IJmuiden/Velsen, a joint conglomeration, has many diverse and surprising faces. The harbours, the vast and yet still relatively quiet beaches, the nature reserves, and the cultural riches make for a unique recipe.
The sea locks of Velsen, the Northern Locks, are amongst the world's biggest. They are the main entry to the far famed Port of Amsterdam, letting through 19.383 ships in the year 2000, an average of 53 a day, just to give you an impression of the amount of traffic the locks have to process. As the sea ships were getting bigger and bigger, the Southern Locks (1876) as well as the Middle Locks (1896) were getting increasingly inadequate and it was decided that a third set of Locks were to be constructed; the Northern Locks. Their accessibility meant that Amsterdam's harbour was able to develop itself into the fifth biggest harbour of the world. Anyway, this story is about IJmuiden, not Amsterdam.
The IJmuiden harbour is Holland's oldest and most important supply harbour of fish. Originally the fishermen moored their boats on the Sluisplein quay in front of the Southern Lock, but as this started to clog up the entrance to the canal, a special harbour was dug for the fishing fleet in 1888, soon to be followed by another harbour solely for the herring fisheries. There's the Fisherman's monument on the Lock side by the top of the harbour and an old water tower on the village side that used to supply the ships with water. If you like fish we recommend you have a look inside the various restaurants you find there, and have a look at all the different species of fish they have on offer in their retail departments.
There are plans to dig a third harbour
in the near future but this would mean clearing the 2nd World War bunkers,
now protected with monumental status, so nothing has been decided as yet.
Walking on the strip between the two harbours, the Middenhavenstraat, you'll notice all sorts of big and small businesses, all more or less nautically related. Presenting a reassuring picture during the day, it could be the background of a Starsky & Hutch style shoot-out after closing time (Huggy Bear: "word on the street goes, they're in an old warehouse at the edge of town"). At the end of the street you'll find the biggest of the two lighthouses that IJmuiden possesses, built around the same time as the North Sea canal. Climb the dune here, and you'll see an illogical mix below you of corrugated shacks, flats, industries, fishing ships, passenger ships, pilot ships, the steel mill across the water, the bunkers, the smaller lighthouse and the endless sea with it's huge vessels.
Holland's most modern marina is situated
at IJmuiden's cosy (there we go again with our Dutch "gezellligheid") boulevard.
From this place you only have to cross the sand dunes to enjoy the broad,
The South Pier, which extends three kilometres into the North Sea, is accessible on foot. Land inwards, the woods offer a perfect excuse for healthy walks combined with a fair dose of history, for example the 18th century mansions like Beeckesteijn which has been transformed into a museum nowadays, complete with authentic English and French gardens. Take your time to explore the cemetery of Driehuis, beautifully preserved and maintained. Or have a look at the old centre of Velsen, with it's 8th century Engelmundus church.
A good starting point for this walk is
the Pieter Vermeulen Museum - Moerbergplantsoen 20 - on the route of Connexion
bus # 82 - open tuesday-friday 13.00-17.00 hrs. From there this route will
take you to the Sea and Harbour Museum in the former Fishery school on
the Havenkade (open wednesday, saturday, sunday 13.00-17.00 hrs.)
If you want to pay a visit to the Tourist Office (VVV) first you will need about 15 mins. longer.
VVV - Zeeweg 189-191 tel: 0255-538007
This walk was mapped out for you by the Velser Monument Commission at a cost, to you, of Hfl 3,=. There's also the new Zilvermeeuwen route, published by the Pieter Vermeulen Museum @ 2,50.
The cemetery Westerbegraafplaats has an entrance (formerly the main one) in the Fultonstraat across from # 11.
In the middle of the lock complex you will find the Information Centre "Noordzeekanaal in zicht", this will open around January 15 (open tuesday-friday 13.00-17.00, admission free)
The Sea Rescue squad KNMR is open for
visitors during business hours.