The north of the Netherlands is home to pristine nature which I covered in a previous article (read here), so it is time now to take you to the culture which Lauwersmeer area is rich of. In this article I will share with you my experiences in Dokkum & Moddergat, a medium size city and a small town close to my roots. Both places can be visited on a day trip from the middle or north Netherlands or combined in a longer trip from anywhere else. A must for any traveler interested in culture and new experiences, enjoy!
Moddergat – ‘t Fiskershúske
Moddergat is a small old fishing village in the north of the Netherlands forming one community with its twin town Paesens, together Paesens-Moddergat. Moddergat is an outstanding example of 18th-19th century fishing villages in the Netherlands and therefore a protected national monument. You can learn about the history in the local museum ‘t Fiskershúske which is situated in original small cottages from the 18th century.
The various cottages show how the fishermen lived in the 19th century. One of the houses shows a living area which is a small room with a cupboardbed that would never fit me, it is so small. I always thought that the Dutch were tall people, but it seems that’s not true. In the back of the house you can see how the fish was processed step by step. Interesting is that the house actually housed two families, one in the front and one in the back. Another cottage has an exhibition on the fishermen and another with furnishing of the early 20th century. The last cottage is dedicated to the disaster of 1883 when in a storm 83 fishermen died. This event changed the life of the female inhabitants forever as all the breadwinners died, except one. He survived 24 hours in a ship that was upside down and when he recovered he started to fish again. The strangest happened: he “catched” the dead body of his uncle which he saw drowning in the wild water. On the dike across the museum there is a monument as a reminder for all those who died.
Moddergat is best visited in the morning on a cultural day trip. See the museum first and then walk the dike and enjoy the fresh air. After a nice stroll you probably get hungry. From here drive, or cycle, to the historical town Dokkum for lunch at de Posthoorn which has a great view over the canals and old houses.
After lunch you can take a city tour arranged by the Dokkum Museum which takes around 2 hours and will pass by all the major monuments Dokkum is rich. The guide will tell you everything about the history and it costs less than 5 euro. History dates back over 1250 years to the year 754 when Bonifatius was killed near Dokkum. This, and the fact that it’s one of the 11 cities of the Elfstedentocht (ice-skating) in the Netherlands, make it a worldwide known city. Did you know that if the bell on the town house strikes at 11 in the evening you cannot skate further anymore to the finish in Leeuwarden? This is because the ice-skaters already started in the morning at 5 AM and to skate more after dark would be too dangerous. Strange things happen when some ice skaters are stopped as they just want to continue and finish.
Start at the Bonifatius chapel which is located just outside the original city walls with its bastions and gates. You will pass by windmills, 17th century houses, two churches: St. Bonifatius church and St. Martinus church and a water tower. Once you finish your walk through history you can go shopping in the many shops Dokkum is rich. It’s a very nice shopping city and if you do not like shopping you can go for a canoe tour on the canals.
You will probably notice that Dokkum is built on higher ground, approximate 7 meters, because the sea was much closer in the old days as it is today. At the end of the day, if weather permits, have dinner outside and wait till 21:50 when the clocks strike. This is a tradition from old times when the gates would close for the night at 22:00. Don’t worry, they don’t actually close anymore. After a great beer at de Posthoorn were I had lunch too I went back to my Bed & Breakfast Batenborg for a great night sleep.
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Did you visit northern parts of the Netherlands too or do you have questions? Please leave a comment at the bottom of the page. Love to hear from you!
Gallery Dokkum and Moddergat
Click an image for a full screen gallery of more photos taken during this trip. If you like to use any photo for commercial, private or editorial use please contact first for permission and/or pricing.