The European kingdom of Holland, known also as the Netherlands, was until relatively recently, a powerful trading nation that possessed many colonies. Most of this land of tulips, windmills and canals is located below sea level and in the 17th century, was the most prosperous country in Europe.
Amsterdam is Holland`s splendid metropolis, a city of canals and gables where almost anything is permitted as long as it does no harm. Today, the view across the main square and royal castle gives little hint that the city is supported by stakes and is the largest lakeland village in the world.
Every ten years in a huge open-air area between Amsterdam and Schiphol Airport, an international exhibition of garden architecture is held, the Floriade. It features hundreds of blossoming show gardens that are admired by millions of visitors from all over the world.
In the 16th century, life on the ocean wave brought glorious times for the city of Edam that is now world famous for its cheese of the same name. More than 30 shipyards once prospered in the city and the fleet of legendary Dutch hero, Michiel De Ruyter, was built there.
Nijmegen lies proudly on the banks of the River Waal. The origins of Holland’s oldest city are to be found in the Roman settlement of Noviomagum. The triangular market square of this university and Hanseatic town is dominated by the Waag House, a red-bricked building of Renaissance design.
The Molens Van Kinderdijk is a fascinating landscape of windmills and a UNESCO World Heritage Sight. Its 19 windmills are world famous and of course, typical of Holland.
The fascination of old cities, dreamy fairytale-like villages, paintings by some of the world’s greatest artists, bicycles and windmill, Holland is very much a land of the familiar and also the exotic.