five – zwolle – navigandum per hereditatem

First train ride today, thrilling travel to Zwolle. 

After a morning dedicated to accounting and general boat maintenance, I got confirmation of a very sweet opportunity. 

fons’ support

Fons Janssen, the Coordinator of the European Climate Pact Ambassadors of the Netherlands, Belgium, and Luxembourg was visiting Mello and offered to spend some time with me offering moral support and guidance in the beautiful city of Zwolle. Excited by the opportunity of being finally able to meet him in person after many calls online and emails I accepted. After having – as always – jumped on the train right before it left from Harlingen Haven I enjoyed a peaceful ride through the Frysian countryside. At my arrival in Zwolle Central Station, I had Fons waiting for me on the spoor (platform) and bringing energy as well as three much-appreciated gifts. The first one was a batch of free-range chicken eggs coming from his family farm Zorgboerderij de Haam, he also kindly brought me a black and white decorated red bandana, actually a farmer’s handkerchief, and finally a t-shirt of the European Climate Pact

the city

The ancient cities of the Hanseatic League have preserved to this day a culture unparalleled in Europe, from Germany to the Netherlands to the Scandinavian countries. Zwolle, in the Netherlands, is one of them. The current capital of the province of Overijssel, with 115,000 inhabitants, is located about 120 km from Amsterdam and very close to another Hanseatic city, Kampen. Zwolle is not a seaside town, as perhaps its history might suggest; the powerful German league chose it for its river connections: today the city is situated on the waters of the Zwarte, a small river that flows into the river Ijssel, but at one time this small hilly area was surrounded by three rivers (I]ssel, Vecht and Zwarte). The name Zwolle derives from Suolle (hill), which was given to the town immediately after its foundation, which took place in the year 800 by merchants from Friesland and the troops of Charlemagne. In 1294, the city became part of the League and thus in 1361 took part in the war against Valdemaro IV of Denmark. In medieval times and especially in the 15th century, the city flourished economically, thanks to the trade brought about by membership of the league; art and culture followed as usual. Many palaces built in the period – sadly still – known as the Golden Age can still be admired in the old town, bearing witness to a rich and prosperous history.

the visit

Immediately on a first visit, Zwolle appears as a lively city with many opportunities and a vital economy. Easily accessible by road, river and rail networks. Just north of the railway station, we find a bought medieval centre. Most of the ancient walls that once surrounded it have been demolished, but the defensive channel is still clearly outlined. Within walking distance of each other, one can find many old buildings and picturesque streets. Fons and I firstly enjoyed a coffee in Nieuwe Markt before a chill walking tour in the city centre. The first sight we observed was Grote Kerk which is located in the centre of the Grote Markt square and is also known as the Sint Michaëlskerk church. It is a large sandstone building and can be regarded as one of the most unfortunate churches in the country: it was struck by lightning three times in less than 150 years. Inside the church, there are some examples of Renaissance sculptures and an organ that dates back to 1721. The rest of the church is straightforward in style compared to other Dutch churches. The Hoofdwacht is a beautiful building attached to the Grote Kerk, built in 1614 and formerly used as the city’s guardhouse. Public executions were only carried out outside the Hoofdwacht. At the front of the building is an inscription with the text ‘Vigilate et Orate‘ (watch and pray), perhaps a warning when considering the terrible punishments once carried out here. One of the places we mostly enjoyed were the Onze Lieve Vrouwekerk (Church of Our Lady) located just outside the Ossemarkt, is an old Catholic church from 1399 with a difficult history. In 1580 it was closed to Protestants and was used for various purposes, was later returned to the Catholics and reopened in 1809. The structure has a neo-Gothic style and is adorned with an interesting tower known as ‘De Peperbus‘, one of the tallest church towers in the Netherlands. The Doopsgezinde Church, a large church located at Wolweverstraat 9, is one of several churches created by members of the ‘doopsgezinde Societeit’ (Mennonite Christians of l Anabaptist sentiments). The church was built in the early 17th century and was extended and renovated in the late 1800s. We walked by the Museum de Fundatie and its amazing round-tiled roof before getting back to the Sassenpoort: a Saxon gate from 1408 located at the end of the Sassenstraat. It was originally built to protect the southern entrance to the city and is the only surviving medieval gate. The brick building with five spires currently houses exhibitions on the history of the town and it represented the perfect background for a lovely institutional picture. 

