Alkmaar is situated in the province North Holland. Alkmaar is a quiet, dreamy little town 30 Km north of Amsterdam and happens to be my town of birth, where I grew up. My car will take you there and seats 3 to 4 adults. In 16th century history Alkmaar was the first Dutch town to successfully fight off the Spanish troops. These troops intended to restore order and to quell the Protestant revolutionaries, and thus Alkmaar stood at the cradle of national Dutch statehood and indepencence. One claims that "Victory begun in Alkmaar".
Alkmaars main pride (and its "claim to fame") ate key developments of the art of engineering. Just outside Alkmaar the very first polder was constructed and a set of strong industrial windmills and other engineering projects. I will be happy to tell you about that during this trip! The beauty of the city center is the result of small-scale organic growth. It boasts a wonderfully preserved group of canals and a great number of ancient canal houses and monuments. In the center we find the Cheese market square, and a quaint Friday morning spectacle in springtime and summertime. Teams in white overall suits and colored hats vie with each other in moving big trays of cheese across the market square.
The Alkmaar history and art museum is worth a short visit as it owns the largest Saenredam painting in the world, showing a church interor in the world and also a small but fine mannerist painting by Cornelis Cornelisz. Buijs. The museum is situated just off the massive late mediaeval Great Church of St. Lawrence (Laurentius) which may or may not be open to the public. One of the highlights of this Alkmaar trip is the strange story about how the 1566 religious iconoclasm in Alkmaar unfolded.
The former ramparts have been turned into a park landscape with an ice house and a windmill. A boat ride may be part of a pleasurable day out. Watch out for involuntary decapitation - you may lose your head and life when passing under many of the very low bridges! On the way we may visit other groups of windmills near Alkmaar. Some mills function as water pumps, other were designed for milling grain. We can also drive by Volendam, Marken and Edam, internationally famous as harbor and cheese towns.
In Alkmaar the competing teams of cheese carriers hoist platforms full of flat cheeses each weiging between 11 and 14 kilos. Here the blue team gathers speed and they will stop for no-one, crying out "Ho!" and making other grunting noises. Each team is identified by their colored hats binding their animal nature - but their male energies are strictly controlled by market masters and other officials. Breaking the rules will cost them a fine. Alkmaar cheese market volume of turnover of cheeses used to be VERY large in former centuries. Way back then, the cheese market lasted for four days a week and lingered on well into the late late hours up to midnight.
- Groups of 1-4 people: 60 EUR per hour
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