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pakhuis klompen Windmill fiets lighthouse
Here is Holland
ISBN 978-9059721418 - 492 pages


Almere: A City Raised from the Sea

Get this! – There’s a city – in fact the whole province of Flevoland– on land that used to be under the sea… the Zuiderzee, to be exact, before the Dutch reclaimed the land in 1976 and made the country bigger. Leave it to the inimitable Dutch – those masters of water control – to carry off such a feat. I went there recently to see what all the fuss was about.

Almere and the surrounding areas are like an architect’s dream. Imagine being given the opportunity to design entirely new landscapes and towns from scratch. Add in a dash of Dutch design ingenuity and you come up with a mind-boggling array of architectural feasts for the imagination. In fact, one of the housing developments there is called ‘The Fantasy’ (De Fantasie), where architects were given free reign to live out their fantasies. Others include ‘The Reality’ (De Realiteit), and ‘Wished (or Popular) Living’ (Gewild Wonen). Wished Living, which is located in the Islands Quarter (Eilandenbuurt) put the wishes of the homebuyers first, with the result that this suburb is made up of various islands and peninsulas surrounded by water.

Located on a ‘polder’ raised from the sea, Almere now has roughly 180,000 residents. And to think that there were once fish swimming where they walk…

Word to the wise: Make the VVV Information Office your first stop (in the City Hall or ‘Stadhuis’), and pick up a copy, in English, of their architectural walking and driving tours. Take the City Center walk first (the Stadshart Almere), and go all the way to #17 on the map to see The Fantasy houses. (Make a left at the little footbridge with the sign to Weerwater.) ‘Reality’ requires either a car or bus ride to get there. If you have a GPS system, set it for one of the streets, such as I did for Sabapier, park around there and walk through the village. … Lots of unique-looking houses for sale at the moment, so save those euros!

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