dutch dinner

Find and I enjoyed an early dinner again in Nieuwe Markt during which we managed to better understand how we could cross our actions and he shared with me exciting plans for the European Climate Pact Ambassadors community. I caught the train back to Harlingen and had an early night. Already planning tomorrow and the preparations for Allegra’s and my new departure for Navigandum per hereditatem.   

four – harlingen – nph

   Good morning, good news.

Allegra confirms she will be joining Navigandum per Hereditatem as of Tuesday! She has recently graduated and was looking for something meaningful to devote her time to and she managed also to bridge it with her passion for sailing coming from her grandfather.

This information sparked new enthusiasm in me and I gathered the necessary energy to adjust the trip and make the best of this stay in Harlingen. 


The morning was devoted to replanning the whole trip as the days that will be spent in Harlingen will delay the sailing too much and will prevent us to be in Bruxelles and Bruges in time for our meetings. So instead of completing the whole itinerary by boat, we decided to leave the boat in Amsterdam and move around by train hoping to find hosts in the two Belgian cities we will visit. Afterwards, instead of sailing through Zeeland, we will sadly have to get back, but this way we managed to get some extra time to visit the Randstad. This is a large polycentric conurbation in the Netherlands that consists of seventeen towns connected by a mixed network of fully integrated road, rail, and river routes. We will also have extra time to visit Floriade thanks to the tickets sponsored by the City Council of Purmerend. The Floriade Expo 2022 is a celebration of green and sustainable technology that will take place in a park. At this living laboratory, guests will have the opportunity to learn about cutting-edge innovations in the fields of greenery, food, energy, and health, as well as solutions developed by national and international innovators that make our cities more enjoyable, more beautiful, and more environmentally friendly.

the slave trade

I dedicated the afternoon to following again the itinerary on the slave trade traces in Harlingen, discovered by my friend and artist Fiver Locker and beautifully presented in the book Sporen van het slavernijverleden in Fryslân (“Traces of the slavery past in Fryslân”).  I already had the pleasure of discovering these hidden clues of the dark past of the not-so-Golden Age in this Frisian city when I guided a group of students and Professors participating to the Summer School on Minority Management for Social Justice of the University of GroningenCampus Fryslan

Fryslân is a traditional seafaring region. Many Frisian sailors braved the world’s seas, surviving the infamous scurvy or other diseases on board and in remote locations, while others succumbed to one of the many hardships. Their journeys in all directions were profitable, especially when trade in the Baltic and North Seas was extended to other continents at the end of the 16th century. The United East India Company (VOC), founded by the States General in 1602, and the West India Company (WIC), which followed in 1621, both played important roles in this. Both private commercial companies divided the overseas trade monopoly between ‘the East’ in the Asian region and ‘the West’ in the areas surrounding the Atlantic Ocean. The Dutch Republic’s Admiralties were also involved in this overseas trade, which they secured with the power of cannonballs and grenades. The occupation of areas outside Europe as part of the Republic of the Seven United Netherlands’ Expansion Policy became associated with the slave trade and slavery. That was true both in Southeast Asia and in the Atlantic region. Harrowing histories of the transatlantic slave trade in West Africa, as well as plantation economies in Brazil and later the Caribbean, have long been known. We now know more about the Asian world’s slavery and forced labour, which Dutch administrators, planters, traders, clergy, and sailors used to relieve their own work and gain status. Slavery and colonial trade were inextricably linked from the 17th century until the 19th century. Friesland has never been an isolated region. On the contrary, the province developed into a dynamic centre of various markets, attracting many Frisians from the Baltic Seato the Wild Coast in South America, as well as those from Amsterdam, Cape Town, and Batavia, as well as Deshima, Japan. Approximately twenty-five thousand Frisian seamen and soldiers sailed and fought in the service of the VOC, the WIC, and the Admiralties during the 17th and 18th centuries. ‘Friesland had its own Amiralities department. Some interesting places to learn about Harlingen’s slave trade history include:

