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Fryslân: Discover the Dark

Fryslân (Friesland) is one of the 12 Dutch provinces which lies in the northern part of The Netherlands and has Leeuwarden as capital city. Fryslân includes several islands as well, with Vlieland, Terschelling, Ameland and Schiermonnikoog as the most famous ones.

For this trip I didn't go to the islands, but stayed on the mainland to 'Discover the Dark' because Fryslân has something special which no other province in The Netherlands has! There are 117 certified Dark Sky Parks in the world, and two of them are situated in Fryslân (De Boschplaat and Lauwersmeer). I went to National Park Lauwersmeer to experience it myself, and was very impressed to observe Friesland by night.

Discover The Dark, Friesland


But before this nocturnal adventure could take place we went to the city of Franeker, one of the eleven historical cities of Fryslân. Close to the City Hall (which dates back from 1594) lies one of the most interesting museums of the area, hidden in an eighteenth century canal house.

City Hall Franeker, Friesland

In this canal house it is possible to learn more about our solar system and admire the oldest working planetarium (orrery) in the world. It is built out of wood by Eise Eisinga between 1774 and 1781 in the ceiling of his own living room. In my opinion it is very impressive to see how this scale model still runs accurately like clockwork for the last 239 years...

Planetarium Eise Eisinga in Franeker, Friesland

Planetarium Eise Eisinga in Franeker, Friesland

Planetarium Eise Eisinga in Franeker, Friesland

After your visit you can once more take a step back in time at the Brasserie De Stadstuin which is located next door to the Planetarium. The art nouveau interior is left untouched since a coffee-roasting house opened its doors here in 1881.

Coffee at Brasserie De Stadstuin, Franeker

Brasserie De Stadstuin, Franeker

Afterwards we went to Aerden Plaats in Oude Bildtzijl for an awesome dinner. Not only because of the food, but as well because of the unique location. This former church, along a dike in the middle of the Fryslân countryside, was the perfect setting for a cosy dinner. Here we got a prelude for Verhalenavond which will take place in many cities and towns in Fryslân on the 15th of November. It is a tribute to the old days where people got together in living rooms and cafes to tell each other stories. I think it is a beautiful initiative to revive these traditions and to keep them alive.

Dinner at Aerden Plaats in Oude Bildtzijl, Friesland

Aerden Plaats in Oude Bildtzijl, Friesland

Dinner at Aerden Plaats in Oude Bildtzijl, Friesland

At 22:00 we stepped (without a flashlight!) into the darkness of Dark Sky Park Lauwersmeer. Jaap (a guide form Staatsbosbeheer) guided us through the forest, and in the meantime he told us a lot about our impressive galaxy and pointed out several groups of stars. After a couple of minutes my eyes adapted to the lack of light and I started to see more and more stars. Even the Milky Way was very clear to see! For me it was the first time to walk through a forest with only the light of stars and the moon. And it actually felt like quite a liberating experience. I took this picture with a slow shutter speed, high ISO and wide aperture.

Stars at Lauwersmeer Friesland

See my blog post 'Terschelling in 48 hours' to read about my experience at Dark Sky Park 'De Boschplaat'.


Waking up early has its perks! As this weekends theme was 'Discover the Dark' I got up early to roam the empty streets of Dokkum before sunrise. At daybreak this boat looked extra stunning because of the reflections of the lights.

Dokkum Friesland

Just after sunrise I went back to the B&B for a delicious breakfast.

I've stayed at Het Gasthuysje by Booking Dokkum, a cosy and stylish room with a private terrace in front of it. Breakfast is served at the room in a picnic basket.

Breakfast at B&B 't Gastenhuysje in Dokkum, Friesland

B&B 't Gastenhuysje in Dokkum, Friesland


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Please note: I was invited by Visit Friesland to be part of the kick-off event of 'Discover the Dark' to experience Friesland by night.


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