Giethoorn – Dutch Camels, Goat Horns And The Other Venice

Giethoorn is a beautiful village situated in the Dutch province of Overijssel.

With over 180 bridges, this little settlement known as The Small Venice of The Netherlands, is only accessible by boat and attracts more and more tourists every year.

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Short History

The village of Giethoorn is a place full of history, with a fascinating past.

Founded in 1200’s by a group of fugitives from the Mediterranean region, Giethoorn was firstly inhabited by illegals and criminals.

The village got its name from a large number of goat horns found on the grounds after a massive flood, which destroyed the area a few years earlier. The settlers named the little village Geytenhorn, meaning ‘goat horn‘, which in time became Giethoorn, the name currently used nowadays.

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Wooden plank  with the emblem of Giethoorn

Early settlers, including Franciscan monks, took to peat mining and the canals were dug for transportation. Some areas became lakes, many of them not deeper than 1 m. Actually, the small village has currently only one lake naturally formed, also 1 m deep, like the water canals.

Only in 1958 Geithoorn became popular as a tourist destination, after the Dutch filmmaker Bert Haanstra made a comedy, Fanfare, at this location, attracting tourists in large numbers, who named the small village the Venice of Netherlands.

Water Canals and Bridges

As mentioned above, the place is not accessible by car. Inhabitants who own cars, have a special parking lot, where they leave their car, and jump into their boats for the rest of the trip home, or walk, depending on the area where their house is located. With so many water canals, the village is home for over 180 wooden bridges.

With so much water, Giethoorn is the place where even nowadays wooden boats are handmade, without any blueprints, like in the old days. This means every boat is unique, in shape, size and looks. The boats are considered so precious, they are passed from generation to generation.

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Top right – Traditional boat handmade in Giethoorn

During history, with every new island created, every owner was forced to build his own bridge, to connect the property to the rest of the village. Starting off with only a simple wooden board from the shed, not wider than 30 cm, nowadays, the bridges are beautiful structures, over the very busy water canals.

Nowadays, nothing changed from this point of view, so the house owners are still in charge of building and maintaining their own bridges.

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Camel Roofs

Giethoorn is a village with beautifully designed houses. Even if all houses are unique, at a closer look, you will notice one thing most of them have in common, which is that the roofs have an unusual shape.

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Camel Roof

As the area was initially constantly affected by floods, the locals were forced to find a solution for their livestock. Bringing the animals inside was the best one, so the house roofs got a camel hump, in order to create the extra space needed.

Even more interesting, is the placement of the hump, which is towards the back of the house, to preserve the heat in the front of the house, during the cold season.

Even if not many goats live in the village at the present day, we can say the camels never left the area. 🙂

Cooking Houses

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Traditional Cooking House

Having straw roofs can be pretty dangerous, especially when you plan on doing some cooking. Because the locals were extremely afraid of fires, they decided to build the kitchen outside the main house, in a separate smaller house, with regular roof tiles.

Not much bigger than a garden shed from nowadays, the cooking houses are not used anymore, but kept as a reminder of the small village’s beautiful past.

Vacation islands and concerts on water

In the area, you can rent a vacation house, or why not, even your own little island.

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Concert hall on water, floating ice cream store and island for rent

The place also hosts concerts on water, where people drive their boats to a stage in the middle of the lake, and listen to the performance.

The last farmer…

Tourism definitely changes the face of any location on Earth. People have to readjust and accommodate tourists, or simply relocate.

As the place became a major tourist attraction and everything is done by water, not all activities find a spot anymore, in the village’s new lifestyle.

During warm days, over 650 small boats are rented by tourists, not counting the larger tourist boats. As most tourists have no experience sailing, the narrow water canals are constantly very busy and sometimes traffic comes to a full stop, especially when most boats end up on top of each other, instead of passing by each other.

Considering the new traffic flow, farmers couldn’t possibly do their job anymore and had to switch from farming, to tourism, as bringing all the supplies needed, proved to be way too difficult and in some days, even impossible.

Even so, Giethoorn can proudly say it still has one farmer left, who’s still doing farming, by water, on his own little island, as it has always been done, since the beginning of the settlement.

Living in a place like Giethoorn sounds like a dream, but considering all the intensive tourism in the area, the place is slowly losing its charm for locals. Business vs privacy … Which one wins in the end?


