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Tag: Friesland

18th century planetarium and Museum Martena in Franeker

We would never had gone to Franeker , or Frjentsjer in West Frisian,  if it weren’t for Ulrika and that she regularly looks at Atlas Obscura to see if there are some interesting places to discover.

The world’s oldest still working orrery can be found here. The orrery was built from 1774 to 1781 by Eise Eisinga, an amateur astronomer, in his house to help the people in Netherlands understand Astronomy. In 1774 an alignment of several planets happened and this induced mass panic among the Dutch people,  who thought that a planetary collision was imminent, and Eise Eisinga wanted to show that their fears were unfounded.
Eise Eisinga had not been allowed to go to school, but he was gifted and through self-education he mastered mathematics and astronomy and published a book about the principles of astronomy when he was only 17 years old. Eisie Eisinga became a wool carderer,  but would later be recognized as a scholar and become a professor at the Franeker Academy.

Vi hade aldrig åkt till Franeker, eller Frjentsjer på västfrisiska, om det inte var för att Ulrika regelbundet tittar på Atlas Obscura för att se om det finns några intressanta platser att upptäcka.

Världens äldsta fortfarande fungerande planetarium finns här. Solsystemsmodellen byggdes mellan 1774 och 1781 av Eise Eisinga, en amatörastronom, i sitt hus för att hjälpa folket i Nederländerna att förstå astronomi. 1774 inträffade att flera planeter hamnade i linje och detta orsakade massapanik bland holländarna. De trodde att en planetkollision var nära förestående och Eise Eisinga ville visa med sin modell att deras rädsla var ogrundad.
Eise Eisinga fick inte gå i skolan, men han var begåvad och genom självstudier lärde han sig att bemästra både matematik och astronomi.  Eise publicerade en bok om astronomins principer när han bara var 17 år gammal. Eisie Eisinga blev en ullkardare, men skulle senare erkännas som lärd och bli professor vid Franeker Academy.

The house with the orrery. Usually in Netherlands the entrance to the museums are the house next to the house that contains the museum. So here the entrance is the house to the left of the planetarium.

Eise Eisinga loved astronomy so that was his focus when he was building his orrery, and he also collected them. The museum also contains astronomy instruments from more modern times.

The orrery was constructed to a scale of 1:1,000,000,000,000 (1 millimeter equals 1 million kilometers). Each planet continues to orbit the sun at an appropriate speed (i.e., earth, once a year; Saturn, every 29 years).

People from the Franeker academy went to see his planetarium and they all could confirm that his calculations were correct. They have a guided tour in the room every 10-15 minutes and they do the tour in dutch, but you can request English and then it becomes a bilingual session.

We could walk up to the second floor to see the mechanics behind the orrery. Othilia like to walk by herself up and down stairs.

This is the work of only one man and the orrery contains over 10,000 hand-forged nails.

We walked around in the museum looking at old books and manuscripts, some of them written by Eise Eisinga himself.

a much smaller orrery.

The earth with slices showing different continents. Othilia got tired so we had to leave the planetarium before we had the chance to look at everything, so we plan to come back here when she is older.

Franeker can be traced back to the 800’s and the name probably derives from Froon-acker, meaning “country of the king”, so it is an old town with lots of history. The city is small, but we came later during the day, so we went to the planetarium, ate at a restaurant and then had to go home to come back the day after.  When we went to the planetarium we got offered to buy a combination ticket for Museum Martena (8.5 Euro/person)  and we accepted that offer, but wouldn’t be able to visit the Museum Martena the same day. The combination ticket is valid for one year, so that is good if you run out of time as we did. Both the planetarium and Museum Martena are quite small so we would have made it to both on the same day if we hade arrived earlier to Franeker the first day.

Franeker kan spåras tillbaka till 800-talet och namnet härstammar förmodligen från Froon-acker, vilket betyder “kungens land”, så det är en gammal stad med mycket historia. Staden är liten, men vi kom sent på dagen så vi gick på planetariet, åt på en restaurang och sedan var vi tvungna att åka hem för att komma tillbaka dagen efter. När vi kom till planetariet så fick vi erbjudande om att köpa en kombinationsbiljett för Museum Martena (8,5 Euro / person) också och vi accepterade det erbjudandet, men kunde inte kunna besöka Museum Martena samma dag. Kombinationsbiljetten är giltig i ett år, så det är bra om du har tidsbrist som vi hade. Både planetariet och Museum Martena är ganska små så vi skulle ha hunnit med båda på samma dag om vi hade anlänt tidigare till Franeker den första dagen.

