accommodation options ensure the ’ultimate harbor feeling’. You can if you want, sleep in a harbor crane, a lighthouse or a lifeboat. What else do you want!

Good wine needs no bush. That also applies to Gaasterland, a unique part of the Netherlands. The slightly sloping landscape shows an unprecedented variation: meadows, fields, forest, heathland, reed lands, swamp, water, low-lying diked polders, and high-lying ’gaast’ and cliffs. Centuries ago the area ’between Mar and Klif’ (the Frisian lakes and the cliffs along the IJsselmeer) was in demand as a residential area for the nobility. And when tourism started to rise very slowly in the second half of the nineteenth century, it was not for nothing that Gaasterland was one of the first areas to benefit from it. For very many people, the area name has a magical sound that evokes memories of the holidays they have spent there. The long tourist tradition also means that the area is completely geared to tourism. Nevertheless, Gaasterland has fully retained its authenticity.

Staatsbosbeheer, Natuurmonumenten and It Fryske Gea manage a large number of different areas in Gaasterland that deserve protection because of their natural and / or landscape value: forests, heaths, cliffs, polders and areas outside the dikes. There are too many to list, and naming a few would be detrimental to the other areas. Hence: take a look at the websites of these organizations and discover the wide variety of nature and landscapes. Once you are in the area, we heartily recommend a visit to the "Mar en Klif" regional information center. The center is located in the beautiful green village of Oudemirdum and offers a wealth of information about the nature, history, and culture of Gaasterland.

The area can be discovered in many different ways. By bicycle, on foot, on horseback, by motorcycle or in the car; on "Route Zuidwest Friesland" you can indicate what you want and then choose from routes that meet your wishes. A network of nodes has also been developed especially for cyclists, on the basis of which you can compile your own route.

The picturesque river Luts, the Van Swinderenvaart, the Spokershoekvaart, and the Rijstervaart are suitable for small water sports. Together they form the route of the Elfstedentocht that runs through Gaasterland and connects the Slotermeer and Fluessen. The route leads via a small lake that was created by excavating sand for the construction of the N359. Today it is part of the Wyldemerk nature reserve, which was declared the first dragonfly reserve in the Netherlands in 2007.

The tranquility of today contrasts sharply with the history of the location, which also explains the name (’Wilde Markt’). The story is that here a long time ago a (wild) pagan celebration was held here to say goodbye to the summer. It is certainly that later, until the end of the nineteenth century, it was the location for an annual fair and playground, where it often went wild...

From 1954 to 1969 there was a barracks camp for Islamic Moluccans in the area. The mosque built there was the second in the Netherlands. Southeast of Wyldemerk is a beautiful 9-hole natural golf course. Due to the special attention to nature in both construction and management, the course was the first in Europe to receive a so-called ’Green label’.

Playing farmer’s golf is also an option, for example at De Bûterkamp Ice Farm in Oudemirdum. Excursions are also organized there and, as the name implies, traditional ice cream is made and sold. If you want to know (almost) everything about cows after eating that ice cream, you can visit the "Koeienmuseum" in Nijemirdum. Another museum with a special theme is the "Scheermuseum" in Bakhuizen.

You have a beautiful view over the Gaasterland landscape from the air watchtower that was built in the time of the Cold War west of Oudemirdum, on the highest point of Gaasterland. It is a bit of a climb, but then you also have something! You can of course also simply lie on the beach oin the shores of the IJsselmeer, for example at "De Hege Gerzen".

A description of an area such as Gaasterland is of course never complete; there is just too much to see, do, and experience. There is only one solution for the problem: discover the area yourself! You are more than welcome.

"Hier op `e wadden, wereld fan water en slik, won hij lând út see in weer en wyn, skep foor skep, monnikewerk". ("Here on the wadden, world of water and mud, he won land from see in weather and wind, shovel by shovel, monk work".

) This text on the monument "De Slikwerker", which is on the dyke at Zwarte Haan, typifies the history of this special area in Friesland. It is only relatively recently that the water of the Middle Sea flowed here. From the sixteenth century, It Bildt was conquered bit by bit on the sea. The successive embankments are clearly recognizable in the wide landscape, which is dominated by old, less old and new dikes. In between, from the drawing board, a very regular landscape has been plotted with straight and perpendicular roads and waterways.

The impoldering of the Middelzee provided the Frisian residents with help from large numbers of mud workers from Zeeland and South Holland, among others. Many of them continued to live in the area and mixed with the locals. This has created a language of its own, the Bildts. The influence from Holland is also evident from the earlier names for Sint Jacobiparochie, Sint Annaparochie and Vrouwenparochie: Wijngaarden, Altoenae, and Kijfhoek, three (former) villages near Rotterdam.

