In the 17th and 18th centuries there was great economic prosperity. There was no region in Europe where so many different industries could be found on such a small area. Weaving mills, starch factories, tarpaulin factories, paper, tobacco, paint, candles, snuff, bluing, cocoa, cooper, blacksmiths, teardrops, sawmills, shipbuilding, shipping, trade and animal husbandry, everything was to be found on the banks of the Zaan. Whaling was also important, almost every village in the Zaan region participated. In the year 1697, 78 Greenland sailors with the flag in top came to sail on the Zaan at the same time on their homeward journey. They brought in nearly 40,000 barrels of blubber.
With the arrival of the steam engine, most of the mills disappeared from the landscape. Partly thanks to the Zaansche Molen association, founded in 1925, some 15 industrial windmills have been preserved in the region. The region is also known for its many wooden houses, usually painted in typical green and white. Many examples of this are still available. You will get a good impression of the traditional Zaan architectural style at Zaanse Schans.
Credits: © René van der Meer