General information

Start and finish of the Beemster Bustour is restaurant Eterij ‘t Middenpunt on the Market Square in the village of Middenbeemster. The Beemster Bustour is a hop on hop off tour: you can get on and get off anywhere during the trip. This round trip takes about an hour and during the season (from early May to mid-September) it is available every Wednesday between eleven am and four o’clock pm. You can book through info@beemsterbustours.nl. On other days, a group arrangement is possible. For more information: +31 6 55 183 856.

1. Restaurant “Eterij ’t Middenpunt”

smederijCharacteristic place for dining and wining at the Market Square of the central village. The restaurant is not only attractively decorated, but has also an extensive menu for breakfast, lunch and dinner. From the traditional Dutch bouncer to a delicious steak meal served with crisp lettuce and Beemster fries … it’s always mouth-watering delight at the “Eterij ‘t Middelpunt”! The establishment outstands further by frequently opting for local products. The friendly and knowledgeable service does the rest. Or not quite: this point of the Beemster Bustour is both in both good and bad weather the proverbial center, as you can also sit outside on the large terrace.

2. The Old Forge
smederijThe small building of the forge was constructed in 1676 on the Market Square of the village Middenbeemster. The “travaille” dates from 1744. Here the horses were shod. On the average the horses needed new shoes every six weeks, but in practice the forge was a constant coming and going of people warming themselves by the fire. Today the forge is open one day a week and by appointment.
3. Museum Betje Wolff ( a Dutch writer)

betje_wolff_2The museum “Betje Wolff” is since 1950 located in the former parsonage of the Dutch Reformed Church in Middenbeemster. The museum offers a great variety of rooms typical for the various eras and brings to live three centuries of domestic culture in the Beemster polder and its surroundings. The name of the museum is derived from the well-known 18th century novelist Elizabeth Wolff, born Bekker, who during her marriage to the reverend Adrianus Wolff (1759-1777) has lived in the parsonage. In 1777, after the death of her husband, Betje Wolff moved out and started to live with Aagje Deken and together the two women began to publish. Their greatest successes were the epistolary novels “The history of Miss Sara Burgerhart” (1782) and “The History of Mr. Willem Leevend” (1784-1785). In 1789 “Walks through Burgundy” came out. Between 1793 and 1796 they were writing on “ The History of Miss Cornelia Wildschut” and “The effects of the education”, a novel of six volumes.

4. Agricultural museum Westerhem, a natural gas source
agrarisch_museumThe Beemster has been created by human hands, which becomes strikingly clear in this museum. You’ll find all kinds of tools and even vehicles that were needed for the work on the land. In addition, next to the museum there is an extraordinary technical discovery dating back to the end of the nineteenth century. Or rather: then it became common in the Beemster, and enabled the generation of light. The World Heritage site was being illuminated whereas the rest of North Holland remained in the dark …until electricity conquered the rest of the Netherlands at a high speed during the second decade of the twentieth century. The fact that the Beemster was a beacon of light overnight in an otherwise dark Holland , was also caused by the fact that the inventor of the source gas installation was also a man from the Beemster: in 1875 agricultural innovator Wouter Sluis did the first successful test with it.
5. Cheese farm Peter and Linda Groot

familie_groot_2The Beemster is inextricably linked to cheese and vice versa. In this respect, agricultural innovator Wouter Sluis (as with the source gas) played an important role, because he developed a way to control the temperature of the milk better. The cheese farm of Peter and Linda Groot is an example of how new perspectives and traditions can reinforce each other. Modern milking robots, but a traditional maturation process … you have to actually see it with your own eyes.

6. Farm De Eenhoorn (The Unicorn): the oldest traditional farm house in the Beemster (1682)
de_eenhoornFarm “De Eenhoorn” dates from 1682, i.e sixty years after the Beemster was drained. The tapered shape is characteristic for the whole Waterland region in general and for the Beemster in particular. In the polder the architectural finding, of which the wooden square inside is the greatest eye catcher, has been most commonly used. The building consists of a partly wooden, partly brick, bell jar shaped farm with a wooden farming extension at the rear with overlapping slats. The striking combination of agricultural functionality and the dignity of the rich Amsterdam merchant houses (the facade composition is derived from the architecture of the seventeenth-century Amsterdam architect Vingboons), causes this farm to be an interesting monument.
7. Oldest fruit varieties

The so-called POMological association houses the oldest fruit trees varieties of North Holland. Making a neglected aspect of the Beemster to emerge: many people know the polder because of its unique geographical straight lines, its cows and its cheese, but in and around Zuidoostbeemster the World Heritage site distinguishes itself by the cultivation of fruit, and especially those of apples and pears. At the POMological association grow the even oldest fruit trees varieties of North Holland.