We took a walk in the city center our second day in Franeker.

The small square and the church in Franeker.

Othilia got to explore som parts of Franeker by herself. More pictures from Franeker in the slider below.

Museum Martena is a fortified stone house built around 1500 by a nobleman called Hessel van Martena. He was constantly at war with other noblemen in Friesland so he needed strong security. Inside is a collection of art and furniture from different eras, ranging from the van Martena family, but also from other noble families that has lived in this house. The van Martena family owned the house until 1694 when Suffidus Westerhuis bought the house. He was keen on bringing the house to the 18th century so much of the wall decorations comes from his era.  It is a lovely place to walk around in with exhibitions on all floors, with belongings from the different families who once lived here.

Museum Martena är ett befäst stenhus byggd omkring 1500 av en adelsman vid namn Hessel van Martena. Han var ständigt i krig med andra adelsmän i Friesland så han behövde stark säkerhet där han bodde. Inuti finns en samling av konst och möbler från olika tidpsepoker, från van Martena-familjen men även andra adelsfamiljer som har bott i det här huset. Familjen van Martena ägde huset fram till 1694 när Suffidus Westerhuis köpte huset. Han var angelägen om att föra huset till 1700-talet så mycket av väggdekorationerna kommer från hans era. Det är en härlig plats att gå runt med utställningar på alla våningar, med ägodelar från de olika familjerna som en gång bodde här.

Museum Martena. The entrance is through the house next to it.

A room with Arcadian wall paintings, put there during the renovations by Westerhuis in 1694.

There are a many portraits of former inhabitants of house Martena.

The Mulder family that lived in the Martena house in the 1800’s. Mr Mulder was a doctor and professor at Franeker university and used his daughter (in the lap) as guinea-pig for the cowpox virus vaccine. Mr Mulder died after he used himself to demonstrate how to drain an inflammation on one of his sinuses during a class that he taught at the university. He developed fever and died a few days later.

The top floor is dedicated to two interesting residents of Franeker. One room is dedicated to Anna Maria van Schurman, a female scholar from the golden age of the Netherlands (17th century). She knew 14 languages and she promised her father never to marry so she could dedicate her life to study.

The second room on the top floor is dedicated to Jacob Kooistra, a lorry driver who built his own fun fair in 1940. All the components of the fair are made of throwaway materials. The whole town helped Jacob Kooistra by collecting old bicycle lamps, christmas tree lamps and old cigar boxes to give to him.
Below is a short video from the fun fair. For 0.5 Euro we could see the show for ourselves!


More pictures from Franeker, house Martena and Planetarium:



Leeuwarden – Leaning tower and an aqua zoo

Leeuwarden, or Ljouwert in West Frisian, is a town we have visited three times. First time we went to the aqua zoo which is located east of Leeuwarden. The second time, we went to Decathlon to update our wardrobe and on our way back home we decided to drive through Leeuwarden. We saw a beautiful town, but it was when we drove past The Oldehove we knew that we had to come back and explore the tower and the city.

The Oldehove is an unfinished church, where its tower started to lean more and more during construction. The construction began in 1529, but it soon started tilting, so after several attempts to rescue the tower the construction was stopped in 1532-33. For 3.5 Euro you can go up in the tower and see the church bells (from 1633 and 1637), which is still working and rings,  and look at the view over Leeuwarden.  The height of the tower is 39 meters (128 feet) and has 183 steps. There is an elevator up to the first floor, but you still have to take the remaining stairs to the top. The top of the tower is displaced horizontally 2 meters (6 ft 7 in) from the center and we definitely felt the displacement going up the stairs on the side of the tower.

Leeuwarden, eller Ljouwert på västfrisiska, är en stad vi har besökt tre gånger hittills. Första gången besökte vi aqua zoo som ligger strax öster om Leeuwarden. Andra gången åkte vi till Decathlon för att uppdatera vår garderob och på vägen hem beslöt vi oss för att köra genom de centrala delarna av Leeuwarden. Vi såg en vacker stad och när vi körde förbi Oldehove visste vi att vi var tvungna att komma tillbaka och utforska tornet och staden.

