[From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia]
Volendam (Dutch pronunciation: [ˌvoʊ̯.lən.ˈdɑm]) is a town in North Holland in the Netherlands, in the municipality of Edam-Volendam. The town has about 22,000 inhabitants (November 2007).
Originally, Volendam was the location of the harbor of the nearby Edam, which was situated at the mouth of the IJ bay. In 1357, the inhabitants of Edam dug a shorter canal to the Zuiderzee with its own separate harbor. This removed the need for the original harbor, which was then dammed and used for land reclamation. Farmers and local fishermen settled there, forming the new community of Vollendam, which literally meant something like ‘Filled dam’. In the early part of the 20th century it became something of an artists’ retreat, with both Picasso and Renoir spending time here. The majority of the population belongs to the Roman Catholic Church, which is deeply connected to the village culture. Historically, many missionaries and bishops grew up in Volendam. Today there is the chapel of Our Lady of the Water of the controversial ‘visionary’ Mrs Hille Kok, which is located in a village park.
In the New Year’s night of 2000 to 2001, the lighting of a bundle of sparklers caused a short but intense fire at a party in café De Hemel. The sparklers ignited the dry Christmas decorations on the ceiling, which fell down in their entirety. 14 people died and 200 people were seriously injured.