A very characteristic building pattern has arisen along the Oudebildtdijk (from 1505) and the Nieuwebildtdijk (from 1600). On the north side, against and on the dike, the workers’ houses and to the south of the dike, behind the dike ditch, are the often monumental farms of the weathy farmers who owned the new land at the time. In some places, the ribbon development has grown further into a village. Including the villages Westhoek and Oude Bildtzijl, along the Oudebildtdijk is the longest, more or less closed development ribbon in the Netherlands (11.5 kilometers).

Het Bildt, therefore, has a rich cultural history. But nature lovers can also indulge themselves, especially behind the current sea dike. There lies the Noarderleech. Originally this area would also be reclaimed for agriculture; low dikes (summer dikes) had already been installed. At the insistence of nature organizations, the sea now has more room and the summer polders are gradually being transformed into salt marshes.

Tranquility, space, beautiful views, spectacular cloudy skies, culture, and nature .... The Bildt has a lot to offer! It is not without reason that the most famous Dutch painter, Rembrandt van Rijn, also visited Bildt. There he met Saskia van Uylenburgh, whom he married in 1634 in the reformed church of Sint Annaparochie.

Heerenveen enjoys international fame for iceskating. Thialf was the second covered 400 meter track in the world and is still considered one of the fastest ice rinks in the world. In addition, Heerenveen is of course known for the football club of the same name and the stadium named after the legendary football player Abe Lenstra. But this ’sports city’ and its surroundings have a lot more to offer!

Heerenveen was originally a peat colonial settlement. In 1551, the notables Van Dekema, Van Cuijk, and Foeyts, the ’gentlemen of the peat’, founded the Schoterlandse Veencompagnie, the oldest Dutch high peat colony and the second oldest public limited company in the Netherlands.

They started digging the Heerensloot, along which the peat would be removed. Right after that, the Schoterlandse Compagnonsvaart was dug in an easterly direction, the endpoint of which, with the extraction of the peat, continued to shift. Heerenveen originated at the intersection of these peat canals. These on their turn became the definitive boundaries of the existing "grietenijen" (municipalities). Until a larger municipality came into being in 1934 with the name ’Heerenveen’, which consisted of the formal municipalities of Schoterland, Aengwirden, and part of Haskerland, Heerenveen lay for centuries in three different municipalities.

The past and present of Heerenveen and its surroundings are told and depicted in a fascinating way in Museum Willem van Haren. A separate part of it is entirely devoted to the minister, freethinker, socialist, anarchist and anti-militarist Ferdinand Domela Nieuwenhuis, who has made a special effort to improve the miserable living and working conditions of peat workers in the area.

The living conditions contrasted sharply with those of the notables who settled in the course of the centuries in the area that has since been reclaimed southeast of Heerenveen. In 1676 the Frisian governor Willem Frederik and his wife, Albertine Agnes van Oranje, had an estate constructed here. They were followed by numerous other notables who built country houses and park-like gardens in the area. This has resulted in a very special concentration of country estates with associated service homes and farms, age-old forests, stately lanes and beautiful parks. The whole forms the present-day estate Oranjewoud, an area of ​​400 hectares that is managed by Staatsbosbeheer. The nickname ’Pronkzaal van Friesland’ (Showroom of Friesland) actually says it all.

Part of the estate was designed by Daniël Marot, who also designed the gardens of the Royal palace Het Loo. That part was reconstructed in 2004 in its original, baroque style. The area was also expanded with a new garden, in which the newly built, sleekly designed building of Museum Belvédère (museum of modern Frisian art; highly recommended!) Is beautifully integrated. Oranjewoud Estate is best explored on foot. A walking route of no less than 19 kilometers has been set out by Staatsbosbeheer.

The wider area forms a beautiful, very varied backdrop for cycling trips. To the north of the forest area are the architecturally and urban developmentally interesting residential area of ​​Skoatterwâld and the aforementioned Museum Belvédère. In a southerly direction, the forest area abruptly changes into the open landscape that is formed by grassland on either side of the river Tjonger. Towards the east, there is a gradual transition to a semi-open landscape.

The Frisian Haagje, as Heerenveen and the surrounding area are also called, (with a nod to sophisticated The Hague) has everything to offer for a pleasant stay. The liveliness of the sports and shopping town of Heerenveen, the tranquility, nature and cultural history of Oranjewoud, the culture, architecture and urban design of Museum Belvédère and Skoatterwâld and the very varied landscape of the wider surroundings.

Most Elfstedentocht ice skaters will not be aware that the first part of the journey, from Leeuwarden to Sneek, will ride through an area that was still around sea around the year 1200: the Middelsee. That was a sea inlet from the Wadden Sea deep into the land, which ran west past Leeuwarden, bent off from Raerd to the west and only ended at Bolsward. At Raerd the river De Boorne ended in the Middelsee. Just north of that village is the very special Park Jongemastate, also known as the Raerder woods.

