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Why the Netherlands’ Newest UNESCO Site is a Must-See for Families

by Eugenia Lazaris

Nov 20, 2023

© Hilda Weges | Dreamstime.com

Destinations / Europe

The Netherlands is home to several fascinating UNESCO World Heritage sites, including the newest addition, Eisinga Planetarium. Gaining this prestigious distinction this past September, the planetarium is located in the city of Franeker in the Friesland province.


Unlike modern planetariums where the skies are generally projected onto the ceiling, Eisinga Planetarium, which dates back to the late 1700s, is an actual moving model built into the ceiling of the maker’s canal home. Today the home is a museum, welcoming visitors to view this attraction.


Families visiting the museum not only get to experience the beauty of Franeker with its charming landscape and distinctive Dutch architecture, but also have the opportunity to introduce the kids to astronomy. The model of the solar system at this unique planetarium is not only beautifully handcrafted in stunning hues of blue and gold, but also built to scale and moves in real time, an amazing feat for Eising, only an amateur astronomer (his full-time profession was wool comber, someone who combs sheared wool to prepare it for spinning).


The model, the oldest working one of its type in the world, was created using only knowledge of the solar system available in the 18th century. It features the moon, Earth and five additional planets (Mercury, Venus, Mars, Jupiter and Saturn) rotating around the sun. There are also numerous other astronomical instruments on display, interactive exhibits and a café where you can grab a coffee or a light snack.


Tickets for the museum cost about $6.50 for teens and adults and about $5.45 for children 13 and under. The museum is open year-round with the exception of Christmas and New Year’s Day.


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