Only twelve miles north of Amsterdam, Volendam is pure charm. It is picturesque, quaint, yet never sleepy or boring. Especially during the summer, the streets of Volendam come to life with a cacophony of languages from all over the world.
Some interesting facts:
- Volendam’s history begins in 1357 when the people of nearby Edam decided to dig a shorter connection from Purmermeer (Purmer Lake) to the sea. They built a dam in Edam’s old harbor, the location of present day Volendam, and land reclamation quickly followed. Fishermen and farmers settled in the new area, which was fittingly named ‘Follendam’, literally ‘filled dam’.
- Being relatively isolated, Volendam’s inhabitants maintained their distinct dialect, customs and traditions.
- Volendam has remained a catholic enclave, not touched by the Reformation, which swept through the surrounding countryside.
- Although many towns, villages and regions have distinct traditional dress styles, Volendam’s is the one that became the de-facto ‘Dutch’ dress known the world over. A trip to Volendam is not complete without having your picture taken in traditional dress in one of the studios along the dike.
- Volendam developed into the popular tourist attraction it is now in the late 19th century. It became a retreat for painters from all over the world, who flocked to the picturesque fishing village with its quaint customs. A stunning example of a painting inspired by Volendam is Paul Signac’s Le Port de Volendam (1896).
- A regional delicacy, gerookte paling (smoked eel) is served in a variety of ways at many of Volendam’s restaurants and fish stands.
- Volendam has produced a surprisingly large number of popular musicians for a town its size. The abundance of Volendam singers and bands has even spawned a moniker for the style: ‘Palingsound’ or ‘Eel Sound’.
- A visit to Volendam is often combined with a ferry ride to Marken, another traditional Dutch fishing village with its own traditional dress style, which is also instantly recognizable, yet very different from Volendam’s.
For more details about Volendam, read our Travel feature in Issue 12 of Dutch the magazine.
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