Marken Helst1


Marken, a popular sightseeing destination near Amsterdam, was an island from February 17th 1164 until October 17th 1957.

Some interesting facts:

  • Marken was formed by the Juliana Flood, caused by a major storm, which redefined Holland’s coastline in 1164.
  • In 1957 Marken was reconnected with the mainland by a two-mile causeway, a product of the big Zuiderzee Works Project
  • Before the project, there were three other islands in the Zuiderzee, Wieringen, Schokland, and Urk. Of the four, Marken was the last to lose that status.
  • Of the former Zuiderzee islands Marken feels most like an island still, because it is only connected to the mainland by a single road through the water. The others have become part of the reclaimed land.
  • Like Schiermonnikoog, the island was inhabited by monks in the Middle Ages.
  • For several centuries one of the main economic drivers for the island was transporting large East Indiamen into the harbor of Amsterdam in a floating dock, because the water was too shallow for the ships to make their own way in.
  • Because of its unique island culture and proximity to Amsterdam, Marken became a popular tourist attraction in the 20th century.
  • One of the best-known inhabitants of Marken was Sijtje Boes (1895-1983). For almost seventy years she sold souvenirs. Strategically placed at the entrance to the island, her store became the first and last stop for all visitors.

For more on Marken, read Issue 35 of Dutch the magazine.

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Original article by: Tom Bijvoet