Oldehove är en oavslutad kyrka, där tornet på kyrkan började luta mer och mer under byggandet. Byggandet började år 1529, men snart började tornet luta, så efter flera försök att rädda tornet upphörde konstruktionen år 1532-33. För 3,5 Euro kan du gå upp i tornet och se kyrkoklockorna (från 1633 och 1637), som fortfarande ringer, och titta på utsikten över Leeuwarden. Tornets höjd är 39 meter och har 183 trappsteg. Det finns en hiss upp till första våningen, men man måste ändå ta de återstående trapporna upp. Tornets topp är förskjuten horisontellt ca 2 meter från mittpunkten och vi kände definitivt av förskjutningen när vi gick uppför trappan på sidan av tornet.

Leeuwarden, we can’t get enough of the canal-filled towns we visit here in Netherlands.

The leaning unfinished tower.

The entrance. They are usually open everyday during summer form 1 pm to 5 pm.

The way up was narrow and the stairs were leaning so much that we felt like being on a boat while walking up the stairs. Not so bad walking down though.

In the windows going up, they have also put in pictures of how Leeuwarden looked like from the tower during older days. We could have seen a big windmill from this window, but we are a few years to late.

Finally up and Othilia could run around while we parents tried to enjoy the view.

The view is amazing from up here.

Not so many tall buildings in this town.

We also had time to explore the city center.

Othilia got to taste her first ice-cream and she loved it.

Othilia got distracted by some nice boys borrowing their ball to Othilia. She was happy and content and didn’t want to jump into the canal in this moment.

And we bought some Dutch cheese, we found really good aged Gouda cheese that we bought.

Cheese, clogs, bicycles are a few things Netherlands is known for.

A few houses that were built in 1609. it is another thing we notice here in Netherlands. A lot of the houses leans in different direction.

We also walked through a park full of noise from these old music machines. They were scattered around the park for some kind of show day for these kind of old playing instruments.

We will show more pictures from Leeuwarden in a slider below. We will also show some pictures from the Aqua zoo, located in the eastern part of Leeuwarden. It is a lovely little zoo with mainly marine animals, from penguins to seals, crocodiles and birds and monkeys. They have a small playground and we estimated that 2 hours would be enough time spent there if you have children as young as Othilia. The entrance fee is 17 Euro/person (15 if you buy the ticket online) and a 4 Euro parking fee.

Vi kommer visa fler bilder från Leeuwarden i ett bildspel nedan. Vi kommer också att visa några bilder från Aqua zoo, som ligger i den östra delen av Leeuwarden. Det är en härlig liten djurpark med främst marina djur, från pingviner till sälar, krokodiler och fåglar och apor. De har en liten lekplats och vi uppskattar att 2 timmar skulle vara tillräckligt med tid där om du har barn så unga som Othilia. Entréavgiften är 17 Euro / person (15 Euro om du köper biljetten online) och 4 Euro i parkeringsavgift.

Othilia and the penguins. They are almost as tall (or short) as Othilia.

The park is so green! Here does the pelicans live.

They have both smaller monkeys and gorillas here.

Raccoons  and skunks begging for food. For 0.5 Euro you could buy some snacks to feed them.

Othilia patting a fake crocodile. The real ones were behind glass.

There was also a children’s zoo where goats and hens were living and could be patted.

We ended our visit at the playground and Othilia did enjoy the zoo! Below is a slider with more pictures from Leeuwarden and the zoo.



Harlingen – the fishing and shipping city of Friesland

“You must go to Harlingen!” was the first tip we got from our host family. “it is the most beautiful town in the Netherlands!”, they continued, and we followed their advice and took an afternoon exploring trip to this coastal city.
Our host family was right, it is a beautiful town and it is one of the nearest towns to our small village. We were hoping to find a sports bar that would broadcast the semi-final between Sweden and Netherlands in the women’s soccer world cup.

Harlingen, or in West Frisian, “Harns”, is an old fishing and shipping town that got its city rights in 1234. City rights is an interesting phenomena dating back to 1000 AD in this part of Europe. When feudal landlords got into  financial problems (and usually did), they were often forced to  offer sale privileges to settlements, and these sale privileges comprises the city rights. The feudal lords could often get a cut of money in exchange for the loss of power by doing this, and over time, the landlords had to sell more and more sale privileges. The result was  a shift of power within the counties and some of the towns that got city rights even developed into city-states. You can read more about this on wikipedia.

We strolled around in Harlingen on the look out for a bar that would show the football game, but we also managed to take a few lovely pictures that shows the small town as we saw it. It is lovely here!

