The Circle of towns and villages around the Zuiderzee,
linked by a Golden History

The name of the old Zuiderzee has ceased to exist for many years. The fame of this enormous treasure trove around the presently called IJsselmeer is still brought to life every day in the dozens of old towns and villages, such as the fishing villages of Urk and Spakenburg. In the merchants’ houses of the trading towns of Kampen, Stavoren and Enkhuizen. But also in the nature reserves of The Oostvaardersplassen between Almere and Lelystad. Together this collection of rich, special and surprising places form The Golden Circle. A journey of discovery definitely worth making.

A Circle of trading towns

The area can rightly be called The Golden Circle. Along the ancient margins of the old Zuiderzee is a long, long circle of charming, typically Dutch towns. Each one made rich thanks to the salt water of the old Zuiderzee. Take Enkhuizen, Hoorn and Amsterdam, for instance. During the Golden Age the ships of the East India Company set sail from here for the Dutch East Indies. The Glory of Holland in those days is still to be seen in just about every facade.

But the Zuiderzee was not only where the ships set sail to trade with the East. From trading towns such as Workum, Vollenhove, Makkum and Elburg, ships plied the northern seas in large numbers. Sometimes with surprising results, as in Hindeloopen, where the furniture is still painted in Scandinavian style, in particular using motifs in red and dark green.

Shipbuilding and fishing

Trade across the seas means shipbuilding too, of course. This was carried out everywhere a few centuries ago. In the meantime this traditional craftsmanship has been brought back to life in the heart of the old Zuiderzee, at the Batavia shipyard in Lelystad. There, the building of "De Zeven ProvinciŽn" (The Seven Provinces) is in full swing, a reconstruction of Michiel De Ruyter’s flagship. Or take a look in Kampen; there the Koggeship has been rebuilt in the old traditional way. The building of fishing boats was a regional specialty too. Because the Zuiderzee was an earthly paradise for the fishermen. Visit Urk, Spakenburg, Marken or Volendam and buy a freshly smoked eel from a cheerful fisherman in authentic costume. And breathe in the aromas of past times in the harbour.

Water became land

The trading spirit of the inhabitants of the Zuiderzee was also expressed by their mastery in creating land from the water. Even in the 14th century, land was being won from the sea using primitive but well thought-out techniques. The beginning of a long succession of polders, with Flevoland as the last one in the series. All the land so won showed itself to be fertile for all kinds of new cultural and natural treasures.

Hotel, bike and boat packages and day trips

As diverse as the Zuiderzee region still is, so diverse are also the opportunities to discover the treasures of The Golden Circle. Various routes have been made; such as Amsterdam to Giethoorn, and from Makkum to Enkhuizen. Day trips and hotel, bike and boat packages varying from 3 to 10 days are available. For more details about day trips and hotel, bike and boat packages in The Golden Circle please call The Golden Circle, 00 31 (0)320 286767.


The following places are all within The Golden Circle:

Blokzijl-Giethoorn- VOLLENHOVE
Wervershoof-Medemblik-Wieringerwerf-Den Oever

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