The Middelsee divided Friesland into Westergo and Oostergo. When the sea arm began to silt up, it was gradually being reclaimed into polders from the south from the middle of the eleventh century. The polders were named after the villages that were on the banks of the (former) sea arm: Weidumer Nieuwland, Mantgumer Nieuwland, Wytgaarder Nieuwland, etcetera. The buildings in the ’new lands’ are still limited to scattered farms to this day. As a result, the area has enormous openness and beautiful views: for many Fryslân at its best.

The border between the ’new land’ and the ’old land’ is clearly recognizable in the landscape by the slightly higher, winding roads over the dikes and levies along the former Middelsee. Between Easterwierrum and Boazum, it had sort of a ’bottleneck’: the two banks were less than a kilometer apart. The dike between the two villages is the beginning (or the end) of the famous, more than 42 km long Slachtedyk, which in 2000 formed the first edition and atmospheric backdrop for the Slachtemarathon. This has since been organized once every four years. But you don’t have to wait until the next edition: the dike is freely accessible. And when you set off on your own, you experience the beautiful landscape, the peace, and quiet all the more! And of course, you may also walk a small part of the route...

The Zwette runs right between the banks of the former Middelsee, which for a long time was the most important connection between Leeuwarden and Sneek. Several villages on the banks of the former sea arm were connected to the Zwette via narrow canals. Today, the Zwette is part of the Middelsee route. The boating route, which opened in 2005, makes the area between Leeuwarden, Sneek, Bolsward and Franeker accessible to water sports enthusiasts.

A number of the villages on the banks of the former Middelsee can be reached by boat. Boazum, located on the Boazumer Feart, is an attractive, picturesque village with an authentic village café. Easterwierrum, known for the annual Berne-iepenloftspul, (Childrens open air theatre) is close to the Zwette. Mooring places have been built near the village, just like at Dearsum. That village used to be famous for cattle breeding. The farm of the internationally renowned cattle breeder Durk Schaap, who was visited by Queen Wilhelmina and Prince Hendrik in 1913, now has found new purpose as a luxury recreational home and mini-campsite.

Mantgum is a little further away from the Zwette, but can be reached via the Mantgumer Feart and has its own small harbor. When you take a walk through the picturesque center of the village, it will not surprise you that it has the status of a protected village. Equally beautiful is the "Seerp van Galamawei", the road to the station along the Leeuwarden-Sneek railway line which opened in 1883. Opposite Mantgum, on the other side of the former Middelsee, is Reduzum, which is also accessible from the Zwette for small rental boats and has a marina with 30 berths. On www.reduzum.com you can read that it has always been a progressive village.

But if you are not a watersports enthusiast, this area still has a lot to offer. The quiet country roads, for example, are ideal for cycling. In this way, the other villages are also within reach. For example, take a look at Jellum, which is known for its annual pumpkin festival on the third weekend of September. The nearby Bears is worth a visit because of the "Bezoekerscentrum Uniastate" (Uniastate Visitor Center). The original gate of that estate has been preserved and the earlier contours are represented by means of a steel frame.

Finally, Weidum is highly recommended: a picturesque, somewhat elegant village with a unique, beautiful open space in the middle. The western part of it, at the foot of the mound (with one of the most beautiful churches in Friesland), the field is used for the local local Frisian sport of Kaatsen.

In 2006 this area was the setting for an event that attracted worldwide attention. In the night from October 31 to November 1, in the outer dike area, more than 200 horses were trapped by the water due to storms and floods. For a few days, the herd stood packed together on a higher piece of land. Images of it and of the rescue campaign went around the world and are engraved in the memory of many. More information can be found on Micky Nijboer’s website, who devised the rescue and performed it with five other amazons. There (and also on YouTube) are also the impressive images of the rescue action. Five years after the drama (more than 20 horses were killed), a work of art was unveiled on the dike at Marrum in memory of Machiel Braaksma.

The north of the municipality of Ferwerderadiel is a very interesting area. On a salt marsh that at the time was more or less the coastline, the mound villages of Blija, Ferwert, Marrum, and Hallum were founded a few centuries BC. The main road along these villages follows the route of the dike that was constructed in the eleventh century to protect the land around the villages against the sea. On the outside of the dike, new salt marshland was created by silting up over the centuries. Halfway through the eighteenth century that salt marsh was flooded. The current seawall is a lot higher, but it is still in the same place as at the time.

In the eighteenth century, the four villages each had their own sailing connection with the more southern Dokkumer Ee. At the beginning of the nineteenth century, the area was also opened up by a railway line. This was built and operated by the North Frisian Local Railway Company (NFLS) and ran from Leeuwarden, via Dokkum to Anjum. The line has long been discontinued and the trail has largely disappeared, but the so-called ’Dockumer Lokaeltsje’ still makes the heart beat faster of many Frisians. The route is still recognizable here and there in the landscape and most stations are still there but are often difficult to recognize as such. The latter does not apply to the Marrum-Westernijkerk station, which has been completely restored to its original state.

