History and Culture of the former Zuiderzee - Golden Circle History

Zuiderzee - linked to the period in Dutch history called the Golden Age

The history of Holland has known numerous memorable events and happenings in which the Zuiderzee has played a crucial part. The battle against the water was won by clever water management and land reclamation. The development of the shipping industry brought Holland fame and prestige through fishery, world trade and industry.

The Zuiderzee is irrevocably linked to the period in Dutch history called the Golden Age: the period in the 17th century when Holland was a powerful seafaring and trading nation. The Golden Circle will lead you along the shores of the Zuiderzee, through Holland’s rich history, and its beautiful countryside.

Exploring North Holland, a province of the Netherlands, offers us a chance to learn about Holland's "Golden Age." Located in the northwest part of the country, it is divided into 65 gemeente or local governments. In the fishing village of Volendam, on the IJsselmeer coast, one can still see villagers wearing traditional costume and Dutch wooden clogs. One of the harbor towns of the Dutch East India Company, Enkhuizen played an important part in the Dutch struggle for independence and today retains numerous buildings of the 16th and 17th centuries. The Zuiderzeemuseum is an open-air museum that reflects life in the villages around the Zuiderzee during the Middle Ages. Schiphol Airport, in Amsterdam, is one of the busiest and most user-friendly airports in the world. Our last stop is the small village of Edam, which is world famous for its sweet-milk cheese.

Holland was the vanguard of Europe, leading the way in productivity-enhancing economic advances. The per-capita income remained steady and high, as the population grew 50%. Urban workers saw their wages grow 50% from 1570 to 1670.

Zuider Zee, former shallow inlet of the North Sea, c.80 mi (130 km) long, indenting NE Netherlands. In ancient times Lake Flevo, it was joined to the North Sea by a great flood in the 13th cent. A vast drainage project, begun in 1920, split the old Zuider Zee into the IJsselmeer , S of the IJsselmeer dam, and the Waddenzee, between the dam and the West Frisian Islands. Much of the IJsselmeer has since been reclaimed for farm lands and urban expansion.

Protected inland waters such as the Zuider Zee and the waters around Zeeland attracted fishermen, who built small towns. The demand for food from the growing cities encouraged them to build dikes and reclaim arable land for commercial agriculture. Gradually the sea was conquered and the northern provinces of the Netherlands rose out of the water. Agricultural output grew steadily at 4% a decade.
Urk, once an island of the former Zuiderzee, now part of the Northeast (Noordoost) Polder, The Netherlands.
Urk, once an island of the former Zuiderzee, now part of the Northeast (Noordoost) Polder, The Netherlands.

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