  1. The Frisian Admiralty was once housed in the restaurant ‘t Havenmantsje. We pass a brick monument to Admiral Tjerk Hiddes de Vries on our way from the train station to the centre, over the bridge from ‘t Havenmantsje (Sexbierum 1622-1666 Vlissingen).
    2. De Drie Roemers, a colonial-style grocery store;
    3. De Groenlandsvaarder, a tobacco shop in Voorstraat 37.
    4. No. 61 Voorstraat is the birthplace of author Simon Vestdijk.
    5. V(F)olkert van der Plaats & son’s bookshop and publishing house in Voorstraat to no. 67.
    6. The Hannemahuis, Harlingen Culture and History Center. After visiting the Hannemahuis in Voorstraat, proceed to no.54-56. 7. Frederik Schuman’s home in Brouwerstraat no. 10, the child of a freed slave and the slave owner.
    8. The abolitionist Rev. Voorhoeve and the performance of the American ‘negro singers’ at the Grote or Nieuwe Kerk. William Booth Street, on the other side of the canal, along the water at the Frankeneind, is the fourth street on the right, named after the British founder of the Salvation Army.
    9. The Groenewoud family left a substantial colonial inheritance to the Mennonite orphanage.
    10. The residence of fur weaver Harmsen and fur ship owner IJzenbeek. We then take a right along the water to numbers 69-71:
    11. Anna Casparrii Hotel-Restaurant in Noorderhaven 69-71, directly in front of Tetide’s berth.
    12. The warehouses Java and Sumatra at Noorderhaven 74 and 80, refer to trade between Harlingen and Dutch colonies in Southeast Asia.

Harlingen ongeschut

In the evening I was surprised by people setting up stages, stands, and dance floors all over the city, and filling the inner-city canals with lights. I did not know I was stranded in Harlingen on the very day the city commemorates one of its most famous festival. Harlingen is not called de voorstad van Londen (“the suburb of London”) for nothing. The city has a bustling harbour, lovely canals, historic buildings, and several nostalgic bridges. Sailing gives you a completely different perspective on Harlingen than walking along the canals. Harlingen Ongeschut was unquestionably one of the highlights of the city folklore since 2012. More than 350 boats of various shapes and sizes responded to the invitation to take part in the new Harlinger event. It was a grand, pleasant, and festive cruise through Harlingen’s canals. A request has been made to all residents and ship owners along the route to install/hang a light point outside along the quay and/or in the trees, as well as to decorate the ships. This year, especially for this festival, the SAS, the gateway to the Wadden Sea, closes the inner locks, allowing you to enjoy a fantastic and one-of-a-kind round of Harlingen. ‘Harlingen Ongeschut’ is also accessible by foot or bicycle. Various musical and theatrical acts surprised me during the cruise, and I experienced the fairytale atmosphere on the water.

hoping for the best

I went back to Tetide full of energy after this day full of excitement. Still hoping that the Instagram outreach I made during the day to find someone willing to accompany me from Harlingen to Stavoren, or at least to Makkum, would have a positive outcome. Moving the boat a bit south would ensure that Allegra does not have to start her trip with long navigation and would give us more ease in reaching Amsterdam in time for our meetings.



Although I didn’t plan to stop in Prague, I did. And since it has World Heritage status and that’s, well, why I’m here on this road trip in the first place, I thought I’d go take a look at what the city had to offer. I arrived in the evening, and lacking orientation, set out in the direction of the Charles Bridge.

The minute I arrived and looked down at the broad Vlatava river, a sheet of rain hit my back so powerfully and at such a strange angle that I thought it was the foam of the Vlatava itself. I watched Prague empty, as if someone had pulled a drain.

Consequently, I couldn’t see a thing. So as far as World Heritage goes, I have nothing to report. What I can tell you, however, is that there is a little restaurant on Na Bojišti street that serves roast duck with caraway seeds, bread dumplings and soft red cabbage that tastes wonderful when you’ve just come in from the rain. And down the street, there is a hotel, the Tivoli, which has seen better days but is nonetheless bright and warm. There you can sit in bed and watch Czech television until sleep finally comes.



