With about 10.000 inhabitants, Monnickendam is a rather small place, not far from the huge city of Amsterdam. Its history however, is long and rich and today it is a monumental little place. Some 74 buildings have gained national heritage site status, many in the centre.
The town received city rights in 1355, providing it with a number of benefits and the village quickly grew larger. Large fires destroyed most of the city in the late 15th and early 16th century, the last one leaving no more than 80 house intact. Nevertheless, the town was rebuilt and flourished the rest of the 16th century, when the production of cheese and the smoking of fish brought economic wealth, together with the emerging shipyards. Since the current IJsselmeer was still a sea (Zuiderzee) then, and it was connected to Purmerend and Alkmaar through rivers and lakes, Monnickendam could be easily reached by large vessels. Trade developed between the village and the countries around the Baltic Sea. Many of the historic buildings today have their origin in those prosperous times.
Later, dams and dikes that were built to protect the region from the water, brought an end to Monnickendam's connection to outer sea and an area of economic downfall began. From those days on, like other towns in the region, cattle stock and the production of dairy became the town's primary activity. A canal was dug to allow so called "tugboats" to reach Amsterdam.
- VVV tourist information office, Zuideinde 2, ☎ +31 299-820046. daily in summer, 10AM-5PM. Limited hours in winter.. The tourist information office serves as the main one in the Waterland municipality and has a good selection of maps, information listings and even some souvenirs. They can also assist in finding accommodation, bike rentals etc.
The main access road is the N247, which connects the village directly to Amsterdam in the south and passes along Broek in Waterland in between. To the north, that same N247 connects Monnickendam to Edam-Volendam and ultimately, close to Hoorn, to the A7/E22
Bus connections are ample, many of them passing by on their way from Amsterdam to other destinations in the area. Some of them only stop on the side of town, on the Bernardbrug only, but that's still an easy walking distance. Coming from Amsterdam, line 115 runs directly between Monnickendam and Amsterdam, and will bring you right up to the church. Alternatively:
- Line 110, 118 and 210 pass by on their way from Amsterdam to Edam and back
- Line 111 passes by on its way from Amsterdam to Marken and back
- Lines 114 and 117 pass by on their way from Amsterdam to Hoorn and back
A great way to get to Monnickendam is by bike. There are many cycle routes that will take you there:
- From Purmerend train station - Volendam Cycle Route (45 or 37 km).
This small town can be explored well on foot, but a bike is a good alternative.
Just wandering or biking through town will quickly show the main merits of this place. Make sure not to miss:
- Grote Kerk (St. Nicolaaskerk) (Big Church), Zarken 2, ☎ +31 299-653 943. Tu-Sa 11AM-5PM, Su 1PM-5PM. Building of this large church began at the end of the 14th century, when the rapid growth of the town made the older church (located at another location) too small to hold the faithful. The first part of the structure was finished around 1412, and from then on it was in use. Nevertheless, it took another 250 years for the current building to be completed. Despite this long period and the many architectural changes over the years, the church held on to its Gothic origin.
- Museum De Speeltoren (Bell tower), Noordeinde 4, ☎ +31 299-652203. This bell tower is part of the city hall and contains the oldest carillon in the Netherlands, make of 15 bells. The museum that is housed in it is currently closed, but scheduled to re-open in Spring 2012. It has exhibitions on the village's history.
- Exploring the surroundings if of course often done by bike, but the abundance of water in the region make boat trips a lovely activity too. They will not help you to get around Monnickendam itself so much, but from the town's harbour plenty of boat options are available for a trip through Waterland. If your budget allows, a traditional sailing boat is nice, but smaller electric boats are available too. Renting agency's are plentiful and the local tourist information office can he helpful in choosing the one best fitting your wishes. However, call ahead.
- Four Seasons, Haringburgwal 3, ☎ +31 299 655 584. Right in the centre of the village, this place serves modern Asian cuisine, with a touch of fusion cooking. mains from €12.50, menu from €24.50.
- 't Waepen van Naang Nuan, Havenstraat 7, ☎ +31 299 655 415. Tasty Thai food. On Fridays and Saturdays after 10.30pm, the music is turned up and this becomes a lounge bar serving Thai fingerfood. €15.
- De Roef, Noordeinde 40/42, ☎ +31 299-651860. BBQ/Grill restaurant with mostly steaks buts also some fish dishes. mains from €16.50.
- De Waegh, Middendam 5/7, ☎ +31 299 651 241. Located in the old weigh house, now a monumental building, this restaurant serves French/Mediterranean food. In summer, there's a lovely outdoor terrace along the water. mains from € 18,50.
- Overleekerhoeve, Overleek 25 A, ☎ +31 20 436 1387. A few nice apartments on a farm, a few minutes out of Monnickendam's centre. Rooms are clean, the family friendly and watching the farmer milk the cows is for free. Minimal stay is a weekend. €175 for a weekend.
- Suitehotel Posthoorn, Noordeinde 43, ☎ +31 299 654 598. Pretty boutique hotel with an excellent, 1 Michelin star restaurant. Rooms are comfortable and decorated with 18th century art. €145.
- B & B Flower Garden, Margrietstraat 29, ☎ +31 299-651170. This nice and clean place has 3 rooms, all with tv, and a lovely flower garden. Breakfast is good and served between 8 and 9AM €40.
- Post office, Graaf Willemlaan 24 (inside Deen supermarket). M-F 9AM-5PM, Sa9AM. The postal service point in the supermarket offers a large range of services, including international ones.
Nearby destinations include: