Overijssel, The Netherlands
Province of Overijssel is a mainland province to the South of the Province of Drenthe at the East of the country. Overijssel has several beautiful natural reserve parks but today this bordering Germany province is heavy populated with active industries and services.
Overijssel has a rich past. There was a time, just at the end of the Middle ages, that one of the province biggest cities Deventer has been bigger than Amsterdam. Apart from the province capital – old Hanseatic town of Zwolle, other important cities are academic town of Enschede, industrial Almelo, already mentioned Deventer, and Kampen.
The old city of Kampen located on the Ijssel river, which gave the name to the province (Overijssel translates to "on the other bank of Ijssel"), has more than 500 registered historical monuments. Centuries ago a harbor, protected from the South by the Ijssel river, from the other sides by the strong city walls. Until today fortified, mediaeval city gates of Kampen can be visited. During the war between the Hansa (union of the mostly German cities of Northern Europe) with Holland in the middle of 15 century, Kampen has chosen for the more powerful side of Hansa. Today, apart from it monuments, Kampen is known for its cigars and you may find in the city Tabaksmuseum – Museum of the Tobacco.
The most important natural reserve areas are De Weeribben (North-West of the Province of Overijssel), Los Hoos (near Ootmarsum – East of the Province of Overijssel) and Oomen (near small town of Ommen).
Near De Weeribben lays Giethoorn, a small village which is a quintessence of the Dutch rural life. Established in 1230, built at the side of the lake, along a small canal and a road and with houses built on both sides and small bridges leading to each house over the small canals Giethoorn is a real tourist attraction. Visitors may see Giethoorn from boats. Several of them move silently (they are powered with electricity) through the small canals crossing the village and nearby natural habitat with several full of wild birds. Giethoorn is seen by the Dutch as the most beautiful village of the whole country ("leukse dorp van Nederland" - prettiest village of the Netherlands).