Back to the dike. On it, near Marrum, is a monumental work of art by Ids Willemsma. It was created on the occasion of the completion of bringing the Frisian Wadden dikes to the so-called "Delta height" between 1963 and 1993. The impressive dike offers a wonderful view of the area North of it, the Noarderleech. A start had already been made on cultivating this silted up area when it was decided to give the sea ’controlled’ a natural influence again. Since the outer summer dikes (low dikes) were punctured, a unique nature reserve has developed on the border of salt and sweet that is freely accessible from 1 July to 15 March and where two nature walks have been plotted.

In addition to nature, the area is also interesting because of the still obvious traces of the process of land reclamation and cultivation: summer dikes, locks, beautiful round drinking water areas surrounded by ring dikes and the remains of a railway track that used to serve for transporting wood (and labor) for the old land reclamation works. There are also two bunkers from the Second World War in the area.

Noord Ferwerderadiel: a surprisingly versatile area, witness to the Dutch "Fight against the water" and a perfect combination of tranquility, nature, culture and landscape beauty.

Between the sources of the Boorne and the Tsjonger, two rivers that drain the water of the Drents Plateau in a westerly direction, there is a varied landscape with forests, heaths, sand drifts, peat bogs, and peat reclamations. It is the border region of the three northern provinces. Allardsoog is the "three-province point". Here lies the "Landweer", a late-medieval defensive wall with ditches on both sides, which was constructed against possible attacks by Drenten and Groningers. This was the first nature reserve to be acquired by the provincial nature conservation association, It Fryske Gea, shortly after its founding in 1930. Nowadays it is part of the Mandefjild-Bakkeveen, a beautiful, varied nature area of ​​261 hectares, with cycling and walking paths and a wheelchair-friendly path. The immediate surroundings of Bakkeveen have traditionally been an attraction for tourists and day visitors. Attractions in the area include an outdoor swimming pool, a maze path and a modern ’belvedere’ (lookout tower). Northeast of the village lies De Slotplaats, an estate that originally dates from 1668. The former country retreat now serves as a restaurant, teahouse and meeting location and is surrounded by a classical garden with a moat. The entire estate forms one of the larger forest areas in Friesland. Very special is the star-shaped "schans" (fortification) discovered in the forest around 1995 and restored at the beginning of this century.

Immediately south of the De Slotplaats estate is the Heide-van-Duurswoude. This nature reserve takes its name from the village of Duurswoude, which was merged in 1973 with the neighboring Wijnjeterp and Wijnjeterpstreek to become Wijnjewoude. With an area of ​​145 hectares, it is the largest contiguous heathland area in Friesland and is bordered on two sides by forest. The area is characterized by a number of smaller and larger, round pools. In part, this concerns so-called "pingo ruins": remains of ice mounds from the last "small" ice age, in which the Netherlands were not covered by an ice sheet, but it was so cold that the surface was permanently frozen (permafrost). The ice mounds were created because relatively warm groundwater seeped up through weak spots in the frozen ground, froze just below the surface and pushed up the ground above. Due to the continuous supply of groundwater, the ice core grew steadily and the layer of earth slid down at a given moment. As the temperature rose, the ice melted and a water-filled hole remained, surrounded by a ring wall: the pingo ruin.

Another special area is the so-called Blue Forest, which lies between Waskemeer, Haule and Haulerwijk and is so named after the bluish spruce that grow there. The coniferous forest is interspersed with deciduous forest, grassland, water, and heath. In short: a very varied area. The entire complex is freely accessible and is perfect for exploring on foot, on horseback or by bicycle With the explicit mention of the above-mentioned areas, the rest of this region is actually being done wrong. The forest and heathland areas are surrounded by extensive peat reclamation, which is also worthwhile in terms of landscape and cultural history. And where in some places there are also important natural values, such as in the Haulerpolder, south of Haule.

The peat mining history can be read from the very regular landscape. This regularity is the result of the often "straight" neighborhoods. These dug ditches were important for the drainage and served for the drainage of the peat. The further distribution took place via the Opsterlandse Compagnonsvaart. This boating connection is nowadays part of the (large) Turfroute, a 230-kilometer boating route through Friesland, Drenthe, and Overijssel.

All in all, it is not the individual, special areas that make this region so attractive, but rather the unique combination of the different types of landscapes on the one hand and the natural and cultural-historical values ​​on the other.