8. Fort Resort Beemster
A wellness experience that you won’t find anywhere else. It is located behind the walls of the Fort on the Nekkerweg. This fort is part of the “Stelling van (Fortification of) Amsterdam” and has been given a new unique destination: Warm and cold water baths, various saunas, a beautiful spa, an hotel and a highly recommended restaurant: relaxing is written here with a capital R.

fort_resort_beemster_3  fort_resort_beemster_2fort_resort_beemster

9. Beemster Arboretum
arboretum_2The figures are impressive, especially when you take into account that everything has been collected by a private couple. The Beemster Arboretum has the third largest collection of trees and shrubs in the Netherlands. The number of species and varieties of the collection amounts to 2,600 and the total number of trees and shrubs is around 6,000. The total area of the arboretum is 7.5 acres.

 

The Beemster Arboretum has four objectives:arboretum

  • To show to the public how known and unknown species and varieties of trees and shrubs grow and what they look like after having grown older;
  • The preservation for posterity of trees and shrubs which are threatened with extinction in the area from which they originate;
  • The growing of trees and shrubs that have not yet been introduced in the Netherlands, but may be of interest for use in Dutch green (as our arboretum contains copies of some walnut and pine trees that still do not exist in any other Dutch collection);
  • The collection and distribution of seeds, cuttings and grafting material for tree cultivation.
10. The “Dood” (Death)
de_doodFortunately, this collection point is not referring to people, but to cattle. Which here, at a high and discernable point, used to be collected and then from here was transported to the slaughter house in Amsterdam. After all, the canal around the Beemster, the canal of North Holland and Knollendammer canal are merging here.
11. View of the polder and the circular canal around the Beemster

The beauty of this landscape is like a painting and can best be illustrated by referring to a famous poem by the Dutch poet Hendrik Marsman, “Herinnering aan Holland” ( Memory of Holland). Although the Beemster does not feature wide rivers, there is the iconic canal of North Holland and other water ways that make it a typical Dutch landscape.

Memory of Holland

Thinking of Holland
I see wide-flowing rivers
slowly traversing
infinite plains,
inconceivably
rarefied poplars
like lofty plumes
on the skyline in lanes;
and submerged in the vastness
of unbounded spaces
the farmhouses
strewn over the land,
tree clumps, villages,
truncated towers,
churches and elm trees –
all wondrously planned.
The sky hangs low
and slowly the sun by
mists of all colours
is stifled and greyed
and in all the regions
the voice of the water
with its endless disasters
is feared and obeyed.

Translation: © Paul Vincent, 2006

12. Fort at Spijkerboor
fort_spijkerboorThis is one of the best known forts of the Defense Line of Amsterdam. This defense line has been constructed around Amsterdam between 1880 and 1920 at distances of ten till twelve miles. The Defense Line, 85 miles long, is a special defense ring of 46 forts and batteries and a great number of dikes and sluices. As from 1996, the Defense Line of Amsterdam is on the World Heritage List of Unesco, as is the Beemster. The fort at Spijkerboor still has an authentic armored turn dome artillery. Also the ammunition chambers and the cannons can be viewed. Today, the fort is also used for various cultural activities. Besides that “Natuurmonumenten”, the Dutch Natural Preservation Body, organizes guided tours, because in the fort live many special organisms.
fort_spijkerboor_2The Defense Line of Amsterdam, the construction of which was decided in the vestingwet (Defense Line Law) of 1874, is a so-called waterline. This means that in case of a war certain areas around Amsterdam would be put under water, so the enemy could not advance. Therefore, sites near embankments, roads or railways were chosen for the locations of the forts. Because, if there would not be barriers, or if the water would be too deep, the enemy would be able to use boats and still might reach the capital. Furthermore, it would be possible to put the enemy under fire for instance from dikes. In the military jargon dikes and roads for this purpose were known as access points.
fort_spijkerboor_3Besides, it was not the intention to inundate the Beemster. On the contrary, the forts were meant to protect it. The fertile soil and the cattle should provide Amsterdam with the required food. The area around the girdle of forts was a salvation route. In case of an advancing enemy the ground forces could retreat inside it and resist with the aid of the existing civil population until help from abroad would liberate the Netherlands. In case of a hostile siege there should be sufficient food, water, fuel and military equipment inside the Defense Line to last for six months.