“Ni måste åka till Harlingen!” var det första tipset vi fick från vår värdfamilj. “Det är den vackraste staden i Nederländerna!” fortsatte de, så vi följde deras råd och tog en eftermiddagsutforskningstur till denna kuststad.
Vår värdfamilj hade rätt, det är en vacker stad och är en av de städer som ligger närmast från vår lilla by. Vi hoppades även  på att hitta en sportbar som skulle sända semifinalen mellan Sverige och Nederländerna i damernas fotbolls-VM.

Harlingen, eller på västfrisiska, “Harns”, är ett gammalt fiske- och sjöfartsställe som fick sina stadsrättigheter år 1234. Stadsrättigheter är ett intressant fenomen som går tillbaka till 1000-talet i denna del av Europa. När feodalherrar fick ekonomiska problem (och oftast fick de det), var de ofta tvungna att erbjuda handelsrättigheter till olika bosättningar, och dessa handelslicenser består stadsrättigheterna av. Feudalherrarna kunde ofta få en andel av vinsten (vinstskatt) i utbyte mot förlust av makt genom att göra detta, och över tid behövde dessa  feudalherrar ge ut fler och fler stadsrättigheter. Resultatet blev en maktförskjutning inom landet och några av de städer som fick stadsrättigheter utvecklades även till stadstater. Du kan läsa mer om detta system på wikipedia.

Vi promenerade runt i Harlingen och höll utkik efter en bar som skulle visa fotbollsmatchen och vi lyckades också ta några fina bilder som visar hur den lilla staden som vi såg ser ut. Det är vackert här!

Othilia on the porch covering the canal (that she really wanted to take a bath in).

There are a lot of canals in Harlingen and both small and large boats explore Friesland by water by entering through Harlingen.

Othilia gets to ride her father’s shoulders a lot (when she is not tired). The sling is only used nowadays for napping. All other times we as parents need to be on stand by if she wants to be at ground level, to walk herself.

The stone houses are everywhere, not just in Harlingen. But it is amazing how different they can look in just one city. Here is a specially nice stone house.

Canals and stone houses are Netherlands to us now.

Sluices make the car, boat, bicycle and pedestrian traffic co-exist in the Netherlands.

Lots of boats.


We ate dinner in Harlingen at a really beautiful restaurant.

Ulrika and Othilia waiting for food.

We found a pub that were in preparations for the game later this evening. We said hello to the owners and promised them to come back for the game. We took a short walk to entertain Othilia and explore Harlingen a bit more.

We let Othilia walk, but she needs to ride Dad’s shoulders when we are close to the canals or else she will fight us for not letting her jump in.

A few random pictures from our walk in Harlingen will be shown now. It is so beautiful here.

We have seen many house boats here in the Netherlands.

It was time for the semi-final between Sweden and Netherlands and we were the only Swedes at the pub. We could only stay the first half an hour of the game before we had to leave to get Othilia home. The Swedish team played well the part that we saw, but we heard that they had collapsed, and in the end the Netherlands stood as winners and a finalist team.

Pingjum – our magical village in the Netherlands

We decided to go to Netherlands, and we knew that we wanted to stay out of the bigger cities, so we ended up in Pingjum in Friesland, not knowing much about either Pingjum or Friesland.

Friesland is one of twelve provinces in the Netherlands and it is the only province that has their own language – West Frisian. Many of the cities have two names, a dutch and a West Frisian name, and I will try to write out both names when I write about the different places we visit.

Vi bestämde oss för att åka till Nederländerna och vi visste att vi ville undvika de större städerna, så det slutade med att vi hamnade i Pingjum i Friesland, utan att veta mycket om vare sig Pingjum eller Friesland.

Friesland är en av tolv provinser i Nederländerna och det är den enda provinsen som har sitt eget språk – västfrisiska. Många av städerna har två namn, ett holländskt och ett västfrisiskt namn och jag kommer att försöka skriva ut båda namnen när jag skriver om de olika platserna vi besöker.

Welcome to Pingjum! This small village of 600 inhabitants contains so much magic translated to scenery, kindness and openness from the locals. We feel right at home at our temporary home for the month. Notice the speed limit sign.

This is where we came from to get to Pingjum and on these kind of roads it is said that you are allowed to travel up to 60 km/h and it is wide enough for one car, we thought we had accidentally got on a road for bicycles.

The house we rent is a small one room with a fully equipped kitchen and it suits us perfectly. We have a lovely garden to our disposal and we are allowed to eat anything from the garden.

Huset vi hyr är ett litet ett rum med fullt utrustat kök och det passar oss perfekt. Vi har en härlig trädgård till vårt förfogande och vi får äta allt från trädgården.

This armchair and the stairs is Othilia’s favorite things in our rented house.

