Thursday, July 25, 2013

Cycling and Sailing Holiday in The Netherlands: Island Hopping Day 6

The ship took us back to the mainland, where you disembark at Enkhuizen, a town which came into existence when two adjoining villages amalgamated. It was given a municipal charter in 1355. In the Golden Age Enkhuizen had grown so much that its harbour was well-known internationally and the beautiful gables, town hall and richly decorated churches all date from these flourishing times. Here too, you can easily find many Renaissance and Baroque monuments. At the end of the 17th century the decline set in, as a result of the wars with England and the growing importance of Amsterdam as a sea trading city. When the Zuiderzee was closed off in 1932 (by the Afsluitdijk) the herring fishing industry also came to an end. The construction of a railway line to Amsterdam, at the end of the 19th century, caused a slight revival for this little town.
We continued on the dike with a wonderful view over the Markermeer on your left and West-Frisian villages on your right-hand side. The recently built dike from Enkhuizen to Lelystad (in the Noordoostpolder) appears on the horizon. This was meant to be a polder dike for a huge new polder: the Markerwaard. However, the plans were never executed: with time perception changed. The environment and fresh water supply became more important. So today the dike is there, but no polder...
The route further took us along the dike in a southerly direction towards the city of Hoorn, where we will spend the night. The attractive city of Hoorn was given a municipal charter in 1357. In addition to Amsterdam, Edam, Monnickendam, Enkhuizen and Medemblik Hoorn was a major harbour in the 17th century. From here ships sailed for the Dutch East Indies (now Indonesia), America, Scandinavia and the Mediterranean. The most impressive gable is the one on the former town hall, Statenpoort, which now houses an interesting museum with paintings and exhibits concerning the V.O.C. (United East Indian Company). The V.O.C. was a very powerful, almost monopolistic trading company in the 17th century.

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