My hosts in Elbančice, Marcel and Katarina, are nuts about collecting mushrooms. Every spare inch of their house is filled with mushrooms laid out in various stages of cleaning or drying. The green of the billiard table is barely visible beneath all the mushrooms: chanterelles, oysters, porcini. Baking sheets are propped up precariously on the wood stove and the chairs, so that you have to tip toe everywhere. The cats are hissed at whenever they come too near.

When I meet Katarina out in the forest in her red raincoat, she looks very guilty.
‘I promised I’d be quick today, she says. ‘Yesterday I was out in the forest for the whole afternoon. Marcel was mad.’

She can’t help herself: even as we talk, her eyes move over the ground. She knows exactly where to look. Hřib Smrkový like the roots of silver birches, Liška Obecná prefer ditches. She gave up being secretive a long time ago, she tells me. There’s more than enough to go around. That’s what you come to realize as soon as you start to really look. She tells me about cars that she sees which are positively sagging with mushrooms. Cars so full that their driver is no longer visible. She holds each mushroom to my nose so I can smell its delicate perfume.

When I wake up in the morning, the wood stove in the corner of my room has gone out, and sun shines into the room through the small window. Beyond the fields, red pines bow deeply with every gust of wind. The clouds move quickly. Rain falls for a few minutes at a time, then stops again. When I go downstairs, I find a bowl of mushrooms, eggs, tomatoes and butter on the table.

I make breakfast, drink a cup of coffee and walk down to the old Jewish cemetery. Many trees have grown into and around the graves. On the edges of the cemetery, near the low walls, wild strawberries grow. Between the graves, mushrooms.

Jewish graveyard near Elbančice.
My room in Elbančice.
Marcel and Katarina’s stove.

Heading Out

I leave for my trip a few weeks later than planned, just as the weather takes a turn for the worse. Driving rain in Munich. As I head east, it clears but remains grey. Every car on the Autobahn overtakes me. After Deggendorf the road takes a sharp turn and heads steeply up the mountain. I look for a place to park and take one last look down at Germany, but there’s too much fog to see anything.

Želená Ruda is the Czech border town. Hand painted signs advertise cigarettes. There are two gas stations and two casinos. There are four nail salons with pink, blinking signs, and a dozen columns of blue wood smoke rising from brown, low houses. To the left and right of the only street, shacks are propped up like theater backdrops. Ornaments, bird houses and woven baskets dangle from their beams. Owners sit outside, wrapped from head to toe against the damp cold.

I drive through Harmanice, past wet fields ringed with birches. The road follows the black, narrow Otava river through Střelské Hoštice, Předotice, Zvíkovské Podhradi. Towns pass by in an instant and are gone forever. Apple trees heavy with fruit line the roads. Apples roll into the street and under my tires.

I stop to eat in Jistebnice. By now it’s evening, and Jistebnice is tiny and all dark, except for the bluish light of a bank machine, and the small yellow windows of a restaurant. A group of teenagers lean against a wall near my car. We get to talking and they invite me to a rave in a castle. I’m flattered but politely decline.

The restaurant is a small, packed room with an unlit fireplace in the corner. People shout and laugh and play cards. Children prop themselves up on muscular little arms and swing between the tables, yawning. I sit down and order fried trout and beer. When I’ve finished, I feel suddenly overcome with a sense of loneliness and decide to leave.

Voices and laughter follow me out into the street. The teenagers have left and the night is cold and quiet. I drive through the dark, and turn on the radio to keep from nodding off. The sky is as black as the Otava. No moon, no stars.

Somewhere between Munich and Elbančice. A windy day. Many people flying kites.
A country road.
Apple trees heavy with fruit line the roads. Apples roll into the street and under my tires.
A barn, somewhere near the border.

A country amidst its worst crisis – where does cultural heritage preservation stand?

