The island of Terschelling, in the North Sea, can be reached from Harlingen by motor launch or car ferry (advance booking for cars advisable); the crossing takes 2 hours. The island, 28km/17mi long with a total area of 9,500 hectares/23,750 acres, is the second largest of the West Frisian islands. Most of its area is occupied by nature reserves - the sandy Noordwaarder area at the west end and the better known Boschplaat (4,400 hectares/11,000 acres), a wooded area to the northeast. Along the north coast are numerous beaches.
The chief place on the island is West- Terschelling, where the ferries put in. Here and in the Midsland area to the northeast (handsome gabled houses) are the commandeurshuizen (sea-captains' houses) in which the captains of the whaling fleet lived. The Brandaris lighthouse, 54m/177ft high, was built in 1595; its light is visible for up to 40km/25mi. Until the installation of an electric projector in 1920 the light was provided by a large beacon. Near the lighthouse is the cemetery, with the graves of countless seamen.
The Municipal Museum, 't Behouden Huys, is named after the hut in which the navigator and discoverer Willem Barentsz spent the winter of 1596-97. Barentsz was born on Terschelling about 1555. In 1594, while looking for the Northeast Passage to India, he discovered the west coast of Novaya Zemlya, a group of islands in the Arctic Ocean, and on his third voyage, in 1596, he discovered Spitzbergen and Bear Island. When his ship was caught in the ice he wintered on Novaya Zemlya in a makeshift hut made from timber from his ship; he survived the winter but died on the way home in the following spring. His journal was discovered in 1871.In front of the museum are stoeppalen (piles supporting a pavement or walkway).
Terschelling Pictures View All