The village of Zaanse Schans is just a short trip from Amsterdam. The driving time is about half hour. It is famous for its collection of historic windmills. From paint mill to oil mills many of them are not just heritages, but still fully-operating wooden machines. You can visit windmills and see it yourself how they are used for making spices, sawing wood, grinding oil and much more.
Mill used to grind colour
It is free to stroll around all the houses and mills. If you pay a small entrance fee, you can enter these mills or production places to examine how those windmills work. The first one we entered is the mill to grind colour. All moving parts in the lower floor of the buildings make up an imposing scene in which pigments are milled. Climbing up to the deck of the mill via the narrow stairs, we enjoyed a beautiful panorama view of the home industry in the area. It is quite impressive!
The timber mill
The next mill we visited is Het Jonge Schaap. This is a very special timber mill at Zaanse Schans, a six-sided wood saw mill. This shape was unique among the hundreds saw mills that stood in the area. The mill was built and active in 1680 in the Westzijderveld in Zaandam. In 1942 it was demolished. In 2007 the rebuilding process took place at Zaanse Schans. From then on Het Jonge Schaap was back in use as a saw mill. The sale of wood is the main source of income for the mill. It could be very busy in the mill if the wind allows. The windmill can be turned to catch the most wind depending on the direction it is blowing.
We had a look during the miller’s work day and experienced how a wood saw mill operates. Some French wood mill fans were busy filming the process. According to the conversation they would like to build a similar one in their home town.
Next to the entrance on the ground floor there is a small room where you can watch the movie about the rebuilding of the mill. The whole visit took us more than an hour, but it is interesting to learn that the traditional industry used to be so powerful during the pre-industrial world.
Alternatively you can taking a cruise trip to see those mills. You can also combined the trip with a visit to Giethoorn. There some shops selling Dutch food and souvenirs.