Lebanon, the once celebrated “Switzerland of the Middle East”, is undergoing its worst economic crisis: From skyrocketing inflation and public school closings to increasing poverty. The UN has declared Lebanon a failed state. Yet lavish life remains feasible for those earning the US $, coming from abroad or for any mysterious reason. 

 The massive blast at Beirut’s port in 2020 has shaped Lebanese people’s collective memories. 

Further, it damaged hundreds of buildings in the Lebanese capital’s historic quarters, mainly in Gemmayzeh and Mar Mikhaël. Yet many buildings remain completely abandoned and destroyed. 


The preservation of cultural buildings has forever been a hot topic amongst urbanists and architects in Lebanon. A yet obsolete heritage law preserves only monuments built before 1700.

Lebanon has no legislation designed to incentivise the preservation of historic buildings

Given the current political turmoil, it will not become on the political agenda soon!  

Yet, Lebanon remains a stunningly beautiful and modern country. Lebanon prides itself, despite its small size, in being one of the religiously most diverse countries, home to 18 religions

My voyage encompassed:  Beirut, Jounieh, and Byblos to Tyre.

One of the most outstanding archaeological sites and the world, Baalbek (1984)

It is “one of the finest examples of Imperial Roman architecture at its apogee and took 120 years and 100,000 slaves to construct. There are three ancient temples at the Baalbeck Archaeological Site—the Temple of Venus, Jupiter, and Bacchus. The Temple of Jupiter is the principal temple of the Baalbek triad and was originally one of the most critical columns in the world. The Temple of Bacchus is easily one of the best-preserved remains of a Roman temple in the world.


Every summer, Bacchus Temple transforms into a unique venue and hosts concerts. 

Baalbek is not only reminiscent of its roman past but is a pilgrim site for Shia Muslims visiting the Sayyida Khawla Shrine.

Sayyida Khawla was Imam Hussein’s daughter and Prophet Muhammad’s great-granddaughter.




Egypt – more than world wonders

The next country on my MENA tour was Egypt, with Cairo, a city of more than 20 million people, as the first stop. 

However, my first connotation of the Arab metropolis was nothing but negative. (My fellow Egyptian friends recommended avoiding it.) 

Cairo is one of the worst major global cities in air quality, probably even #1.

The roads are heavily jammed. Be cautious—There is no such thing as traffic lights or driving signals! Everything is chaotic and hectic, moving at a different pace. 

Cairo and Egypt are simply intense, unique and charming with its thousand flavours and smells all around the corner, where modernity and tradition meet in any corner. 

From Cairo, Giza to Dahab – Egypt has stolen my heart. 

However, getting to Dahab, the diver’s paradise on the Red Sea, was nightmarish. With North Sinai adjoining Israel and the Gaza Strip, the area remains a “powder keg.” I have never surpassed so many checkpoints and shown my ID this many times in a few hours. 

During our drive, we ought to pass 14 checkpoints and, most of the time, get out of the minivan and show our IDs.

Yet Egypt surpassed all my expectations.  Two outstanding world heritage sites were as follows:

  1. Old Cairo 1979

Historic Cairo is one of the world’s oldest Islamic cities, established in the 10th century. It is so rich, with its 800 monuments, dating back to the 7th century: ancient mosques, madrasas, hammams and fountains. For breathtaking Islamic architecture and, surprisingly to me, the many Coptic churches, Cairo is a treasure trove. Indeed, Christians resided in Egypt before Islam entered the country in the seventh century, making Egyptian Christians the most significant Christian minority in MENA.  

2. Memphis and its Necropolis – the Pyramid Fields from Giza to Dahshur (1979)

For many reasons, the pyramids of Giza are the biggest draw for visitors to Egypt. In Hellenistic times, the Great Pyramids were listed as one of the Seven Wonders of the World. Yet they remain the only ones still in existence, making them probably the most well-known “world heritage” sites worldwide.

