The city of Schiedam has 75,000 inhabitants. The cityscape is known for its five windmills, which are among the tallest in the world, and some of which can be visited. Schiedam is happy to refer to itself as the ”City of Windmills and Schnapps Distilleries”.
To this day, outstanding Jenever (gin) is produced in the city in accordance with tradition, and with a certificate of authenticity. The National Jenevermuseum alongside a canal in the city center is always worth a visit. Dotted around are various former distilleries that have been transformed into residential buildings, or which accommodate upmarket businesses, restaurants, bars and street cafés. The city is effused with a charming green hue that seems to come from every direction. The Old Town of Schiedam is filled with medieval flair, and is called the ”Oude Sluis”. The pretty façades of the houses and the paved streets with nostalgic street lights will entice you to take a stroll.
The city was founded around the year 1260 on behalf of Lady Adelaide, sister of William II of Holland. She ordered that a castle be built for her near the Schie. The settlement also gained a church, a hospital, and in 1275, was granted city rights. Later, the castle was the seat of Dirk van Mathenesse, a descendent of the city’s founder. Many buildings and streets in the city bear the name Mathenesse today. By 1552, the former fishing village had become a lively harbour town. The first Schnapps distilleries emerged in around 1590. The alcohol trade blossomed and brought affluence to the city in the second half of the 18th Century. It was during this period that the wealthy distillers built themselves magnificent manor houses, which today are classified as protected monuments. In 1875, even Schiedam could not escape the effects of the European agricultural crisis. Production of Jenever fell drastically. Schiedam underwent a period of bitter poverty between roughly 1890 and 1950. The city seemed to dwindle out of existence. After the Second World War, however, Schiedam benefits from the development of harbour operations in Rotterdam. Social suffering disappeared and the metal and shipbuilding industries brought a long-desired upturn in fortunes.
Education and culture
The education system in Schiedam extends only as far as the end of secondary school. The nearest universities and colleges are located in nearby Rotterdam, Leiden and Utrecht. Schiedam’s art schools are tried and tested institutes. Several hundred students are enrolled at the Vlaardinger Music School. The city’s theatre and ballet schools are also in high demand.
Schiedam’s galleries and studios are filled to the rafters with modern art and classical paintings. The Stedlijk Musuem hosts the famous ”CoBrA: The Colour of Freedom” collection in all its splendour and in its entirety. The city’s main festival in June is held in the city center and boasts numerous open-air shows and theatre performances.
Economy and tourism
Schiedam is situated in the heart of the largest shipyard facility in the world. Shipyards and other companies associated with the port at Rotterdam, as well as alcohol companies (for Jenever), are of great significance for the city’s economy. Hundreds of businesses in the trade, transportation, communication and tourism sectors offer their highly-qualified services in the city. New railway networks, road intersections and the Benelux Tunnel constantly add to the area’s business activity. In Schiedam, there are no limits on innovation.