Saturday, February 12, 2011

Old Sweet Town of Zoetermeer


The city of Zoetermeer (means Sweet Lake) is located about 9 km away from our house. We go there every Saturday because DS is learning and trying to get his Diploma B swimming certificate at a local pool. Last week, after swimming lesson, both of us, DS and I eargerly took a little walk in search of the elusive poffertjes pan (you may read the story of poffertjes here and here). I had identified where to get the pan and had a rough idea of the location of the shop. So long as we walked straight, we would find it.

It was a beautiful day albeit a bit windy. We took the route alongside of the canal, walking slowly taking our own sweet time. And what a pleasant surprise that greeted us that day.

Wilhelmina Park - a lovely scene on the way to the old town.

The Oude Kerk (The Old Church)

The other view of the church

As soon as I saw the old church and read the year stated on it, I realised that we had actually ended up in the old town of Zoetermeer, a place that I never realised existed before !!! The church was built in 1642.

Sleepy town


The town was quiet, not many people around considering it was 1.30 p.m on a Saturday afternoon. The shops were quite picturesque because of the old buildings. We easily found our shop and quickly made our purchase. Then we continued with our little sight-seeing and went to the back of the town. It was a mistake actually, we should have bought the cast iron pan on the way back towards the new city centre (the bigger and newer side of the city) and not beforehand. The small pan weighed considerably in my hands. On the back lane of the town, there were neat houses overlooking canal and the Wilhelmina Park. In the distance we could see an old windmill. I would have gone and checked the mill, but my extra burden made me delay it for another day :D

If you look carefully, you will see the old windmill at the background.

The old windmill "De Hoop" or The Hope built in 1897 - picture frm Mr Google

Since the wind was getting stronger and my burden was getting heavier by the minute, we walked back to the other side towards the new city centre.

Stadsmuseum (City Museum)

On the way to the new city centre, we found this Stadsmuseum which was built around 1870. I believe it was an old house and later converted to a museum. We didn't go in for the obvious reasons :D


On the opposite of the Stadsmuseum, there was an old farm house "De Vlaming" which was built in 1850.


The still in use old farm was surrounded by newer modern houses. Behind it I could see Grote Dobbe (Lake Dobbe) which devides the old medieval town from the new city centre.

The funny thing is the streets after the farm and the museum were named after places in London, such as Oxfordstraat, Londenstraat and a few others. Obviously these are later street additions around the old place.

Back at home and much later, a search on the internet reveals the following :

Zoetermeer was a small village in the 10th century and home to farmers and fishermen. In the 13th century a village centre was formed which still exists as the historic Dorpsstraat - ie the old town where I purchased my heavy cast iron poffertjes pan. Until 17th century there was a lake called Zoetermeer. A reminder of the lake is "the Noord Aa" at the northern edge of the city, an artificial lake created when there was a necessity for sand for building material and development. The real growth of the city only started in 1966 when there was an urgent need for houses around The Hague. From then on they started building new quarters around the old village centre and Zoetermeer began to grow and becomes the third largest population center in South Holland province after Rotterdam and The Hague.

We shall definitely be visiting the medieval village centre again, to see the windmill, the Grote Dobbe and the Stadsmuseum. Apart from this old attractions, there are also the indoor ski slope Snoworld and go-karts and laser game centres to entice those who are interested. Now, had I not been obsessed with finding the pan, I would probably never find out about the historic medieval village of Zoetermeer !!!

14 comments:

Aishah said...

Thank you. Holland is a country that I've visited or passed through on the way to other European countries, quite a number of times and I am really interested in your pictures and reviews. They brought home some memories, some remembrance and some things that I did not see.

Cat-in-Sydney said...

Mother of Ilham,
If not for the poffertjes pan, eh? I love your discovery. Purrrlease return there soon. purrr....meow!

Nana said...

Lovely and quiet place. Wow...I envy you! Love the windmills too. Oh yes, been wanting to ask, Can you easily spot Dutch ladies wearing their traditional wears? Or not anymore...? :)

Bangchik said...

Quiet but interesting place... Going through streets is like winding up clock to medieval time. When spring comes, colourful flowers will bring out their best!
~bangchik

iina said...

I love when by accidence discovered a new town or places.. because it would be lots of elements of surprises..

Nice places kan ;)

i amsterdam said...

Aishah,

Oh dear... you are a season traveller! Now I feel embarrassed the way i was rambling on the tulips in my comment to you!!!

Oh well... my embarrassment is short-lived ha..ha.. Anyway.. living in a european country for the second time gives me the opportunity to see and observe their places, attitude, culture and whatnots. I learn more about their places & culture now as compared to years ago when I was young.. :D

i amsterdam said...

Dear Mama Cats,

My preoccupation and ridiculous obsession with the pan seems to have a purpose after all!!!

In case anyone is wondering, I have yet to do anything with the pan he..he..he..

i amsterdam said...

Dear Nana,

It was surprisingly quiet!! But the new city centre was a buzy place on a Saturday... we went there in the middle of January, and it was full of people.

Holland have a lot of windmills dated back to the 17th century. I had taken photos some of them but I have yet to mention it in here he..he..

To answer your question, no Dutch ladies do not wear their traditional costumes anymore... But if you are to go to Volendam, the fishing village on the north of Amsterdam, and you go to the various cheese making shops, you will see them wearing the costumes. And in Volendam itself, some sales ladies do wear the costumes. I think it is more for tourist purposes...

Hey.. only Malaysians still proudly wearing our baju kurung, baju kedah and kebaya on everyday basis!!! And also some other countries like India & Pakistan.. of course :D

i amsterdam said...

Bankchik,

It is indeed interesting to see this old place, but then if you want to see a true medieval town, we would have to bring you to Brugge in Belgium. That town is very special indeed esp at night, I heard. I had been there only at daytime :D

i amsterdam said...

iina,

Truly, it is the element of the unexpected that makes it wonderful!!

Rosfida Abu Sufi said...

Oh...you are killing me again with envy! The picture of the sleepy town reminds me so much of Brussels..there's a town similar to that near Tervuren and my brother and I would often frequent its cafe that served the most delicious pastries in the universe and then off to the parks for our long walks! Beauuuutiful!

Cheqna said...

lovely lovely...can u defer the next visiting and wait for us..hehehe

:-)

i amsterdam said...

Dear Rosfida,

Now you have piqued my interest... now i must search for Tervuren :D

i amsterdam said...

Cheqna,

Just show your face here, we will surely bring you there :D