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Middle Eastern hall at the Zwartemarkt
(Netherlands: North Holland)

December 2002
Netherlands: North Holland: Middle Eastern hall at the Zwartemarkt

Every Saturday and Sunday, a collection of warehouses across the railroad tracks from the center of Beverwijk turns into Europe's largest indoor market. Mostly the stuff for sale is pretty mundane, and it really wouldn't be worth the trip for anyone who didn't have a linen closet to stock.

However, way at the back you'll find the Oosterse Markt, four adjacent buildings connected to the Netherlands by some sort of transdimensional portal straight to the Middle East.

Inside here, the call to prayer rings out every few hours, and when it does, the old men in their skullcaps dutifully head to the mosque in the back. Arabic music plays, and the scents of Turkish and Moroccan cooking fill the air. There are about a dozen restaurants inside, plus aisles of spice merchants, baklava and nut stalls, and Turkish bakeries (try the bread fresh and warm from the bakery; it's amazing).

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