Vlag Friesland                         FRIESLAND AS IT IS

Driving your car from Amsterdam Northward along the road leading through the marshy country aptly called Waterland, past ancient villages and history towns, through fertile polders, reclaimed from inland lakes or from what used to be the Zuider Zee, polders in which people live from anything between a few feet and seven yards below sea level, you will eventually smell the brine again and hear the waves of the North Sea against the foot of a dike near the small village of Den Oever. Here your eye will be struck by a billboard proudly proclaiming: Last Refuelling Station in Holland. No need, however, to delve into your pockets for your passport, for you will not need it for another lumdred miles or so. Yet you are about to cross a border no less real because it is without any political significance. After Den Oever comes the db_PC-Wad41Enclosing Dam, a hundred yards wide and eighteen miles long, that turned the Zuider Zee into the Ysel Lake, and on reaching the other end of it you are no longer in Holland hut in Frisia, called Friesland in Dutch and Fryslan in Frisian. Frisia is part of the Netherlands, hut you had better not say it belongs to Holland if you want to keep on friendly terms with the Frisians - who, by the way, are among the friendliest people in the world. They may be compared to the Scots (who resent to be called English ) in more ways than one. Among other things they have a language of their own that differs greatly from Dutch and can boast of a fine literature both ancient and modern. The scenery, however, is as different from Scotland as one could possibly imagine. The country is mostly flat, a wind-swept plain grown with grass and intersected by innumerable ditches and canals. Both meadows and waterways are very essential to Frisia. The grass feeds the famous black-and-white cattle sold to all parts of the globe for breeding purposes. A tin of canned milk bought in Montevideo or Tokyo will as likely as not bear the label of one of Frisia's ninety-nine dairy-factories. And the waterways do more than carry an extensive shipping: together they form an immense reservoir without which the low-lying country would be swamped. When working at full capacity the pumping-station near De Lemmer, the biggest in Europe, will remove 4000 tons of water into the sea every minute. The oldest inhabitants of these regions lived on terps or barrows and one may still see remnants of these artificial mounds, crowned with a lonely church or sometimes a tiny village. But since the land is protected by dikes most of the terps have been levelled and the Frisian Museum in Leeuwarden (Ljouwert in Frisian) contains a large collection of history finds that have come to light during the removal of those barrows! It would be wrong to think of Frisia as a country of grass and water only. The Southern district of Gaasterland, for instance, is sandy, with low hills, wooded in places, and altogether very picturesque. So is the entire South-east of the province in so far as it is not peaty. This is a paradise both for the historian, who will be interested in the remains of Palaeolithic cultures found here in great abundance, and for the lover of nature, to whom the db_molen1Linde valley is a sanctuary if only because it is the habitat of that rare butterfly Chrysophanus dispar. Scattered all through Frisia from South-west to North-east are numerous lakes great and small, from mere pools to expanses of 5000 acres, all of them inter connected. Small wonder that sailing and fishing are popular sports here. In the season thousands of small craft come and go between the bigger sails of imposing yachts carrying the flags of many nations. And indeed the best way to see Frisia and enjoy to the full the charms of its countryside is to look at it from a small boat such as may be hired with or without a skipper in Sneek or Grouw or a dozen other places. When in winter these wide stretches of water are one glittering expanse of ice, Frisia becomes one of the world's centres for skating, and to have completed the tour of its Eleven Towns (122 miles) in a single day is a feat of endurance ranking very high in the annals of sport. Both the farmer (whether his chief interest is cheese and meat or wheat and potatoes) and the man of business (who may have an eye for agricultural machinery and implements, wicker furniture, rope, gin, or any other of the thousand and one things produced by the Frisians) will find a trip to this province well worth their while and they will be glad to know that the well-equipped port of Harlingen is ready to handle anything that can be shipped. Those interested in architecture will welcome the opportunity of studying in a small compass an entire gamut of country building, from Xlth-century churches to modern farms, from the curious water-gates of Sneek and Sloten to old people's homes that may be held up as a model to any country. The lover of art will already be familiar with the painted woodwork of Hinde-lopen and the multi-coloured pottery of Makkum and Workum; here he may see the finest history specimens of these in the museums as well as the men who still makdb_PC-haven4e them in their quaint little towns. The man of science should not miss the opportunity to visit the world-famous XVIIIth-century Planetarium in Franeker. The lover of horses will want to see the famous black Frisians, as graceful as they are docile, in their country of origin, and if he is a lover of folklore, too, his heart will rejoice when he sees on some festive occasion - usually coupled with a trotting-match - high-wheeled gigs drawn by two of those proud black horses, the occupants wearing the old Frisian costume, gold head-dress for the women and all. And all visitors when tired of sightseeing will be glad to relax on the beach-sands of one of the Frisian North Sea islands, where the hand of man bas but lightly touched and never spoiled Nature's primeval beauty. A XVIIth-century Frisian poet said in a famous song that his country was "adorned with a thousand pleasures". These pleasures are still there, waiting for you at every turn of the road, within easy reach from any place in the Nether-lands. A car or the train will bring you in two or three hours from Amsterdam to Leeuwarden, capital of Frisia

Friesland (Eng)

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Laatste update 20 juni 2012

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