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Fryslan, commonly known as Friesland, is one of the Netherlands' provinces, located in the northern part of the country, on the shores of the North Sea and IJsselmeer Lake. The province lies to the west of Groningen, northwest of Drenthe and Overijssel, north of Flevoland, northeast of North Holland, and south of the Wadden Sea. Leeuwarden, Friesland's capital city, can be found in the central part of the province. The capital is known for the leaning tower, Oldehove, located in the city center. There are eleven cities within Friesland's borders in total. Contrary to typical definitions, the places defined as "cities" in Friesland are generally smaller than "villages." This is because many of the cities bear a historical significance of some kind, granting them this distinction. The towns are connected by an event called the 11-cities-tour—an activity that takes place during winter when the waterways connecting the 11 cities freeze over and are used for ice skating. The landscape of Friesland comprises mostly sandy heathland with clay marshlands and polders. However, four national parks are located within the province's borders. Moreover, the UNESCO-protected Wadden Sea area is part of Friesland as well.
Leeuwarden, located in the central part of the province, is the capital city of Friesland. The city has a historical center, which was voted the "European Capital of Culture" in 2018. Some of the recommended sights in the city include Blokhuispoort, a business center housed in the historical building of the former prison, the Frisian Museum of Natural History, the Grote of Jacobijnerkerk— which is the oldest church in the city—and the Fries Museum, to name a few. There are also natural areas and parks within the city, such as De Koperen Tuin, (otherwise known as the green heart of Leeuwarden), housing the museum of Frisian sculptor Pier Pander. However, Leeuwarden is probably known the best for the Oldehove. Standing since 1529, the tower became an icon of the city as it leans more than the Leaning Tower of Pisa. Oldehove is open to the public, featuring a lift and stairs, providing views of the surrounding historic city of Leeuwarden. Another of the historical cities within the Friesland province's borders is Franeker. The city is known for having the oldest continually functional planetarium in the world. An accurately moving model of the solar system built in the 18th century is suspended from the ceiling of the living room of a canal house in historical Franeker. Apart from the historical model, the museum also offers a collection of astronomical instruments and an exhibition about our solar system and the universe.
There are eleven cities in Friesland in total. Often the cities are smaller than the villages scattered across the region, as the status of "city" has been awarded based on the historical significance of the settlement rather than size. The towns are connected by art installations found in each one of them, called 11Fountains. In 2018, eleven internationally renowned artists gave each of the eleven towns a unique waterwork featuring fog, ice, steam, seawater, etc. The fountains became an attraction in each of the respective cities. Apart from the art installations, the eleven cities are connected by the 11-cities-tour, which is an international ice skating event. The 11-cities-tour is held during the winter when all the water through and between the eleven cities of Friesland is frozen.
In addition to historical and cultural heritage, Friesland can also offer a considerable number of outdoor activities. Boating on local lakes or canals is one such option. Tourists can also enjoy mudflat hiking to the West Frisian Islands. Walking to some of the islands is reportedly possible during the tide. There are several cycling trails found in the Fryslan province as well.
Fryslan, or Friesland, is a coastal province of the northern Netherlands located on the shores of the North Sea. Friesland extends along the inland IJsselmeer Lake and the North Sea, with the West Frisian Islands also belonging to the province. System of canals, waterways and lakes drain Fryslan's territory. Some of the largest lakes include Tjeukemeer, Slotermeer, Fluessen, and Sneekermeer. The surface of Friesland province is relatively flat, rarely exceeding 15 meters above sea level. The highest elevation point is the peak of a dune on the island of Vlieland, with an altitude of 45 meters above sea level. The local landscape is composed of sandy heathland bordered by fans supporting woodlands and orchards. Between the fens and coast stretches flat clay marshlands and polders. The basis of the region's economy is agriculture, with potatoes, wheat, and sugar beets being the main crops.
There are four national parks scattered across the Fryslan region. Additionally, the UNESCO World Heritage Site, the Wadden Sea, is part of the Friesland nature as well. UNESCO protects the Wadden Sea as it is the largest tidal area on earth. With a diverse landscape of gullies, slots, dunes, and plains, Wadden is home to over 10,000 different plant and animal species. Beyond that, approximately 12 million migratory birds fly to the Wadden Sea area annually. Species such as pink flamingos can be spotted in the area. Thus, bird-watching is among the predominant attractions in the Wadden Sea. Lauwersmeer, Schiermonnikoog, Drents-Friese Wold, and Alde Faenen are the names of four national parks located within Friesland province's borders. All of the national parks are open to the public, providing outdoor recreational opportunities for tourists. The protected nature tends to consist of a variety of woods, coastlines, heathland, peat bogs, and moors.
Located on the shores of the North Sea, Fryslan has an oceanic climate. Regarding the average temperatures in Fryslan province's capital, Leeuwarden, the warmest month is August, with an average daily temperature of 22°C. Reportedly, January is the coldest month, with 5°C being the average temperature. April tends to be the driest month in Leeuwarden due to having 37 mm of rainfall on average. The most precipitation falls during August, receiving about 94 mm on average.
Friesland territory has been inhabited since ancient times. What is now presently known as Friesland was formerly part of a larger historical region called Frisia, which included several German territories as well. In prehistoric times, Frisians migrated to the coast of the North Sea and ousted the local Celtic population. A considerable part of the land they settled was then covered by lakes and estuaries. Over time, Frisians protected themselves against the sea by building terps. Between the 1st and the 5th century CE, Frisia's territory was tributary to Roman Empire. Later, the lands were infiltrated by the Angles and Saxons and were finally conquered by the Franks under Charlemagne's rule. During that time, the Frisian population was converted to Christianity. In the following centuries, Frisia became divided into several regions: West Frisia, Middle Frisia, and East Frisia. The division of Frisia took place around the 15th century when the only part that retained its independence was Friesland. Groningen, which is part of Frisia, became dominated by the city of Groningen. The Archbishop of Bremen-Hamburg and the king of Denmark conquered other considerable parts of Frisia. Eventually, in the 1490s, Friesland was conquered as well by Duke Albert of Saxony-Meissen.
With the Peace of Münster in 1648, Frisia's lands became part of the independent Dutch Republic. Friesland was then ranked next to the province of Holland and Zeeland in economic and political importance. However, after the Batavian Revolution, in 1798, Frisia has divided again between the Eems and Oude IJssel departments. The division lasted only until 1802. After the defeat of Napoleon in 1813, a new constitution was introduced. In 1814, Friesland became a province of the Sovereign Principality of the United Netherlands, then of the unitary Kingdom of the Netherlands a year later.
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