It was in 1897 when Douwe Gaastra founded his sail making company under the name of “D. Gaastra Zeilmakerij“ in the heart of the Dutch province Friesland. The historical city Sneek is deeply connected to the brand Gaastra. Originated in the mediaeval, the city counts around 30.000 habitants and due to its location close to the North Sea many small canals find their way through Sneek, as it is well known from the capital Amsterdam. With many specialised shops, cafés, restaurants, museums and historical buildings, the birth city of Gaastra is definitely worth a sightseeing tour. For a long time, Sneek used to be the only fortress in Friesland because in 1492 the city became fully walled.
One part of this wall is “de Waterport“- the famous Sneeker Waterport. In 1613 a total of five of these ports have been built, but to this day, only the one that bridges the Geeuw in Sneek and which used to protect the harbour entrance, is still standing. The two slender towers with pitched roofs and ornaments of bricks which are decorated with sandstone turn this building into an extraordinary one and the city’s landmark. At the same time, it is the unmistakable logo of Gaastra. Sneek is associated with Gaastra not only through Douwe Gaastras heritage but also because the city is famous for its water sports.
Apart from the Waterport, Sneek has many more buildings which are worth seeing. Sneeks town hall has been built in the 15th century, the Martinikerk even earlier: built around 1100, it had to be completely renovated after its collapse in 1681. Moreover, there are a few houses from the 17th and 18th century along the canal Kleinzand which are worth visiting. Besides the historical buildings, one can inform himself about the naval architecture and shipping from the 17th to 20th century in the Frisian “Schifffahrtsmuseum” or visit the national model railroad museum.
Every year in the beginning of August the royal association for water sports organizes the Sneekweek. This regatta is a special event, not only due to its sailing competitions but also for the unique, festive mood. “Honour by day, atmosphere by night”- with this motto the Sneekweek emphasizes its combination of sailing and festivities as during this week a fun fair and smaller street markets take place next to the sailing races. Gaastra takes part in sponsoring the regatta and offers a special polo shirt collection designed for the Sneekweek. But Sneek is not only worth a visit in the summer. Another cultural event, which takes place in the winter, is the “Elfstedentocht”, a speed skating marathon on frozen drainage channels, rivers and lakes. In 1909 the 200 km long race has been organised for the first time and attracts up to 17.000 speed skaters and 1.5 million viewers. Annually, participants and viewers are awaiting the winter full of expectation, because since 1997, the “Elfstedentocht” could not take place due to insufficient weather conditions. We are curious about what this year’s winter will bring us!
But what would be an exciting discovery tour without a restaurant with strengthening meals or a café in a cosy atmosphere for a little break in between? That is another aspect with which Sneak can shine. “De Kajuit” is an insider’s tip for the sailors among us. Offering a wide range of meals in a rustic ambiance you can enjoy warm and cold plates, meat and fish specialitiesas well as lunch and dinner. This is a restaurant with a relaxing lounge and view on the yacht harbour, which you can watch from the heated veranda. The best of it: After a long day at sea you can just dock your boat to the harbour and finish off the evening with a great dinner. A good choice for the small hunger in between is the Royaal Belegd where you can enjoy a coffee with a view on the Waterport in a young and modern ambiance. Managed and furnished with the love for small details, the Royaal Belegd offers homemade products, from lunch to breakfast to afternoon tea with cake, everything that the culinary heart desires! Very centrally seated is De Kastanje, a restaurant with excellent food and courteous staff. The menu offers a smaller range of dishes; hence they are prepared even more lovingly.
Sneek is a city which offers attractions and sightseeing for everyone and definitely always worth a visit!