Mention Holland and the first thing most people will think of is windmills. Not that the Dutch were the first to build them but they've certainly made good use of them over the past 800 years or so.
Nowhere on this planet will you find such a concentration of windmilss in a relatively small area and most of them were built in the 18th century.
A short cruise along the river is probably the best way to get a clear perspective of these giant Dutch icons throughout this UNESCO listed site.
- Historical Travel
- Museum Visits
The 19 windmills of Kinderdijk
The photo was taken in the board room of the Dyk & Water Board. It was already dark so unfortunately the windmills could not be seen from the building.
Anyway, the 19 windmills to keep dry the low land where the rivers meet, is what thousands of tourists come to see each year. It is a World Heritage site but that doesn't really financially help to keep this monument. So the province Zuid-Holland pays for the maintenance.
BTW... contrary to what one sometimes reads in the media, the windmills are in excellent condition, according to the Dyke & Water Board.
- Family Travel
Take a look at waterland
Looking at the map of the "Alblasserwaard" (waard = polder) one will see how water rich this area is. The canals, ditches and lakes are forming a system in which the water is lifted, lifted and again lifted outside the polder on the way to the sea. Without the windmills (and more modern variants of pumping installations) these parts of The Netherlands would be under the waterline. Actually, switch of the complete system of water drainage in NL and within 48 hours, around 35% of our country will be floaded.
The type of Kinderdijk windmill
The windmills at Kinderdijk are almost all the so called "achtkantige molens" = eight sides mills. Most were built around 1740 and were used to drain water from the lower ditches in the higher canal. The windmills are mainly made of wood (some in stone) and verry in height a bit (almost 30 meters). The water is lifted over several stages around 14 meters up, into the main rivers running near Kinderdijk.
The windmills in a straight line
Especially photogenic are the windmills that are in the endpart of the canal (as seen from the visitors main parking), where they form a beautiful line along the draining dike on which they stand. Here is also a bridge that is providing a perfect place to make these pictures possible. Maybe not such special picture after all, but one you just can't let untouched. At least the dark day I made it, shows some originality.
Visit the "visitors" windmill
See how a windmill works from the inside. The "Bezoekers-molen" = Visitors-windmill can show you what the windmill is all about as inside the wheels are turning when the wind gives the power of motion to the sails. An ingineous machinery takes care of the pumping of water that gets shifted to a higher leveled canal on it's way out of the polder and towards the sea.
Open daily from 1st of April 'til 30st of September and from 9:30 until 17:30 hours.
All 19 windmills, of course!
Kinderdijk is a small village where in the polder behind the dike, a long canal is dug to take care of the regulation of the water. Along this canal (and few side canals) 19 windmills await you. I was here at a rainy winter's day and utterly alone (not a tourist for miles). This place must also be one of the most favourite ones of Ilja (our son) as he is crazy about windmills (he calls them "draai-draais", which means as much as "turning-turnings"). He was not with me, but will be as soon as I return on a sunnier day (even the camera got drops on the lense, as you will see on the pictures.
One week a year, usually in te beginning of September the windmills of Kinderdijk are floodlit. This is a great time to make a wonderfull walk in the evening there.
and dont forget your camera and tripod!
- Hiking and Walking
Windmills of Kinderdijk
Windmills of Kinderdijk
The biggest concentration of windmills in the Netherlands, I believe there are 19 mills. At Kinderdijk it is possible to take a short boattrip along the mills.
You can also visit one of them and ask question about the use of these mills.
5bLook at my: travelogue
Kinderdijk 19 Windmills
It was VERY sunny when I was there. Lucky for me, i guess. The pictures did not came out too well on my camera because of the extreme glare. The Easter Monday that I went was beautiful, bit of a heatwave actually =).
So many pictures
Believe it or not, this is only a selection of the pictures that I have of the Kinderdijk. Hahaha, I just kept on clicking my camera. These photos are all taken by my digital. Maybe some day I'll scan in a few more for you taken by my SLR.
The name "Kinderdijk" (Childrensdyke)
So why is this place called the "Kinderdijk" / "Childrensdyke"
It all happened during the Saint Elisabeth’s Flood [November 18th, 1421]. The waves washed over the low lands in a fury and everywhere dykes were swept away as if they were made of paper. People and cattle drowned and died a miserable death. Cries of dispair were heard all over the land.
But what does the sea care for lamentations? The water ran through the huge holes in the dykes, and swept away all that it encountered. This way no less than seventy-two villages near the city of Dordrecht drowned. The fertile soil changed into a vast stretch of salt water. Where once was life and industriousness, there now remained the Biesbosch with its creeks and its inlets.
Certainly, this is what happened during the days of the Saint Elisabeth’s Flood. Nothing remained of the seventy-two prospering villages. Houses and churches, people and cattle, it was all swallowed up by the sea.
It so happened that in these days one miracle occurred.... One human life was spared.
As far as the eye could see, there was water - there were waves everywhere. All that once lived, had gone under; but see, what was floating over there? That tiny dot over there, that object that rocked on the waves? Was it a cradle?
By all means, it was a cradle and there was a tiny rosy child lying in it. It sucked its little thumb and his blue eyes looked at the grey sky in an innocent way.
How was it possible that the cradle didn’t turn over? How could it be that the waves did not wash it away?
The answer was a cat on the hood of the cradle, jumping from left to right and back again, thus keeping the strange vessel in balance.
Where did the cradle come from and whatever happened to the child?
Nobody knows, but up until today, the very spot where the cradle came ashore is called Kinderdijk - Childrensdyke.
Hahaha, am I boring you already with my windmill facts and photos? I just loved to see them, so beautiful on the side of the canal, with the green pastures around them. And on a beautiful sunny day like this, you can see their reflection in the water.
History of the Windmill
Ever since the 16th century, hundreds of thousands of Dutch people have been living on the bottom of former lakes. In order to make this possible, many windmills were used to drain the land and keep it dry. Windmills still form an important element of water management in these low lands. The largest ones will, it is claimed, in a fair wind, lift 10,000 gallons of water per minute to the height of four feet. In the 17th century, the invention of the camshaft and the crankshaft made it possible to use wind energy for a wide range of industrial purposes. Hundreds of windmills were used in the timber, paper and coloring industry and created the world’s first industrial zones.
It is not known for certain when the first mills were constructed in Holland, but by 1274 water mills, driven by rivers and streams, had become a familiar sight. In 1414, the earliest known drainage mills were invented and around 1450 many could be found in South Holland. The mills did not originate in Holland but are probably introduced in Europe from the Middle East during the times of the Crusades.
The development of the mills, however, is most certainly attributable to Holland, as it is unrivaled in the diversity of types of mills. The advent of technology though, brought a quick end to the mill's usefulness. First the steam engines, then the internal combustion engines and finally the electric motor all gradually took over the jobs previously undertaken by wind or water. The mills were no longer profitable and were either destroyed or used for storage. By 1923, only three thousand out of 10 thousand mills remained, which further declined to just over 1,000 remaining today. Fortunately, these living monuments are now protected and many of them are open to the public, at set times.
Visit a windmill
There are nineteen windmills lined up in two opposite rows at the Kinderdijk. The round brick windmills on one side drain the Nederwaard. On the opposite side, the octagon windmills keep the Overwaard from being flooded. Some of these windmills are open to the public. They will give a good impression of how the millers and their families used to live.
The windmills are open to the public from April through September, Tuesday through Saturday from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. On Saturdays, in July and August, the mills are turning and open to the public.