Beesterzwaag became nationally known when the press discovered that the Lauswolt estate was the "secret" location for the discussions that eventually led to the Balkenende IV cabinet. The choice of the political leaders for this environment is not surprising: far away from all hectic, leafy and with the necessary grandeur. It is not for nothing that Beetsterzwaag is also known to the insiders as "the Wassenaar of the North" Traditionally, the surroundings of Beetsterzwaag were already popular with the nobility and patriciate, who realized their estates with country houses there. At the beginning of the nineteenth century, large landowners started to plant forests on a large scale. Since then, the village itself has also developed into a place of residence that to this day is associated with "chic" and "decent". The forest area around Beetsterzwaag is a gem from a landscape point of view: coniferous and deciduous forest alternate and are interrupted by pieces of grassland, heathland, and water. In addition to the Lauswolt estate, which also has a golf course, there is also the beautiful Park-Olterterp parked in the landscape style. In the mansion of the same name, which was built in 1907 to replace an older castle, it is the seat of It Fryske Gea, the provincial association for nature protection. Along the Boorne (also known as Oud- or Koningsdiep), a drainage stream from the Drents Plateau, there is a wide, open strip that cuts through the area from east to west. To the south, the forest area continues and there is also the Liphústerheide, a vast heathland of 6 hectares. Even further south the forest area becomes the semi-open landscape around Hemrik and Lippenhuizen. Here the peat mining history of the area is still clearly recognizable in the tight, elongated subdivision.

The latter also applies to the western part of the region, between Gorredijk and the Wijde Ee (west of Drachten). Here there is a varied landscape that consists of vast peat bogs, small pieces of forest and water. The Boorne continues its way here, and the Nieuwe Vaart and the Polderhoofdkanaal, both dug for drainage and drainage of peat. The perfectly straight Polderhoofdkanaal, which makes a right angle at Nij Beets towards the Nieuwe Vaart, dates from 1875 and was closed to shipping in 1967. In the meantime it has been reopened for recreational sailing. This creates an extra link between the Turfroute, of which the Nieuwe Vaart is a part, and the Frisian Lake District. The museum It Damshûs in Nij Beets offers a beautiful picture of the history and consequences of the peat mining industry in the area.

Last but not least, the Wijnjeterper Schar, a nature area to the east of the Beetsterzwaag forests that consists of forests, ponds, heathland, and rugged grassland. A three-kilometer ’poetry route’ runs through this area: a walk along fifteen panels with poems by different poets, in Frisian, Dutch and Stellingwerfs, the regional language spoken in Southeast Friesland. The poems can also be read with an mp3 player, read by the poet himself. The audio files and texts are on the website of Staatsbosbeheer-MP3 and can be downloaded.

It will be clear: the wide surroundings of Beetsterzwaag are in all respects a very attractive area. Nature, tranquility, landscape beauty, culture, and cultural history, sporting opportunities: this region has a lot to offer. The in itself varied forests are ideal for hiking, horse riding or mountain biking. And for those who want to discover the enormous diversity of the entire region, the bicycle is a great means of transport. Finally, this can also be combined with a boat trip through the area.

Around Bolsward is a beautiful area with a very interesting history. For many, this is Friesland to the fullest: breathtaking views, picturesque, tranquil villages with centuries-old churches on even older mounds, remains of old dikes, former natural sea inlets. The fight against the water is clearly felt and visible here. Incidentally, the sea was not just an enemy. Thanks in part to the sea, Bolsward was able to develop into a rich trading city. And the surrounding area also benefited from this bloom.

Where nowadays cars drive towards Afsluitdijk, ships sailed from Bolsward to the Zuiderzee 1000 years ago. And further: England, Scandinavia, the Baltic, Russia. The city lay on the southern branch of the Marneslenk, a sea arm that invaded the country north of the current Afsluitdijk. The southern and northern Marneslenk both ended up east of Bolsward in the Middelzee, a sea arm that invaded Friesland from the north. As a result, the city was actually on an island that was protected by a ring dike because of its low location. This made it one of the first larger areas to be diked: the so-called ’mother polders’. This is the largest of the four mother polders in Friesland: the polder runs from Hartwerd to Witmarsum and from Burgwerd to the A7.

Even after the Marne and the Middelzee had been silted up for a long time, Bolsward remained a major trading center for a long time. The city also literally had a central position, which is still visible on the map: waterways run from all directions into Bolsward, which used to be the most important connections with Makkum, Workum, IJlst, Sneek, Harlingen and a number of smaller towns in the area.

Therefore, you can also discover this unique area from the water. But you can of course also go by bike. Or walking. We only recommend the car in bad weather.

There will be few children from the northern provinces of the Netherlands who have never been there on a school trip: Appelscha. The name has an almost magical sound for many people from the North. The special appeal is expressed, for example, in the name ’Kobus goes to Appelscha’ (a successful punk band from the 1980s) and the ’Greetings from Appelscha’ program by Omrop Fryslân.

Appelscha and its surroundings have been a tourist attraction since the 1920s. And that is not surprising: the border area between Friesland and Drenthe is of unparalleled beauty here. Arable land, pasture, forest, heath and sand drifts alternate and form the picturesque backdrop for numerous cycling, walking and riding routes. In 2007 the conclusion of a scientific study in which thousands of people put together their favorite landscape and scientists searched the locations for it, was that Appelscha has the most beautiful landscape in the Netherlands.

The area includes one of the largest nature reserves in the Netherlands, the Drents-Friese Wold National Park: more than 6,000 hectares of forest, heathland, drifting sand and brook valley grasslands. The park is intersected by various walking, cycling, mountain biking, riding and driving routes and has a number of specific facilities and attractions for families with children. Lake Canada is suitable for swimming. There is a visitor center in Appelscha and an information center in Diever.

