Netherlands // The eastern Netherlands //


Easily the most interesting town on the Noordoostpolder is Urk, a burgeoning harbour, shipyard and fishing port, where a series of narrow lanes – and tiny terraced houses – indicate the extent of the old village before it was topped and tailed by new housing estates. Before it became part of the mainland, centuries of hardship and isolation had bred a tight-knit island community, one that had a distinctive dialect and its own version of the national costume. Most of Urk’s individuality may have gone, but its earlier independence does still resonate, rooted in a fishing industry that marks it out from the surrounding agricultural communities. One Urk peculiarity that remains today is its addresses: traditionally the village was divided into areas called “Wijks”, though nowadays the streets also have names – the tourist office, therefore, is at both Raadhuisstraat 2 and/or Wijk 2-2.

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