where we cruise (all about the area)
After the Vikings, the Dutch were amongst the first to take to the water, and their Golden Age, from 1600 and into the 1700s saw an explosion of water-born trade – mainly because there was so much water in the country, and so few passable roads for heavy cargo.
Once on the water, they became sea going explorers, bringing back a wealth of culture and cuisine, while back home they turned their hand to fishing. Before the Markermeer was cordoned off by the Houtribdijk, and the Ijsselmeer by the Afsluitdijk, the North Sea came right up to the doorsteps of Amsterdam, and the Amstel river flowed north into it.
As a result, the perimeter of these now-freshwater inland seas was once dotted with quaint traditional fishing villages, and the one-time islands of Urk, Naarden, Muiden etc. were hubs of international trade.
Today, the sea is calm, the saltwater gone, but these lovely cameo corners of old Holland are now open for visitors: Edam, Volendam, Enkhuizen, Harlingen, Huizen, Muiden all beckon. Further north is Friesland and the antique cities of Zwolle, Kampen and Leeuwaarden
To the south, the Amstel was canalised and connects to Rotterdam via Utrecht to the east and, to the west, across the Groene Hart (Green Heartland) via Leiden and Delft. Once south of Amsterdam, the culture spreads down towards s’Hertogenbosch and on to Maastricht, with Belgium and France an easy cruise away.
This link tells the history as a timeline, through the art of the Rijksmuseum.
There is far more to the Netherlands than only Cheese & Tulips
Discover the hidden history and slow tranquil beauty of her quaint old towns, top class restaurants, and the canals between …