We took a quick tour of the Friesland area on a beautiful Saturday late in the summer. Friesland is composed of many small towns in the northwest of the Netherlands. It is very agricultural and famous for the speed skating competition that used to be held every winter on the canals, the Elfstedentocht. Parts of Friesland are located on the Wadden Sea and on the way there, we passed by one of the wind farms in the sea.
We began our day on the Aldfaers Erf Route (the path through all of the small towns) with the town of Piaam. It was so tiny that the most interesting part was the small church with graveyard.
Driving between the towns we saw many open marsh fields with some interesting birds-a lapwing and a long billed dowitcher.
The second town was Ferwoude. Aside from some stands selling pumpkins and a large pen filled with goats next to one of the homes, the church and graveyard was once again the highlight.
Next, we made our way to Hindelopen. They had a large Reformist Church here and a huge number of sailboats on the sea as well as a beautiful view of more wind farming.
Next up was Workum. This was a larger town with tons of bridges crossing over river outlets and a couple of large churches. We stopped in a bakery here and bought some anise (licorice flavor) bread and a few pastries. While the children didn’t like the bread, surprisingly, I thought it was pretty good.
After this, we headed back to the small towns of Allingastate and Exmorra. Nothing too exciting were found in these towns, but when we made our way into Bolsward, we saw some very cool things. First of all was this church from the 13th century. The roof is now gone and replaced with glass, and the space is used as an event venue. It was quite pretty.
But the fun and interesting thing in front of the historic site was the statue of a bat that poured water from it’s mouth. (In Workum we saw lions shooting water from their paws and in Hindelopen water was spraying from some huge antler statue).
The old town hall was also interesting as was the street in front of it lying along the canal with restaurants, shops and some pretty bridges.
After Bolsward, we made our way to Sneek. It was really a nice city with an interesting old city gate overlooking the river.
After walking around the city for a bit, we made our way to the church of Wiuwert where there are some mummies from the 15th and 16th centuries in the crypt (as well as a mummified cat and some birds). The interesting thing about the mummies is that they were not purposely preserved, but rather it happened naturally- they believe from the conditions of the airflow in the crypt. No pictures were allowed of the mummies, but you could really see their facial features (one died of a tooth abscess and you could see the pain on the face). It was quite interesting. The church itself was from the 13th century and was also well maintained.
Our final stop was a quick one for lunch in Leeuwarden. It was probably the biggest city of all of them. We didn’t get to see much of it, but there were some really lovely views of the river and canals.
All in all, Friesland was a nice day excursion. There were many museums in the area and with more time, we might want to check a few of them out, but for now, we enjoyed the views and landmarks in the area as well as the fabulous weather.