The opposite turned out to be reality. Instead of recounting why Giza has earned world heritage status, I listed what surprised me as someone who has always dreamt of going and watched uncountable documentaries and movies about it. However, what astonished me was the size of the fields themselves. It is impossible to visit the pyramids by simply walking around; it is impossible!!! You need a guide/van to carry you from one pyramid to another one. While the Great Pyramid represents the largest one, there are 9 pyramids and burial sites not to be missed! A camel or horse ride might seem like a tourist trap, but it is worth it! The paranormal viewpoint is the best place to marvel at the greatness of the fields. On one right, you can astonish Cairo’s skyscrapers; in the back lay the Sahara’s endless outlays.

As I was visiting the place at an insane 47 degrees (again!) Giza was not packed by its tourist crowds nor by (the many!) pushy vendors. 

You can visit the empty pyramids from the inside for an extra fee. Not to be recommended for claustrophobes, the entrance and hallway are tiny! 


Tunisa: a mix of roman and arabo-muslim heritage

I had the blast of finally visiting my amazing friend, who I met during my studies in Udine, Italy. She is from Tunis, Tunisia, and within ten days, we visit many intriguing places of the beautiful country, its people and culture, its cultural sites and its delicacies. Some places we visited are: Ell Haouria, Sousse, Carthage, la Marsa, Sidi Bou Saïd, Bizerte to El Jem to the northernmost tip of North Africa, Cap Angela.

Tunisia is also the country, where the Arab Spring started and ignited waves of demonstrations across the Middle East.  However, 10 years later society seems uncertain about how far positive changes have been accomplished.

Yet my friends complain a lot about the current economic challenges and soaring prices that harden living conditions in Tunisia.

The many breathtaking world heritage sites we visit testify to Tunisia’s both roman and arabo-muslim heritage: In particular I loved the  Amphitheatre of El Jem  and Medina of Tunis.

 Wonders of Roman architecture in El Jem – Amphitheatre of El Jem (1979)

Today is a brutally hot day. 47 degrees, and we arrive in the village of El Jem. Here stands the Colosseum, We can’t see any tourists at this point, but a camel sheltered under an umbrella. We dare not to resist and accept to take a  ride on the camel along the impressive ruins of the largest Colosseum in North Africa.

Its excellent state of preservation makes visitors feel awe and wonder. Built 2 centuries after Rome’s Colosseum, El Jem is visited by fewer tourists. We had the luck of being one of the few tourists this day which granted us a unique and adventurous discovery. The entrance fee is only 3 euros.

During summer evenings, even concerts are held in the marvelous monument. Interesting as I found that these cultural events were organized by the German embassy in Tunisia. 😲

Strolling through the enchanting Medina of Tunis (1979)

The Medina of Tunis is one of the first Arabo-Muslim towns of the Maghreb (698 A.D.) Under the Almohads and the Hafsids, from the 12th to the 16th century, Tunis was considered one of the greatest and wealthiest cities in the Islamic world. We are exploring the Medina   with Salah, found via  Guru Walk (same concept as Free Walking Tours) He is one of the best tour guides I have ever had and we spend a remarkable 4 hours together in the Medina. (You could absolutely spend even more time there)

By strolling through the Medina and listening to Salah’s stories bear witness to the interaction between architecture, urbanism and the effects of sociocultural and economic changes of earlier cultures.  700 monuments, including palaces, mosques, mausoleums, madrasas, and fountains, testify to this remarkable past.  Everything is simply unique – every door has its beauty and story: 

This Medina is probably the best one I have ever been and an interesting example of how people live within a world heritage site. 🥰

Have a look here to understand the versatile character of the Medina 🙂


World heritage and youths 🤝 – a quick intro

“Heritage is our legacy from the past, what we live with today, and what we pass on to future generations” reminds us of the rationale of preserving world heritage and youth’s role in taking an active lead. Whereas the universality of the concept is given per se, it remains often criticised as  “elusive and elitist” and barely understood by those outside its orbit. If this is the case, how can we overcome this challenge and bring world heritage to the spectrum of youth and the new generation, who are ultimately tasked with preserving and cherishing it? 

En route to Amsterdam, Beemster, Brussels, Brügge, Fontainebleau, and Bordeaux, I am most curious to explore the feelings of youth in and within the concept of a World Heritage city. 

