Workum, one of the cities in the historic Friese (Friesian) Elfstedentocht (it means “11 city journey”) ice skating raceThe History of WorkumOld Workum NS (railway) StationOld photos - WorkumThe official heraldic shield of Workum
|Discovery tour through one of the famous 11 Friesian cities |
It is a historic fact that the Elfstedentocht was already taking place as early as 1763. No one knows who came up with the idea to skate through these 11 cities in one day. We do know that this journey of journeys really appeals to the imagination, not only in Fryslân (the Friesian language name for the province Friesland), but in the whole of Nederland and also in many other places.
The Elfstedentocht is popular even when there is no ice, because the journey does not have to be undertaken on skates. The sights and pleasures of this route can be enjoyed strolling, biking, skating, canoeing, horse riding, sailing (utilising the fact that almost all bridges can lift out of the way of the mast), motorcycling or driving.
|City of earthenware and old establishments |
Workum is earmarked by the long main street covered on both sides by stately rows of historic buildings. While Workum is not situated on the coast, it nevertheless participated actively in the sea trade. This was made possible primarily through the wide canal named ‘It Soal’, which connected the city directly with the former Zuiderzee (Southern Sea, now the Ijsselmeer). You reach the lock on the border of Workum exactly two kilometres after leaving the Ijsselmeer along It Soal. The stately old houses along the dike reflect perfectly in the canal water. Right by the lock is the old ship yard De Hoop. Ships have been built and restored here for more than three centuries. The ship yard remains a going concern to this day, and with a bit of luck you can get permission to come and have a look at the yard in action.
|Downtown De Merk |
Merk is the Frisian word for market. It is obvious then that this was the commercial centre for ‘Workumers’. The development of De Merk was practical and well thought out. The city council building, the city waag (a building were the weight of commercial goods was audited) the church, and the buildings housing the former secular and ecclesiastical authorities were built close together. You will also find old hotels and hostels, and the homes of rich merchants and prominent local authorities.
|Formal earthenware |
Along the coast of the former Zuiderzee (Southern Sea) you will find many small manufacturers of old fashioned earthenware. You will also find a representative sample of these workshops in Workum. Characteristic of the local type of earthenware products are their simple brown designs and ringeloor type decorations. At the start of the 20th Century the ‘kerfsnee’ pottery technique was introduced. If you are interested in pottery you should certainly take the opportunity to have a look in one or more of the local workshops that still use ‘kerfsnee’ and ‘ringeloor’ techniques. You are sure to find some fabulous souvenirs as well.
|From second-hand dealer to artist |
The paintings and sketches of Jopie Huisman are world renowned and much loved. This former 'lompenboer' (a dealer in second, third and even fourth hand goods) and scrap metal merchant taught himself to paint and chose as subject many of the second-hand items he dealt in. His ability to capture in detail both the common place and the poverty he saw around him is now greatly admired. Consequently Workumers felt that his works should be made available to the public in their own museum. This was obviously a good idea, as the museum proved so popular that the first building for it rapidly became too small to handle the stream of visitors. These days the Jopie Huisman museum is housed in a much bigger space, where thousands come and view not only his famous “worn out underpants” and shoes, but also his portraits.