In the centre of a town in the middle of Friesland, stands an important piece of its history. A planetarium, almost hidden in plain sight, which spans three buildings and holds one of the most fantastic things I’ve ever seen is waiting to be discovered.
Last weekend we visited for the second time, the first time having been almost three years ago now on one of R and mine’s first dates.
This time we took the grandparents with.
They were interested in the history behind the world’s oldest working planetarium, and R, being the ever obliging tour guide for my family and friends who come and visit, gave them the run down.
Eise Eisinga was born in the small Frisian village of Donrijp in 1744. That’s 275 years ago, which considering what he did, is mind blowing. His main interests lay in mathematics and astronomy, even as a youngster, and this continued well into later life, even once he became a wool comber, which earned him and his family their keep.
In May 1774, panic ravaged the Dutch and Frisian people, when a preacher predicted the earth would be knocked off its course and burned up by the sun, caused by the forces of a special constellation that had suddenly been spotted in the sky. This special constellation was made up of Mercury, Venus, Mars, Jupiter and the moon, and managed to send the Netherlands into disarray.
In an attempt to calm the situation, Eise Eisinga took on the seemingly impossible task of creating a visual representation of the solar system. In order to bring rest amongst his people, he would go on to build a working replica of it in his very own living room. Luckily Eise’s wife, Pietje, was on board with his plans, and gave him a very reasonable 7 years to complete its build.
Today, Eise Eisinga’s living room is the centrepiece of the museum it lives inside.
His model is still in full working order, making it the oldest functioning planetarium in the world. That’s kind of fascinating if you think of just how old it is. It’s even more fascinating when you remember that back in the 18th century, there was no such thing as technology as we know it. This man truly had a fantastic mind and a wonderful talent and skill to get something like this up and running. For it to still be running today is simply magical (and yes I see the irony with that sentence).
It’s hard to believe that these pictures are of Eise and his family’s living room. Can you imagine your dad spending every night after work creating and painting such an important masterpiece in your own front room?
To me, one of the most fascinating things behind this whole solar system is that it still works in real time and progresses that little bit every day. The cogs and screws are all hidden away above the ceiling, which is also on view to the public:
Planning a visit
- If you fancy paying this tiny but mighty museum a visit, this is where you’ll find it, situated in the middle of the town centre of cute Frisian town Franeker.
- Opening times are:
- 10am until 5pm each Tuesday through to Saturday
- 11am until 5pm every Sunday.
- If you visit between April 1st and October 31st, the planetarium is also open on a Monday from 10am until 5pm
- Tickets will set you back:
- 5,50 for an adult ticket
- 4, 50 for children aged between 4 & 13
- FREE for children 3 years and under
- Eating at Brasserie De Stadshuis
- There is a wonderful cafe adjoined to the planetarium, which serves full on meals, as well as proper Dutch snacks at pretty good prices.
- As you can see, I enjoyed a bloody lovely kroket lunch, which I would definitely recommend, as well as their delicious tosti’s.
What about you? Have you visited any planetariums? Have you visited this planetarium?
For us it’s a solid 9/10 visit – we will most definitely be heading back for a third visit one day, especially if one of those lunches is involved!