In early medieval times the area north of the IJssel delta was a wooded wilderness where goats and deer roamed free. Flora and fauna alike were swallowed whole by the All Saint's flood of 1170.
A century later a ragtag band of flagellants was forced to settle here. Working the land, they dug up lots of horns (hoorn), mostly from goats (giet), and so the name Giethoorn came into being. Today these horns are still present in the town's coat of arms.
For the next centuries, the economy was
based on peak digging for which scores of canals were dug and the village was moved eastward several times.
Storms in the 18th and 19th century turned much of the lower area into shallow lakes like the Bovenwijde.
In the 20th century a shift was made to agriculture and reed cutting, but even today the old canals remain the main source of transportation.
This has made Giethoorn the ultimate rural idyll which draws scores of tourists, in 2019 a million or so from China alone.
We visited Giethoorn in May 2021 to explore by boat this picturesque village and the watery surroundings.