But there is more to enjoy when it comes to nature and landscape. Take Fochteloërveen, for example: one of the last remnants of ’living’ high peat in the Netherlands. The peat layer is still growing in this 2500-hectare area. Due to the lack of buildings and roads in the wider area, there is still real peace and quiet here. These unique circumstances lead to very special and rich flora and fauna. The crane, which places very high demands on its habitat, is perhaps the most striking example of this.

A smaller but just as interesting nature reserve is the Schaopedobbe near Elsloo, a heathland of 98 hectares with peat bogs, sand drift and groups of trees.

The area is also more than worth it from a cultural-historical point of view. The peat mining history can still be clearly seen in the landscape. The peat was excavated systematically from the higher areas. A very regular landscape with perfectly straight ’neighborhoods’ emerged: ditches along which the peat was transported in small boats to the larger canals such as the Opsterlandse Compagnonsvaart and the Hoofdvaart in Drenthe. Both are part of the so-called (large) Turfroute, a 230-kilometer sailing route through Friesland, Drenthe and Overijssel.

It is clear: this area really has everything to offer for an unforgettable stay. Nowhere is the cliché ’something for everyone’ more appropriate than here: nature, tranquility, cultural history, attractions, water sports, cycling, walking, horse riding ...

The region literally offers too much to mention. A final ’highlight’ that should not, however, remain unmentioned is the unique prison village of Veenhuizen, directly north of the Fochteloërveen. The prison museum not only brings the history of the forced labor colony to life but also offers a glimpse of contemporary prison life. It is not for nothing that the Gevagenismuseum was named the "Best historical museum in the Netherlands" in 2007.

"Heart of Friesland," Grou is often called. In a literal sense, there is in any case little to deny: the village is located approximately in the middle of the province. But also in a transferable sense there is a lot to be said for that name: Grou is a symbol of Fryslân as a watersports province. Not for nothing is the village the beautiful backdrop for the opening competition of the annual Skûtsjesilen on Pikmeer and the Wijde Ee. Especially in the months of June, July, and August, Grou is a very busy and vibrant water sports center. But the village has more to offer than just the water, much more.

Before the advent of water recreation, Grou was already a thriving village. The central location and the abundance of water were favorable for trade, shipping, fishing and related activities, such as shipyards, sailmakers and rope makers. There was not only a lot of water around the village but also in the village. Most of it has disappeared, but the "archipelago structure" is still clearly visible. The combination with the often prominent buildings creates an attractive and somewhat sophisticated ambiance.

A unique event is the "Sint Piterfeest", which is celebrated every year on 21 February and is more or less the Grouster variant of the Sinterklaasfeest. The festival is named after the patron saint of fishermen and skippers. The impressive 12th-century church is also dedicated to this Sint Piter. Other attractions are the mineralogical museum and the town hall built in 1942, with the De Trije Grietenijen museum in the basement.

South of Grou is Akkrum, another typical water sports village. A little less crowded than Grou, but also very lively and pleasant. The village forms the link between the Frisian Lakes and the Turfroute, a recreational sailing route through southeastern Fryslân, part of the province of Overijssel and the western part of Drenthe. Just like Grou, Akkrum is also attractive for non-water sports enthusiasts. Due to the alternation of mostly characteristic buildings with beautiful open spaces, it is a distinctly beautiful village. Very special is Coopersburg, built in 1901 as a "home for the less fortunate elderly". It is named after the wealthy founder Folkert Harmens Kuiper, who as a 23-year-old emigrated from Akkrum to America and called himself Cooper there. He had a beautiful mausoleum built for himself and his wife in the associated park. Another point of interest is Welgelegen, built in 1924 as a "home for unmarried ladies and widows". Art lovers can go to ’Atelier Wynske’ and ’Zuup’ in Nes. And do you want something completely different? Participate in the Open Frisian "Slingeraap" Championship (cross the river hanging on a rope), which is held annually in Akkrum.

The Kromme Knilles (Crooked Knilles) is also swinging from left to right, as the river Boarne between Akkrum and the Prinses Margrietkanaal is called. On the other side of that channel lies the village of Jirnsum, an atmospheric watersports village, a bit quieter than Akkrum. Here the Boarne has the meaningful name "Rak van Ongemak" (Rak of Incomfort): the many curves made it difficult to sail. The history of the village is expanded and beautifully articulated and depicted on www.irnsum.nl.

Outside the three water sports villages you will find an oasis of peace. Endless meadows, water, beautiful views, monumental farms and here and there a quiet village. A paradise for cyclists, riders, hikers, and roller-skaters. You can rent bicycles in Grou or Akkrum. A beautiful and well-documented route is "De 8 van Grou", available at the Tourist Office. But of course, you can also discover the area on your own. A must for nature lovers is the area around Goëngahuizen, south of the Pikmeer and the Wijde Ee. Here are the ’Botmar’ and the ’Unlân van Jelsma en Kobbelân’. Three wooden spinning-head mills complete the picture.