13. The exceptional gardens of Ria van Eijndhoven
ria_van_eijnhoven ria_van_eijnhoven_2Grand and compelling. In short, a delight to the eye. Roses, grapes, hedges à la Versailles and much more: let your eyes enjoy the splendid views over the gardens Ria van Eijndhoven for a genuine wow moment. In nearly twenty years she has collected and cultivated the most beautiful plants to be found in the Netherlands!
14. The weighbridge of the Beemster
weegbrugThis weighbridge, dating from 1952, is situated in the middle of the Beemster scenery and was formerly used for weighing the sugar beets before they went to the factory. In 2014, the weighbridge has been completely restored.
15. CONO Kaasmakers (Beemster cheese)
cono-homeCONO Kaasmakers is the place where the world famous Beemster cheese is produced. The cooperation was founded in 1901 and gradually grew into a major player on the market. In June 2001 Her Majesty the Queen granted CONO cheese makers the right to carry the designation ‘Purveyor of the Royal Court’. This is an honor that is only bestowed to companies that are at least 100 years old and have an exceptional track record.

About the growth of CONO cheesemakers: In 1947 three North Holland cheese factories decided to work together. Those were “Concordia” from Oudendijk, “Ons Belang” from Middelie and “De Tijd” from Beemster. Afterwards several more factories and corporations joined. Of all these factories and partnerships CONO cheesemakers is the only remaining player of size, at least in North Holland. The links forged between these corporations have resulted in a five hundred farmers now providing milk to the factory in Westbeemster every day. Meanwhile, the company is now spreading its wings internationally. Not only does it pan out several major awards with its cheeses, it also penetrates in ever more new markets such as the Chinese one. To meet the rising demand it opened a new plant in 2014 next to the existing factory “de Tijd”. Both the new whey tower and the new cheese factory, both designed by Bastiaan Jongerius Architects, have won architectural awards.

16. View of the reclaimed land of the Beemster polder
uitzicht_beemsterWith an emphasis on reclaimed land, because from this point you have a view of the two pumping stations that keep the Beemster dry. And that brings back memories. The Beemster lake was drained in 1612 using forty-three polder mills. Subsequently, there were fifty mills needed to drain the polder. The entire project was led by Jan Adriaenszoon Leeghwater, who was well-known in Holland and during his life did reclaim several lakes in Holland and abroad. Leeghwater was the son of a carpenter from De Rijp in North Holland. He was a carpenter, mill builder, engineer, architect and artist.
For himself he built an octagonal oil mill in Graft and is seen as inventor of the so-called “bovenkruier”: a windmill of which the construction to put the blades on the wind is situated in the top of the windmill cap.
His bust now stands for many years in front of the monumental building of the Heerenhuis in Middenbeemster.
Opposite the geometrical lotted out new land you see on the other side of the canal the ancient moorland of the Eilandspolder (Schermer Eylant).

17. Windmill De Nachtegaal
korenmolenThe Beemster stands for persistence, as it took five years to grind the polder dry. However, De Nachtegaal did not have a part in this: it is a flour mill and not a polder one. It probably dates from the seventeenth century and has subsequently been restored several times. Nevertheless, the locals have had to fight hard to keep the mill spinning.
In 1970 using the mill for grain grinding stopped and in 1973 it was restored, but then the mill seemed to fall into oblivion. Therefore, decline occurred. Attempts to rescue this iconic Beemster monument seemed doomed to fail because of disputes about who now owned it and had to become owner and whether the mill could remain to be located on private land. Eventually, like in the struggle against water, people joined forces. The mill was moved in 2011 and restored and reopened in 2013. In 2014, next to the mill, a historic mill barn was opened. The Foundation for the Preservation of De Nachtegaal, which is the owner of the mill since 2011, wants to rent out this mill barn in the future in order to raise funds for maintenance and future restoration.

18. The Uitentuis family and the Messeklever cheese
uitentuisWho wants to see how in North Holland cattle are kept and bred, makes the right decision to pay a visit the Uitentuis family. In addition, the famous North Holland Messeklever cheese is produced here. This cheese is handcrafted with a capital H. It was launched in the nineteenth century and symbolizes the hard rural life of that era. The Messeklever got almost forgotten in the twentieth century until Jan Uitentuis reinvented the cheese after having studied old books and doing his own investigation. A remarkable result, since the present cows and their milk are not comparable to their predecessors of the nineteenth century. The Messeklever distinguishes itself by adding to the basic cheese elements only starter and rennet and a pinch of salt for preservation.