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There are so many museums, large and small, that it's necessary to set priorities for which ones to visit. We've toured a bakery museum in Medemblik, a prison museum in Enkhuizen, and town halls in several areas. We could have visited a ships-in-bottles museum in Enkhuizen, a toy museum in Hoorn, and a cooking museum in Alkmaar.

Radboud Castle

Medemblik's Radboud Castle was built by Count Floris V of Holland towards the end of the 13th century as one of a series of castles built in North Holland.  The building, which is the only castle of the series remaining, and only as a part of its former grandeur, was strengthened by huge wooden beams. It has been used for governance, as a prison, and as a shelter, but not as a residence for nobility. Its name comes from an 8th century king who once inhabited a castle on the same spot. This room is called the Great Hall.

The largest museum on the IJsselmeer is called the Zuiderzee Museum, located in Enkhuizen. Housed in the former buildings of the Dutch East India Company, the museum is huge, with collections describing the fishing, furniture, culture, architecture and other characteristics of coastal life. While the indoor museum is quite large, the outdoor museum is one-of-a-kind. About 130 original 17th century buildings, including houses, shops, offices and a church were collected and placed in the outdoor museum. While you walk around, people make rope or baskets from plant fronds, work with wood, bake bread, or smoke herring. All of these products are available for sale. It's very reminiscent of Williamsburg, Virginia, of course, but here you can also read about where each house used to be and who owned it.

At right, the indoor museum holds the world's largest collection of Dutch sailing craft. Above, the town looks like many of the towns we see along the coast, but these houses are all imported. Below, the herring is smoked in an old, genuine smoker.

In Hoorn, the Westfrisian Museum is in a beautiful 1632 building where the delegates from the seven most important towns of West Friesland used to meet. These officials apparently liked to have their portraits painted to memorialize the meetings, and there are several striking examples here in the Assembly Room.

Another important building in every town is the Waag or Weigh House, where cheese came to market. We saw Weigh Houses in Enkhiuizen, Alkmaar, Monnickendam, and Hoorn. This 1609 building in Hoorn today houses a restaurant; the first floor dining room still has a generous number of weights and scales hanging from the ceiling and resting on the floor.

The statue in the main square commemorates Jan Pieterszoon Coen, a high-ranking official of the Dutch East Company and the founder of Jakarta, who governed the island from 1617 until his death in 1629. His efforts helped to establish Holland's empire in the East Indies.