One sunny day in March, I decided to take my bike and go to Weesp (particularly because of the windmills of Weesp). It is a small city near Amsterdam on the river Vecht and the location makes it a convenient escape from the hustle and bustle of the capital. The ride took no more than 40 minutes, which included several short stops to admire the endless Dutch green fields.
The windmills of Weesp
So, what to see in Weesp, you ask? Well, I chose Weesp for its three windmills. The first windmill I visited was ‘t Haatje (the rooster), located on the river Smal Weest near the center of the town and it is the smallest of the three. Built in 1820, it ground flour for the last time in 1943 and has been restored several times. A small quiet road runs past it and the area is great for jogging or a stroll.
Nearby is the town’s historic center. With the city being more than 650 years old, it is not surprising that some of the buildings are from the 17th and 18th centuries. Unlike the frantic Amsterdam, Weesp is a much more peaceful place and the people are not in a hurry all the time. Most buildings are cute little two-story old-timey houses and shops. The rivers and canals on which Weesp is built give it almost a miniature Amsterdam kind of feel. In some places, the old streets are so narrow that you can touch both sides if you stretch out your arms.
Of the many churches in Weesp, the Church Grote of Sint-Laurenskerk was my favorite. It was built between 1429 and 1462 in the typical Gothic style. The church features two large halls – Kerkzaal, which can house 600 people, and Koor, for 250 people. While not as exquisitely decorated as some other churches, it still has a great atmosphere and the imposing size of the main hall makes you feel small.
Another of Weesp’s landmarks is the Stadhuid – the Old Town Hall. It was built in 1776 and converted to a museum in 1974. Surprisingly, the decision to make it a museum was taken after a baron’s collection of porcelain was donated to the museum and the town decides to house it in the old hall. The collection is from the 18th century and is a major part of the exhibition. The museum also includes photos and information about Magneet Rijwielfabriek, the first bicycle factory in the Netherlands, and on the Van Houten chocolate factory.
Weesp also features several old forts that were part of a defense line to protect Amsterdam. One is Fort Ossenmarkt. Built in 1861, it is located on a small island near the center of town and, curiously, was used as a mushroom farm after World war II. It was also used to train firefighters. Nowadays, it is completely restored and hosts different events. The island also offers a nice view towards the rest of Weesp.
Another fort is Uitermeer. It is 4km outside of Weesp and was built in 1845 on the eastern bank of the River Vecht. It was originally meant to protect the local rail line, but after the Second World War it was filled with explosives and, sadly, destroyed almost completely.
But back to the windmills of Weesp. The other two are right next to each other also on the River Vecht. One is called Eendragt (Unity) and was built in 1691 and the other is Vriendschap (Friendship) from 1900. Unfortunately, Unity is obscured by a hedge and trees but you can get a good look at Friendship. Both mills are still used to grind flour and Vriendschap even houses a small shop that sells all kinds of flour and flour mixes, nuts, and spices. It is open on Saturdays between 10:00 and 16:00. The windmills are actually across the road from a row of normal houses and I suspect it must be quite cool to see their enormous blades turn gently in the wind while you are sipping your coffee in the morning.
Overall, I am glad I chose to visit the small and charming Weesp. So glad in fact that I visited It again some time later. It was definitely nice to take a respite from the chaotic Amsterdam. But I am most pleased that I made the trip using my fabulous and exquisite tricycle.
Do you like small towns? What do you think about my lovely tricycle?