  • What does World Heritage mean for young people? How do young people feel living in a world-heritage city?
  • In which ways do youth engage with “World Heritage”?  What motivates youth to shape the future of world heritage?  
  • How can we engage in the preservation and promotion of heritage? 
  • How can we increase the number of young people engaged? 

My name is Lena Eisenreich (24 yo), originally from the heart of Bavaria (Plattling). I have developed my cultural curiosity since I was a child with the dream of travelling to every country in the world and evolving myself in as many cultures as possible.  My approach to travel is to see a different country through interacting and becoming friends with locals and listening to their stories. Before visiting the main cities on my route, I had the chance to visit three amazing North African and middle-eastern countries. (Tunisia, Egypt, Lebanon)


three – harlingen -nph

We wake up, we pack, and we say bye.
Elena left in the morning to get back to Italy and she had a terrible 8 hours trip awaiting her because of strikes and delays.
I sat in my cabin contemplating Elena’s health, my options, and the feasibility of the trip but still decided to continue Navigandum per hereditatem.
The rest of the morning a part of the afternoon were devoted to cleaning up the boat and contacting every young sailor and heritage enthusiast possible, as well as trying to reach out to Elena’s contacts in the Netherlands hoping to find a travel companion for the following weeks.
Later in the afternoon, I decided to take the chance of visiting again Harlingen to discover more about its heritage, and I decided to start with the City Council Museum het Hannemahuis which I have never had the chance to explore. The Gemeentemuseum is located in the major street of the village and I only needed to walk a few minutes under the bluest sky I had seen in days.


After getting married to Liesbet Scheltema in 1744, the merchant Sjoerd Hannema moved into the house they had just purchased. He had a new front wall constructed. The right side of the building can still be identified by this bell gable. Another member of the Hannema family, Sjoerd Jacobus Hannema, was responsible for the construction of the left wing of the house in 1825. This wing featured a cornice. Leendert Jacobus Hannema was the last descendant of the Harlingen merchant family to live in this house. He was known as Jacobus. In 1957, he established a museum in a portion of his home that he owned. He passed away in 1964, leaving the house as a bequest to the city of Harlingen, which carried out the terms of the will by maintaining the museum in the residence. Objects that are closely related to the history and art history of Harlingen are collected and displayed. These objects include Harlinger tile and pottery, maritime objects, centuries-old paintings (such as Granida and Daifilo by Jacob Adriaensz Backer), photographs, silverware, various old documents, and furniture. In addition to that, there is a room named after Simon Vestdijk. In this section of the museum, in addition to a number of other items associated with the Harlingen-born author, visitors will have the opportunity to view his entire body of work in its first edition form.

on the visit

Entering the museum from the gift shop and passing into the original waiting room of the house suddenly made the reasons why I want to take this trip resurface. The meaningfulness of heritage sites and their impact on individuals and communities is invaluable, and the threat posed by climate change is real. Being Friday afternoon I did not manage to find a manager or senior employee of the Museum available to talk about its eventual adaptive strategies, therefore I simply enjoyed the visit.
The first room is devoted to the history of the city. Harlingen is one of the Friese elf steden, which are eleven cities in Friesland that received city rights in the 13th century and also serve as the name of the Elfstedentocht skating marathon. Harling is possibly the least Frisian of all of them, and few people speak Frisian as their native language. It is a charming little port town that became wealthy through fishing and trade. Numerous commercial boating routes continue to depart from here for Scandinavia and beyond. Some of the original fortifications, the canals, and a significant number of historic warehouses and mansions have withstood the test of time. Harlingen began to expand in the 12th century when monks from a nearby monastery dug canals to facilitate trade in the region. Harlingen was granted a city charter in 1234, as a result of the increased commerce. In contrast to the nearby university city of Franeker, the town remained of minor importance for several centuries. However, as the harbour expanded, so did Harlingen’s wealth and reputation. Today, the majority of shipping is associated with the transport of salt from the local salt factory, and the harbour (s) are the most vital part of the inner city. This information was displayed through physical historical artefacts and digital tools were accessible even to kids, sadly no English was available and it was the same for the whole exhibition.
After passing a beautiful garden containing statues by local artists, I reached the second room that was dedicated to a focus on the sailing traditions of the Netherlands and on their history in Harlingen. Skilled hands constructed ship models with fine ropes and miniature pulleys for both decoration and crew training. Shipowners also enjoyed having their vessels painted, preferably at sea with full sails. The ship portraits represent the owners’ pride. In addition to objects such as a figurehead and a foghorn, the maritime collection also contains stories such as that of Commander Klaas Hoekstra. According to his journal, he left for Greenland in 1825 in order to hunt whales. His brand-new galley ship shattered in the Arctic ice, but after a year filled with horrors, the crew returned to Harlingen despite being presumed long dead. Additionally, the merchant navy and admiralty are discussed, and sadly no information was available on the role of Harlingen in the slave trade.
Harlingen is the birthplace of the pottery industry in Friesland. This region has utilised the technique of tin glazing for over 400 years. The Hannemahuis provides an excellent representation of what Harlingen has produced in recent centuries, including loose tiles, tableaus, an earthenware colander with a harbour view, playful saying dishes, and much more. Harlingen was also one of the most significant centres in the Frisian silver tradition. I could see how much silversmiths had to offer in the silver room. Harlingen family Radsma served as “city clock players” for more than 250 years; they determined the daily rhythm in Harlingen. The museum’s clocks are true works of art: the dials are exquisitely crafted and painted, and the cabinets are glued with fine veneers, inlaid with flower and bird motifs, and topped by angels playing the trumpets.

