Across the river from the Zaanse Schans, in Zaandijk, riverside Lagedijk is a well-preserved example of an old-style Zaanstreek street. At its northern end, the Honig Breethuis, a merchant's house from 1706 furnished in Old Zaan style, holds the Zaans Historisch Museum, Lagedijk 80 (tel. 075/621-7626; www.honigbreethuis.nl). Paintings, furnishings, religious items, traditional costumes, Chinese porcelain, and more afford an idea about life in the Zaan district around this period. The museum is open April to September Tuesday to Friday and Sunday from 1 to 5pm, and October to March Tuesday to Friday and Sunday from 1:30 to 4pm. Admission is 3€ ($4.80) for adults, 2€ ($3.20) for seniors, and 1.50€ ($2.40) for children 13 and under.
Adjoining Koog aan de Zaan to the south, Zaandam, the Zaanstreek's main town, was an important shipbuilding center in the 17th century. In 1697, Czar Peter the Great of Russia worked incognito for a few days at a Zaandam shipyard as "Peter Mikhailov," studying the Dutch shipbuilding methods, which the avid nautical student considered the world's finest. He stayed at the humble timber home of a local blacksmith, Gerrit Kist. The Czaar Peterhuisje, Krimp 23-24 (tel. 075/616-2862), is the oldest surviving house of the Zaan district. In 1895, Czar Nicholas II had it enclosed inside a brick shelter. It contains souvenirs of Peter's stay, including an exhibit on his life, the small bed into which the "Czar of All the Russias" squeezed his 2.1m (7-ft.) frame, and displays recounting the history of the district and of shipbuilding on the Zaan. Peter visited Zaandam again in 1698 and twice in 1717, each time paying Kist a visit. The house is open Tuesday to Friday from 10am to 1pm and 2 to 5:30pm, and Saturday and Sunday from 1 to 5pm. Admission is 4€ ($6.40) for adults, 2€ ($3.20) for children ages 4 to 12, and free for children 3 and under. A statue of Peter at work on a ship stands on Damplein, the town's main square.