Welcome to Friesland
With unique cultural heritage and it own language, Friesland (Fryslân) is a special place in the north. If you thought the Dutch were fond of water, or tall, or “nuchter” (matter-of-fact), wait ’til you meet the Frisians.
Bûter, brea en griene tsiis, wa’t dat net sizze kin, is gjin oprjochte Frysk. (Butter, rye bread and green cheese, who can’t say that is not a real Frisian) as the Frisian saying goes. Legend says that this saying was used by Grutte Pier, a Frisian warlord from the Middle Ages, to distinguish Frisians from the non-Frisians. It shows how deeply-rooted the Frisian language is in Frisian culture.
Frisian, a recognized minority language, is spoken in Friesland. Depending on where you move to in Friesland, you might hear more Frisian around you than Dutch. Luckily, most Frisians nowadays are multilingual and are fluent to certain degrees in Frisian, Dutch, and English.
Frisian historically is more closely related to English than Dutch, but if you speak some English and Dutch you might be able to understand more than you initially expect!
The history of Friesland started with the Frisian kingdom, founded around the year 600, stretching from modern Friesland all the way to Germany and Belgium along the coast. And after all these years, the Frisians never lost this identity, even as a province of the Netherlands. Their history can be seen everywhere, from statues of Grutte Pier, to stories about the Frisian spy Mata Hari and tales of the old Frisian King Redbad (Radboud).
Friesland isn’t just a special destination for tourists, it’s also an attractive investment climate for (international) entrepreneurs. Friesland houses several big players such as Philips and BD Kiestra in Drachten, Ausnutria Hyproca in Heerenveen, Wetsus (the European research facility for sustainable water technology), and of course a big shipping industry.
With its inland waterways, lakes, canals and the Wadden Sea, the province of Friesland is ideal to explore by boat. for waterspouts enthusiasts, Friesland is the place to be. Think of the annual Sneekweek, Europe’s biggest inland sailing event, Skûtsjesilen, a Frisian sailing competition, and fierljeppen, the typical Frisian sport of vaulting over canals. Exploring Friesland’s life around the water will take you down beautiful routes on or off the water.
Frisians even love being on the water in winter. Friesland hosts the largest skating event in the world: the Alvestêdetocht (Elfstedentocht or The Eleven Cities Tour), a 200-kilometer ice skating tour through the eleven cities of Friesland. Even the Dutch King Willem-Alexander partook in 1986 under a pseudonym to remain anonymous.
Unfortunately, it only takes place when all the waterways have frozen over and the ice is thick enough, but due to winters being less cold in recent years, the last edition was held in 1997. Despite the Alvestêdetocht not taking place, the province is still famous for its speed skaters.
Friesland is famous for its four Wadden Sea Islands: Vlieland, Terschelling, Ameland and Schiermonnikoog. The four islands are easily accessible by ferries from Harlingen and Lauwersoog. The islands are perfect holiday destinations where you can cycle, walk through nature and the dunes or walk along the beautiful long beaches.
The most challenging thing you can do on the Frisian coast is something called “wadlopen” (mudflat hiking) where you walk from the coast to an island through the mudflats during low tide. The Wadden Sea is on the UNESCO World Heritage list and definitely worth a visit.
In addition, Friesland has several national parks, a plethora of cycling routes and walking trails, so it’s a perfect place to dive into nature.
Friesland has something for everyone. Relax while enjoying the serene nature and the inspiring scenery. Experience the comfortable and relaxed atmosphere of Friesland.
For more information about Friesland, visit their website.