Grou may be "the heart of Friesland", the actual center is Eagum, one of the smallest villages in the province. At least, it was once the center of attention. Perhaps. According to tradition, the striking church tower, which has been standing all by itself for several centuries, stands right next to the center of the world.

Curious? Go look and see.

The area to the west and north-west of Heeg is sometimes referred to as the ’Little Lakes area’. Here, surrounded by green meadows, there are fifteen lakes and pools that are connected to each other via wider or narrower channels. This is perhaps the ultimate Frisian landscape: water, meadows, waving reedlands, monumental farms, here and there a windmill, a church tower or a belfry and above all that typical, breathtaking vastness.

The Little Lakes region is a paradise for those who are looking for peace, space, silence, and nature. Large parts are only accessible to small water sports. The area is ideal for canoeing. Multiple routes are available at the tourist information offices in Heeg, Gaastmeer and Oudega. But even if you do not like boating, you can experience the unique character of this region: it is also a wonderful place for walking, cycling or rollerblading. And not only in the summer, but actually in every season. A nice route, for example, runs along the north bank of the Oudegaaster Brekken. The water, the reed collars, and the underlying polders form a beautiful backdrop with the name Muntsebuorsterpolder.

Oudega and Gaastmeer lie directly on the waterfront and are busy, but nevertheless quiet, water sports villages. Idzega and Sandfirden are quiet and idyllically situated hamlets consisting of a few farms and a church. The church of Sandfirden, where cultural activities take place on a regular basis, has its own jetty. The hamlet is located on the north bank of the "Hop en de Ringwiel" also forms a nature reserve.

Every now and then, until 2014, the peace was pleasantly disturbed by the steam train that ran between Sneek and Stavoren until then. Nowadays there are five pools in the area north of the railway line. The three western form combined nature reserve the Blauhúster Puollen. Most of the lakes here were drained from the seventeenth century. An example is the Sensmeer east of Dedgum. Hieslum, nowadays between the meadows, was once surrounded by water.

The meandering Hemdijk protected the already wet land against the water of the Middelzee. Blauwhuis is located on and around this ancient dike. The famous architect P.H. Cuypers built a neo-Gothic cross basilica here at the end of the nineteenth century, which together with the parsonage, the garden, the fencing, and the cemetery form a beautiful ensemble. The tower dominates the landscape to this day. A tad to the southwest lies the picturesque Greonterp, where renowned writer Gerard Reve lived and worked for a number of years. The village has a unique bell tower.

For more liveliness you can go to Heeg, which is a bustling water sports village from May to September. The distinguished buildings and the compact character give the village a certain grandeur and a small-town character. Thanks to its direct location on the Heegermeer and at the crossroads of major waterways, the village has become one of the most important water sports centers in Fryslân. But Heeg also has plenty to offer non-water sports enthusiasts: nice shops, an array of restaurants, and pleasant terraces. Lovers of nautical and maritime art can indulge in the "De Scheepskamer van Heeg" gallery. And in "Houtbouwmuseum De Helling" you get a nice picture of the traditional Frisian wooden ship types and the rich history of the village.

With Gaastmeer and Woudsend, Heeg formed the center of the Dutch eel fishery and trade from the last quarter of the seventeenth century. The eel was shipped to England, among other destinations. Until 1938 there was even a free berth for the Frisian eel barges on the banks of the Thames in London. With the eel trade, the type of ship (Palingaak) also vanished after the Second World War. However, in the summer of 2019, the Palingaak KYII, after much preparation and restoration of the beautiful ship, made the trip to London all over again. Look at www.palingaaklondon.nl for a report of this special trip and the opportunity to sponsor this public initiative.

Since 2009, Houtbouwmuseum De Helling has had a newly built eel barge at its disposal, with which day trips can be made. For those who prefer a sailing trip on a skûtjse, there is the turning ferry Heeg-Woudsend-Balk. You can take your bike on board!

Lovers of cultural history and traditional art can indulge in the beautiful coastal area between Makkum and Hindeloopen. The area is the birthplace of the famous Makkum pottery, the renowned Hindelooper painting, and the less well-known, but also very characteristic Workum pottery. Two of the Frisian Eleven Cities are located here: Workum and Hindeloopen. And anyone who has visited Makkum will agree that there should have been twelve Frisian cities.

But this area has much more to offer: a beautiful wide landscape, picturesque villages, tranquility, space, and varied nature. You can really enjoy cycling, walking, rollerblading or horse riding here. And the IJsselmeer offers limitless opportunities for sailing, sailing, (kite) surfing, water skiing, swimming or fishing.

