Culture & Travel26 July 2023
For some folks, it's known as the land of water, while others see it as a symbol of freedom and tulips, and to others, it's all about bicycles. However, most people refer to it as the "water country" and often wonder when it might sink. You guessed it right - we're talking about the Netherlands! Now, let's clear up some confusion about the names. The official name of the country is the Netherlands, which, as you might have guessed, means "low country." On the other hand, "Holland" is a term used for a specific region within the Netherlands, consisting of North Holland and South Holland provinces. This region includes some significant cities like Amsterdam, Alkmaar, The Hague, and Rotterdam. So, let's explore this beautiful country together without getting lost in the details. Enjoy your reading!
Water Country Overview
The Romans were the first folks to roam, give names, and acquaint themselves with this region. One of the earliest renowned visitors in this area was Julius Caesar and his triumphant legions. In the Middle Ages, it played a crucial role for the Kingdom of the Franks, the Holy Roman Germanic Empire, and the Duchy of Burgundy. By 1568, the Netherlands, which had been inherited by the Kingdom of Spain, rebelled against the Spanish Catholics as Protestantism spread. The resulting Eighty Years War and the Treaty of Westphalia laid the foundation for today's Netherlands. During the Napoleonic era, the Netherlands were occupied but later became an independent kingdom, alongside today's Belgium, thanks to the Congress of Vienna, which was signed after Napoleon's defeat. In 1830, Luxembourg also seceded along with Belgium.
Undoubtedly, the Netherlands experienced its golden age in the 17th and 18th centuries. During this period, it became one of the most developed countries globally in terms of science, trade, and art. It was the homeland of painters like Rembrandt and Rubens and witnessed numerous scientific and geographical discoveries. Dutch explorers found Australia, New Zealand, and most of the other islands in Oceania. They were the first to colonize New York and South Africa and possessed territories in Indonesia, Guyana, and countless other Pacific islands. Presently, Guyana and the Netherlands Antilles remain part of the Kingdom of the Netherlands.
In this flat and slope-free land, biking has become an integral part of life in this small country. Getting lost in the enchanting journey of bicycles gracefully gliding with the wind along the banks of azure canals, amidst vibrant flower fields, and over historic cobblestone streets feels like stepping into a real-life fairy tale. Whether you're meandering through the charming streets of romantic Amsterdam or exploring the quaint stone houses of traditional villages, you'll undoubtedly experience the magical allure of cycling, which seems to transcend time itself. Here, hills are non-existent, and cyclists are highly respected, making Dutch cycling culture a harmonious blend of freedom, tranquility, and nature. It's no wonder that this captivating culture attracts visitors from all around the globe.
Prestigious Canal City
You've reached one of Western Europe's largest port cities, adorned with intricate canals, a place where intrepid sailors once set sail to discover Australia, Oceania, established colonies, and engaged in trade with America and other far-flung continents. It wouldn't be an exaggeration to call this the city of freedom. Unveiling the mysterious secrets of time while surrounded by iconic windmills here is akin to stepping into the pages of a mesmerizing fairy tale. Wandering along the romantic canals of the city is undoubtedly a must-do in Amsterdam. Yet, the mystical ambiance also transports you to Van Gogh's star-filled world as you follow in the footsteps of Rembrandt's artistry. Becoming immersed in this enchanting country, where every corner is a work of art, is undeniably one of life's most beautiful experiences.
Let's take a break from the bustling city life and escape to some fairytale villages that will leave you in awe. Thousands of vibrant tulips, daffodils, hyacinths, and various other flowers create stunning patterns, resembling a picturesque painting in these magical gardens. Once you step foot in this mesmerizing place, you'll never want to leave, as it showcases nature's finest craftsmanship. Keukenhof, in particular, feels like an exquisite art gallery created by Mother Nature herself. Head up north to Zaanse Schans, located in the Netherlands, where historic windmills and traditional wooden houses welcome you with open arms. Another wonder of this ornate land is Giethoorn, just north of Amsterdam, with its wooden bridges gracefully dancing over water canals and gardens filled with beautiful flowers. The charming atmosphere by the sea in Volendam will undoubtedly steal your heart. Truly, exploring the extraordinary world of the Netherlands would be incomplete without visiting its charming villages.
A Rich Art Heritage
In this region where great treasures of world art were born—Van Gogh, Rembrandt, Rubens, and many more—the mills cannot turn without the wind of art. Particularly in Amsterdam, where the presence of art permeates every corner, the charm of artistic expression is undeniable. The Rijksmuseum in Amsterdam allows you to lose track of time as you immerse yourself in the world of Rembrandt's masterpieces, delving into the depths of history. At the Van Gogh Museum, prepare to be transported into a dreamy world where colors and emotions dance, taking your mind to the stars. The Anne Frank House opens a door to a powerful story that leaves a lasting impact on historical memory and touches the hearts of all humanity. The Mauritshuis in The Hague invites you to step into a mysterious world of magnificent paintings, while the Kröller-Müller Museum in Utrecht brings forth a mystical feeling as it displays Van Gogh's unique works amidst the embrace of nature. The Porceleyne Fles in Delft exudes the elegance of porcelain, and Rotterdam's Maritiem Museum offers an exhilarating adventure into the endless exploration of the seas. Everywhere you turn in this place, art is an integral part of the experience, and escaping its influence is simply impossible.