It’s impossible to picture the Netherlands without windmills! and since my parents are here, we wanted them to see what holland is famous for. so we brought them to kinderdijk.
Because large parts of the netherlands are reclaimed parts of water, about 70% of the country is below sea level. the impact which this has on the dutch drainage system is huge! the draining of the country doesnt take place the normal way, this causes that all the water from rain which falls on the country stays. so in order to prevent the dutch inhabitants from drowning a large drainage system was formed. a system of 19 windmills was built around 1740. this group of mills is the largest concentration of old windmills in the netherlands.
All of them are all working windmills that require people living in them to be "millers" and maintain them. There is a waiting list of people to live in them! visitors can go in one of them on certain days (which wasnt the case when we were there, unfortunately). There is an entrance for those who want to see the windmill on the inside, but there is no fee for those who just go to see the windmills on the outside.
UNESCO inscribed the Kinderdijk-Elshout network of windmills on the World Heritage List in 1997. The network attests to the ingenuity and bravery of the Dutch people, who developed a highly intelligent hydraulic system to stabilize and cultivate a large stretch of peat bog in the Netherlands.
Located on the northwest edge of the Alblasserwaard (“land on the water’s edge”), the complex helped drain the inner districts of the Overwaard (“the high land”) and the Nederwaard (“the low land”) until 1950, when the mills were closed. The 19 remaining mills are still in operating condition.
The site and its upstream and downstream polders, equipped with natural drainage systems, rivers and streams, windmills, pumping stations and spillways, have remained virtually unchanged since the 18th century. Today this typically Dutch landscape is officially protected as a cultural monument and a natural reserve.
It's approx. 16km from rotterdam, and if you're travelling by car, you can find it by taking the A16 and A15 motorway from Rotterdam in the direction of Gorinchem and Nijmegen, and taking the exit signposted as "Alblasserdam, Kinderdijk", and following the signs to Kinderdijk. Walking along the dyke from the designated parking area, you will first see the modern pumping station, and then a succession of all nineteen 18th century windmills, on either side of the dyke and waterway.
Kinderdijk, a well worth visit!
Click here for an interactive history and explanation on windmills and kinderdijk.
Read more about Kinderdijk here
Read about Kinderdijk on UNESCO world heritage site here
Saturday, 23 June 2007