Makkum was originally a fishing village, where some industrial activity later arose: shipyards, sawmills, brick factories, and lime kilns. In recent decades it has become a busy and bustling village that mainly lives off tourism. Part of the Makkumerwaard, a reclaimed part of the IJsselmeer, has been transformed into a recreational area with a campsite, a holiday park, a sandy beach, a marina and a boulevard with shops. To the north and south of it are the Makkumerwaarden, an attractive nature reserve.

The old village has retained its authentic and attractive character. Makkum has an urban appearance because of continuous facades, which mainly consists of distinguished houses, townhouses, and former warehouses. At the Turfmarkt, two eighteenth-century buildings with a modern extension contain the world-famous pottery company Koninklijke Tichelaar, where you can get a tour (by appointment). Art lovers can also visit Galerie Käller, Atelier In Beeld or Aart Cornelissen’s studio. Would you rather go shopping? Makkum has an array of authentic shops and boutiques and in between and afterward there are several cozy terraces, cafes, and restaurants to discuss the shopping results.

The area of ​​the Aldfaers Erf Route lies between Makkum and Workum. This route, which is over 20 kilometers long, connects a number of picturesque villages, runs through vast meadows, along the IJsselmeer dike and combines cultural history, landscape, and nature. The Makkumer Súdmar, a peat polder that was drained at the end of the nineteenth century, lies between the museum village of Allingawier and Idsegahuizum. South of Piaam the route runs directly behind the dike and along the Dyksfearten. Gaast, it’s already in the name, is a bit higher on a sandy mound. The lovely, beautiful location directly behind the dike in no way suggests that rough people used to live here: poachers, hunters, sailors, and whalers. Here you have a truly breathtaking view of the IJsselmeer, the Makkumerwaarden and the Workumerwaard from the dike.

The Workumerwaard was diked after the closure of the Zuiderzee (1932). From the road over the old Zuiderzeedijk (dike), you have a beautiful view of the old and new land. Southwest of Workum is Workumer Nieuwland, which was reclaimed more than 300 years earlier. The road from Workum to Hindeloopen is also located here on the original Zuiderzeedijk.

Workum and Hindeloopen themselves hardly need any introduction. For a description of the atmosphere and character: click on one of the two links. Workum naturally owes its fame to the Jopie Huisman Museum. But Museum Warkums Erfskip is also worth a visit. Furthermore, this pleasant town has a considerable number of galleries, studios, and potteries. You can find them on site www.workum.nl, which we heartily recommend if you want to know more about Workum.

Hindeloopen is famous for its characteristic painting style. You can see examples of this in various shops and studios and in the Hidde Nijland Museum. In the picturesque town, you will also find the unique "Eerste Friese Schaatsmuseum" (First Frisian Ice Skating Museum). Is the weather suitable for a visit to the beach? You will find that on the south side of the town. Then be aware of the fact that you are part of a long tradition, for the special bathing pavilion, built-in 1913, bears witness to the long history of Hindeloopen as a seaside resort.

For most, the Afsluitdijk is no more and no less than a convenient, fast connection between Friesland and North Holland. Only a few realize that the dike, constructed between 1927 and 1932, is one of the world’s largest water management projects ever. The realization of a 30-kilometer dam to close off an inland sea was an unprecedented achievement, certainly at that time.

The Afsluitdijk is not only a connection between destinations; the dike itself is also an attractive destination. Here you will experience the superlative of the concept of grandeur. When the weather is nice, the view of the Wadden Sea and the IJsselmeer is breathtaking. And in bad weather, you are really one with the elements here.

Kornwerderzand is, just like Breezanddijk, a former work island. The German advance was held back here in May 1940 for a long time. The so-called ’casemates’ (bunkers) still exist and today form an interesting Casemate Museum. There is also a large lock complex here. The complex is a national monument and is named after Hendrik Lorentz, who received the Nobel Prize for physics in 1902 and played an important role in the construction of the Afsluitdijk.

The area around the connection of the Afsluitdijk to the mainland is also worthwhile. Cornwerd, the birthplace of the poet Obe Postma, is a protected townscape and in Wons is a very rare "central building church". Zurich is better known for its hotel-café-restaurant, named after the nearby monument "De Steenen Man", where many dyke workers sought entertainment and where it allegedly could go wild.


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Nieuwe encyclopedie van Fryslân voor slechts € 29,90 incl. verzenden!

Bijna 8 kilogram aan kennis over Friesland! Wees er snel bij want op is op.

De Nieuwe Encyclopedie van Fryslân is een onmisbare aanvulling in de boekenkast voor iedereen die gek is van Fryslân en meer wil weten van deze provincie. Op 15 september 2016 verscheen de vierdelige encyclopedie die rond de 3000 pagina’s telt, 11.000 trefwoorden bevat en ruim 8 kilo weegt. De encyclopedie staat bomvol actuele kennis over Fryslân en is een echte pageturner geworden.

Voor al diegenen die dit standaardwerk over Fryslân altijd al hadden willen hebben! Nu voor een wel heel speciaal prijsje! Maar let op! Op = Op!