Windmills of Holland


They “catch” the wind and transmit power to agricultural processes. These structure with their large fans are said to be ubiquitous across the Dutch landscape. WRONG! It is easier only for locals who know where they are. And they are usually not somewhere you would go unless you have time and are able to get there.

If you look up wikipedia, it says that 1200 windmills have survived the past 150 years in Holland. The list of their locations vary across the whole of the country. Unless you are a buff on all things wind mill, would not a one-stop location be best?

Well here are two which we often take our visitors to,

Zaanse Schans, tourist trap

Route to Zaanse SchansWell, perhaps too harsh a word to use but in a positive way. Indeed Zaanse Schans “traps” lots of visitors precisely because it is a one-stop location as we alluded to in the above paragraph.

The result of careful transport of many windmills from nearby Zaanstreek (an old industrial belt) to this location over 1961 to 1974. Just so you know, this is a UNESCO world heritage site. It is not just windmills that you come here for, as there are seven museums that showcase the various industries of Holland.

Honestly this a very busy place. Hard to find parking and definitely shoulder-to-shoulder with hordes of other visitors some of the times. Watch the many coach buses coming from Amsterdam and all over Europe disgorge them! However, it is a very good introduction and definitely a must for first time visitors to the country. Read more here.

Kinderdijk and the row of seven

Actually there are 19 windmills here. But there is seven in a row that lines up beautifully for you if one walks the length of the pathway. These windmills were actually critical in keeping the reclaimed land dry. The main reason there are rows of them is that each can only pump water up by 1½ meters. Thus a series of them had to be placed in a cascade to raise the water high enough to be discharged via sluices over the dikes.

It has an interesting story around its name. Kinderdijk – as you can imagine “kinder” means Child in the Germanic language. Even the English language retains this link till this day. The story goes that after a great flood in 1421, where a cradle in which a baby and cat had survived was rescued.

Yet another UNESCO world heritage site, it is near Rotterdam. For us, it was a 100km drive each time we shuffled guests to this site. While not as bustling as Zaanse Schans and definitely not as much of the trappings of tourist facilities, it is a better to stroll without the crowds without the commercialization that accompanies it. Best thing that we remember is – its free, we did not pay for entry back in the day. Hope it is still so. Read more here about our various visits.

Amsterdam, abandoned relics?

Finally, one cannot forget that there are windmills in the cities too. Each of the major cities would boast of their own. And Amsterdam can boast of more than a few. When we first got to Amsterdam, we rented a temporary apartment in town. Well, on Oostenburgergracht. During those time we did some exploring of that part of Amsterdam and came up to a corner on the road with a windmill. This is the De Gooyer windmill and the photo of Suan posing in front of it is in our main Holland page (read here).

Yes there are also windmills all over elsewhere in Holland. And with well over 1200 documented to be in some form of intactness, you will definitely find them on the web hawking how nice it is. As hosts of visitors, it remains the best to bring our friends to the above sites. Just our 2 cents!

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