In the thirteenth century monks from the Mariengarde monastery in Friesland established an order on the island. Their main source of income was farming and husbandry. To protect themselves from the sea the islanders built dikes around the island and the houses were raised above the low lying land. In the fourteenth century the dikes were breached regularly and the sea water washed over the farmland. The inhabitants of Marken developed a fishing industry, but when the Afsluitdike was completed in 1932 this signalled an end to these activities.
Distinctive regional costume
For more than a century this former fishing village has been an important tourist attraction. the distinctive local costume has played a part in this, but also the characteristic wooden houses on stilts and the werfs which are artificially raised areas of land where houses were built in groups. Today there are still fifteen werfs, twelve of which are still inhabited. On the werfs small, simple, wooden houses are built very close together. Walking between the wooden houses, over drawbridges and through small alleyways, gives the feeling of going back in time!
Visit the Marken museum.
The museum is located six historic houses in the old village centre. One part has kept its original layout and is furnished in the style of a typical fishing family from 1932. There are authentic touches such as the whitewashed walls, hung with plates and prints; the sets of boxes for storing pieces of the traditional Marken costume; the open hearth, the rain water barrel, the cupboard bed and the painted cupboards. As well as this, there is a textile collection, a unique collection of traditional costumes, paintings by Reinier Peijnenburg and painted work by Jan Moenis such as hat boxes, clogs, and school slates
Most of the restaurants in Marken can be found around the harbour area. The village does not really lend itself to an excursion round the bars.