gedachten aan zee

The Museum, in conjunction with the City Council, is undertaking the project known as “Thoughts of the Sea.” At the top of the Zuiderpier in Harlingen is where you will find the city’s post box. Hikers are encouraged to share their own personal reflections, poems, drawings, and love letters by posting them in the red container. Anyone who wishes can write down their “thoughts by the sea” and place them in the former PTT’s red letterbox to share their thoughts (anonymously). The mailbox is emptied once a week. The initial idea was to create an annual booklet filled with beautiful, unique, or amusing letterbox contributions, but now some can be seen in the exhibition, which features a large number of very personal messages that, at times, can be quite moving.
I was very touched by one contribution in particular which talks of the sea and how they see it changing not only daily basis or following the seasons, but how much harsher and more dangerous it became since they were a child.

Zee, zee, die elke dag verandert, als ik me omdraai en als ik terugkom.
Zee, zee, die verandert met de seizoenen je verspilt nooit tijd aan vrouwen en liedjes.
Zee, zee, stijgt en daalt wat is er met je bewuste ritme gebeurd?
Zee, zee, nu ben je hoger en hoger en sla je de dammen met een geschud ritme.
Zee, zee, verdwijnt soms en laat de kust kaal en droog achter.
Sinds ik een kind was, speelde ik en ik zag in jou een vriend om te respecteren, maar
oprecht, zee, nu herken ik jou en de veilige bronnen van het leven niet meer.
Zee, zee, wil je de haven binnengaan en de oudste relatie ter wereld vernietigen?
Ik zou misschien hetzelfde van ons moeten vragen, mannen die huilen wat je niet meer bent.

Sea, sea, which changes every day, when I turn around and when I come back.
Sea, sea, it changes with the seasons you never waste time on women and songs.
Sea, sea, rising and falling what happened to your conscious rhythm?
Sea, sea, now you’re higher and higher, hitting the dams with a shaken rhythm.
Sea, sea, sometimes disappears, leaving the coast bare and dry.
Since I was a child I played and I saw in you a friend to respect, but
sincere, sea, now I no longer recognize you and the safe springs of life.
Sea, sea, will you enter the harbour and destroy the oldest relationship in the world?
I should perhaps ask the same of us, men who cry what you are no longer.

good prospects

After the visit, I stayed a bit longer in the quiet library annexed to the museum working on notes and pictures from the previous day. In the meantime, I realized it rained and the sky was back to its deep grey. Walking back to Tetide and Mosè I received a positive message from a friend, Allegra Grillo, who was just looking for something to do after her gradu  ation in Law. She told me she would let me know, after having properly thought it over, if she would have joined me in Navigandum per hereditatem.