And lamps! Othilia can say a few words and lampa (lamp) is one of them. Other words are mamma (mom) och pappa (dad).

Our garden where we can go out at eat plums, apples, pears, red and black currants, gooseberries, almonds and walnuts. We also have a small herb garden that we are allowed to use.

Pingjum has only a few roads, a pizza place (which is open a few nights of the week), a distillery, a school and a communal garden. The streets generally are quite narrow in the Netherlands and sometimes we think that we are driving on bicycle lanes rather than a two-lane car road.

Pingjum har bara några vägar, en pizzeria (som är öppen några kvällar i veckan), ett destilleri, en skola och en gemensam trädgård. Gatorna är i allmänhet ganska smala i Nederländerna och ibland tror vi att vi kör på cykelbanor istället för en tvåvägs bilväg.

Our main road early in the morning.

This is the house style in all parts of Netherlands we have visited so far – brick houses. They are beautiful and we suspect that the houses are made out of bricks, and not wood, because of the climate here, windy and humid.

A bus that sells clothes stopped here one day. Their customers are likely older people who are not able to go to the cities to buy things to wear.

We have a small playground in the middle of the village where we go and meet locals and their kids.

Othilia looks so grown up in this picture.

There are a lot of animals in our village and cats is a also a favorite.

Agricultural landscape surrounding our village. Animals get grass fed here without any fences, only ditches keeping the animals away from the roads.

The communal garden is lovely and the locals takes care of this place together. The fruits of their labor are sold to the public using only a moneybox. We go here to buy our eggs and we can also visit the hens that lay our eggs.

Den gemensamma trädgården är underbar och lokalbefolkningen tar hand om denna plats tillsammans. Frukten av deras arbete säljs till allmänheten med endast en sparbössa. Vi går hit för att köpa våra ägg och vi kan också besöka de höns som lägger våra ägg.

Here is our only local shop where we can buy eggs and vegetables grown by the locals in the communal garden. It is a popular shop.

they also have a few animals.

Othilia and the communal animals. Say hello to Torsten, the goat. Pontus has named most of the bigger animals. The pigs are called Boris and Doris (not in picture).

And the rabbit is called Alice. Othilia knows how to properly give Alice dandelion leaves and she usually tries to take a bite out of the leaf before handing it to Alice.

Our pizza place is another place in the village where we meet the locals. They are so friendly here and always greets us strangers with a smile and an “oi”.  We have even spoken to some of them and dutch people in general are very good at English. West Frisian/Dutch is not so hard to understand if you know German, English and Swedish.

Vårt pizzaställe är en annan plats där vi träffar lokalbefolkningen. De är så vänliga här och hälsar oss främlingar alltid med ett leende och ett “oi”. Vi har även talat med några av dem och nederländare i allmänhet är mycket bra på engelska. Västfrisiska /nederländska är heller inte så svårt att förstå om du redan kan tyska, engelska och svenska.

We have a pizza place in Pingjum, which is run by a lovely Italian family.

The food and drinks are amazing. This beer is a new favorite.

The pizzas were good, but the most surprising dish (in a positive way) was the razor shells, which we ordered as a starter. Even Othilia liked eating them!

Pontus has started the habit of getting up early in the morning and borrow our host family’s bike to cycle around in the surroundings. Around us there are farmland and other small villages. Just a few kilometers from us lies the coastline and the sea, so we can smell the sea when the wind is right.

Pontus har tagit för vana att gå upp tidigt och låna vår värdfamiljs cykel för att cykla runt i omgivningarna. Runt omkring oss finns jordbruksland och andra små byar. Bara några kilometrar från oss ligger kustlinjen och havet, så vi kan känna havslukten vid rätt vindförhållanden.

The sun is about to rise, 5.30 am.

A walking bridge over the motorway.

The Netherlands i so flat, one can see several kilometers into the country from the coast. The only altitude in our vicinity is this levee that gives protection from the sea.

The coast in Friesland, just a few kilometers from our village. 

It is a good thing for us to be close to water with Othilia’s love for it. We have two sand beaches nearby, one at the coast near Harlingen. Othilia was amazed by the sandy beach, but we couldn’t jump into the water this time.

Unfortunately for Othilia, the water was far out so no bathing for her. Wattenmeer is saltwater ocean which is affected by the tide so we had to go to another place.

We went to our second option instead, a beach in Makkum and here we can swim in a fresh water lake (IJsselmeer). Othilia was happy to finally be allowed to sit in the water.

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