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Giethoorn: The Enchanting Town Without Streets

March 20, 2012

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Known in the Netherlands as the “Venice of the North,” the picturesque Giethoorn is a town with nary a road to be found. Instead, over four miles of canals run through the Overijssel province’s rural village.

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First settled by Franciscan monks in the thirteenth century, Giethoorn initially served as part of a large nature reserve. The monks had the canals dug for transporting peat and are only about one meter deep.

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Currently, Giethoorn is home to less than 3,000 people, most of whom reside in private islands. The main means of transportation through the canals are via a punt, canoe, kayak, or whisper boat (aptly named for its inconspicuously silent motor that doesn’t disrupt the peace). All of the canals are quite narrow, and there are also many wooden foot bridges to cross them. Contrary to the extensive presence of canals, there are also numerous cycling and walking paths and the area is generally regarded as a prime location for skaters in winter.

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