Potatoes and pilgrims

Het Bildt is relatively new land. The inpoldering began in early 1505 and took about two and half centuries. The result was rich agricultural land perfect for cultivating, for example, bildtstar potatoes.

Proud of culture

The farmers in Het Bildt are not just proud of their crops, they also have their own unique culture and way of life. The region even has its own language which betrays the influence of the 'Hollanders' who reclaimed the land from the Middelzee. Life was very difficult for the mudflat workers as they reclaimed the land from the sea shovel by shovel. The Slikwerk artists guild pays tribute to their labour. The member artists are inspired by the vastness of Het Bildt, the marshes and the farmland behind. Discover the hidden magic of this unique landscape. The Aerdenplaats in Oudebildtzijl has a permanent exhibition hall where you too will be inspired by these artists. Admire Janny Vellinga's photos hanging in the Wadden hall at Aerdenplaats. Absolutely inspiring in real life. But you can also take them with you, bundled together with her poems. The book takes you on a journey along the entire coast of Northwest Friesland. 

For the Sense of Place art route photographers Linette Raven and story writer Ellen Schat asked the current farmers what stories they wanted to tell about the land they cultivate. The result is the Bildtstars en Eigenheimers route with ten amazing mega portraits of Raven, on farm roofs, walls and sheds. You can view them with an audio route with additional stories by Schat read by the poet Syds Wiersma.

Santiago on the Wadden

It's not just artists who enjoy being guided through the space and vistas of Het Bildt. The name also has an intriguing ring to it for walkers. According to a chronicle from 1124 a road of stars from the Frisian coast to Galicia appeared to Charlemagne in a dream. In the dream Jacob promised him that pilgrims would travel from sea to sea until the end of time. When a new village was created by reclaiming land from the sea on the coast it was given the name St. Jacobiparochie. It became a starting point for one of the many European pilgrimage routes to Santiago de Compostela. 

You'll find an information centre about the pilgrimage route in the eye-catching yellow Groate Kerk in the village. Climb the spiral staircase in the church's vestibule up to the small library. Every second Saturday of the month you can pick up your official pilgrim passport and then collect stamps which give you access to the refugios (sleeping accommodations) along the route.

In Friesland you can spend the night in several churches which serve as refugios. From Jacobiparochie you can take a western route via Franeker and an eastern route via Leeuwarden. The routes rejoin about fifteen kilometres south of Leeuwarden, near Jirnsum.

Route: Bildtstars & Eigenheimers

Bildtstars and Eigenheimers is a photo and story route along the Wadden coast, past giant portrait photographs of potato farmers in the middle of the landscape.

Distance: 54,3 kilometers | Length: 3 hours and 10 minutes

View the route

Route: Archeological Wad Friesland

This archaeological route starts and ends in Firdgum. A very small village, but on four mounds.

Distance: 59,3 kilometers | Length: 3 hours and 30 minutes

View the route

Read more? - Also discover these stories about Ode to the Landscape

Don't miss a thing!

Receive the latest news, the best stories and the best routes from VisitWadden.