The Zaanse Schans is the most romantic and tranquil area in the Zaanstreek, a busy industrial town along the banks of the River Zaan in North Holland.
In the 17th century there were as many as six hundred windmills trimming their sails to catch the wind along the banks of the River Zaan. Many of them were used for draining polders (lake areas drained to be converted into rich arable land) but just as many were used for industrial purposes; grinding corn and cocoa beans, hulling rice and barley, producing mustard, paint pigments, oil, hemp, and cloth as well as sawing logs into beams, boards and laths and producing paper.
Not many people know that The Netherlands in situated below sea level and the Schiphol airport is about 4 meter below the sea level. In the ancients days these windmills played a vital role in draining water out of the polders and helping reclaim precious land for agriculture and farming.