Island of Marken
The island of Marken is a typical Dutch tourist attraction but also an isle with a rich past that tells a tale of Dutch history, politics and adaptation.
The beginnings of an island started to form in the late Middle Ages and a handful of monks decided to settle in some of these squashy swamps around 1300 AD. Still battling the frequent floods and storms, they managed to set up a simple monastery and dedicated their time to farming and livestock, making a living in their spare time between praying and -I guess- brewing delicious beers. In the course of a century, trade with nearby towns started to grow and their modest undertaking turned into a rich business which enabled them to build better dikes and a keep the ever-threatening floods out of their holy swamp.
Almost predictably, their hard-earned wealth and prosperity caught the attention of the local ruler who invariably was in need of money. Soon the monks were kicked out under a false pretence; their possessions and land divided among incompetent new owners. Sure enough, the island was soon sinking deep into swampland and poverty again because nobody had the will, organization or knowledge to keep the water out like the monks did with their daily care and dedication.
The small new local population literally managed to keep their heads above the water by building tiny houses on poles and specialized in fishing since there was nothing much else to do with the lands that were far too wet for proper farming.
The community grew slowly over the course of the centuries, until early 20th century when the newly built Afsluitdijk turned the rich Southern Sea into the present-day IJsselmeer-lake that ended the fishing industry for Marken.
Fortunately, the island remained isolated enough to keep her own identity while still being connected to the mainland of West-Friesland to prevent total poverty and segregation.
Today, about half a million tourists visit the small town of Marken every year. Dutch, Germans, Koreans and Japanese are dropped in by busloads to take a selfie or two and spend some money on local souvenir shops.
If only those medieval monks would have known that seven centuries later, people would travel across the globe to come spend their wealth here in their soggy hamlet.. their muddy swamp that rose and fell through mud and poverty across the centuries, only to become one of the most visited tourist attractions in The Netherlands in the 21st century.