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The Amazing Blue Moon

I’m very sad to inform you, that contrary to my belief, at a closer look, the moon is NOT made out of cheese 🙂

Even if not blue and not cheese, I think it looks absolutely amazing!!

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Special thanks to my dear reliable Nikon, for making it happen.


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Bee Season

Either in our gardens, the park, or flower fields, spring is the season when we see a large number of bees, flying from one flower to the other. It’s the right season to admire these beautiful insects, at work, and capture a few pictures.

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Every now and then, we might meet a few exhausted bees, unable to fly back to their hive, which puts them at risk of being eaten by birds. We can help the bees though, by making a sugar and water mix which helps revive them.

To create the ‘energy drink’ you should mix two tablespoons of white, granulated sugar, with one tablespoon of water, and place the mix on a spoon. Even if it seems little, do not add more water, otherwise the bee could drown. Then, place the exhausted bee on the spoon, where it will hopefully have a drink and gather the energy to fly back to its hive.

I believe bees are essential for the planet, so every rescue matters. If we can do something to help, then why not? 🙂 Happy Bee Season!


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My New Guard … Ducks?!

It’s always fun to make new friends, and today I made a new one, when a wild duck landed in my garden, early in the morning, looking for something to eat.

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After feeding it, the duck left, just to come back with 4 more friends. Word gets round fast, doesn’t it?wild_ducks

With 4 more satisfied customers, I went back inside only to find the house surrounded and guarded by my new friends.

I think I’ve just been adopted by 5 wild ducks 🙂 Neat!

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Keukenhof – Flower Paradise

Keukenhof ( in Dutch, “Kitchen garden“), situated in Lisse, the Netherlands ( halfway between Amsterdam and The Hague), is also known as the Garden of Europe, which is the world’s second largest flower garden following the Dubai Miracle Garden.

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Short History

The origins of the garden goes back to the 15th century, when Countess Jacqueline of Bavaria, Jacoba van Beieren, gathered fruit and vegtables from the woods and dunes around, for her Castle kitchen.

keukenhof_treesLater on, in the 1850’s, the landscape architects Jan David Zocher and his son, Louis Paul Zocher, were asked to redesigned the castle’s gardens, which became the basis of Keukenhof, as we know it today.

Only in 1949 the idea of a permanent exhibition of spring-flowering bulbs, appeared, and this is the moment when Keukenhof became a spring park, opened every year, for 3 months only.

With approximately 7 million flower bulbs planted annually, on an area of 32 hectares, Keukenhof is a fascinating place for spring flower lovers.

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The Origin of the Famous Tulip 

As we learn something new everyday, I think it’s important to mention that contrary to my belief, the first cultivation of the tulip began not in Netherlands, but in Asia.

The Tulip was originally a wild flower growing in Central Asia, cultivated first, by the Turks, around 1,000 AD. The flower was introduced in the Netherlands in the 17th century by Carolus Clusius, a famous biologist from Vienna.

The flower is called tulip, after the Turkish word for turban!

Because he was hired by the University of Leiden to research medicinal plants, he brought back some bulbs from Turkey, for his garden in Leiden. This was the start of the amazing flower fields we can see today.

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In the 17th century, the tulips were used both as a garden decoration and medicinal purposes and soon became a trading product, being sold for unbelievable high prices. The traders made large amounts of money, to the point where people started to sell their businesses,homes, farm and animals, only to participate.

The over-supply led slowly to lower prices and dealers went bankrupt, moment known as the “Tulip Crash”, when the government introduced special trading restrictions for the flower.

The flower became so popular because of the bright colors,which was a way to impress among the wealthy.

Visiting Keukenhof

If you visit Keukenhof by public transport, I recommend taking the Keukenhof Express bus 858, from Schiphol, or the 854 from Leiden Central Station, as there’s no direct connection from Amsterdam to the garden.

If you plan to visit by car, make sure you leave early and get ready for a long and frustrating traffic jam. Because the garden is open for only a short period of time every year, it attracts a large number of tourists from all around the world, which makes the area very busy.

The best part about visiting a new place is always the company, so I want to thank my blogger friend, Gin, for the wonderful opportunity of meeting her, in person, at Keukenhof. What really makes a place beautiful, is the wonderful people you travel with, so I would say the tulip adventure was just perfect!


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