Castel dell'Ovo in Naples, fortress & former royal residence

The original 19 windmills of Kinderdijk
From saving lives and land to tourist attraction

Kinderdijk, South Holland, Netherlands (2019– The Dutch people are good in many things but they are truly excellent in protecting their land from the ever-present threat of flooding. And they do so very successful for centuries. The Netherlands is considered a flat country with more than a quarter of its land being located below sea level and only about half of the whole country exceed one meter above the sea level. So flood control is really important for the Dutch population. Especially for those living close to the famous coast of the North Sea or in between the fascinating landscape of ditches, dikes, waterways, canals, lakes and rivers. It saves their land, their homes, their work and their future. The best way to understand this eternal struggle of losing land to water is to visit Kinderdijk, a village in the municipality of Molenwaard, in South Holland, about 15 kilometers (9 miles) east of Rotterdam. There, in the low-lying land of the Alblasserwaard polder area, demonstrates a unique 250-year-old windmill park with 19 original mills impressively the masterful water management the Dutch have developed over the centuries.   

Flood disaster in Kinderdijk in 1421 – How the village got its name

A thousand years ago, this Alblasserwaard area was nothing more than a swamp or a bog. The raging rivers and the brutally wild sea seemed to have successfully swallowed the lowland. The first settlers defied the danger of the water by building their homes on sand dunes, raising dikes, building walls and succeeded in drying out the land. Until in 1421 a flood disaster, the Saint Elisabeth's flood, broke the all the dikes in the area, causing the death of thousands of people. Legend has it, that this flood gave the village Kinderdijk (meaning children's dike) its name. According to the story told, the deadly flood survivors had found a cradle floating in one of the broken dikes with a crying baby in it and a cat jumping up and down to keep the cradle in balance and preventing sure death to itself and the toddler.    

1738 to 1740: A network of 19 windmills was created

 About 300 years later, in the years from 1738 to 1740, the people of the Kinderdijk village built in an effort to fight and control the flood water more successful, a water pump network with a total of 19 windmills at the concourse of the Lek and Noord rivers in the Alblasserwaard polder. Since then these water pumping mills transport the excess water back into the rivers beyond the dikes, so the land can stay dry.  

Kinderdijk – A national monument, a UNESCO World Heritage site and a must-see

Visiting Kinderdijk feels like walking into an enormous, very beautiful open-air-museum. Even though the sails are still cutting into the wind every day of the year. All the mills are still fully functioning, 16 of them are inhabited and operated by people who are required to hold a valid mill license. "Life is not easy for them, it's a very simple life", the captain of the riverboat cruiser told me. "They can't access the mills by car, only by bike or with a wheelbarrow. And in case one gets sick and needs to be transported to the hospital, they have to be picked up by a helicopter." People who live in Kinderdijk's mills have to work in the mill for the right to live there. They have to operate the mill according to a contract they have to sign. "Required is a certain amount of turns of the sails. They can't do fewer turns but if they do more it will lower their rent." And of course, they have to know all about the water management in the area, they have to run the pumps whenever necessary. Even though the main water management doesn't rely any longer only on the mills, two diesel pumping stations do the main work nowadays, they wind-driven mills still have their place in the water management network and work as a backup system in case the modern pumps fail.

Kinderdijk 

  • The historic windmills of Kinderdijk are a true treasure to the Dutch, they are listed as a national monument 
  • Kinderdijk is a protected village since 1993
  • The 19 mills are a UNESCO World Heritage site since 1997
  • The windmills of Kinderdijk are unique, another complex like it does not exist anywhere else in the world
  •  With Canal Cruiser and the Canal Hopper, visitors can float closely past the windmills
  • Almost every small town and polder in the Netherlands has one or more windmills
The earliest known wind-powered grain mills and water pumps were used by the Persians in A.D. 500-900 and by the Chinese in A.D. 1200. The Netherlands still has today over 1000 mills.
UNESCO inscribed the mill-network at Kinderdijk in 1997 into the World Heritage List.
UNESCO stated: "...The outstanding contribution made by the people of the Netherlands to the technology of handling the water is admirably demonstrated by the installations in the Kinderdijk-Elshout area..."

GALLERY

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Leiden – Grachten and Pannenkoeken
One of the coolest things to do in Leiden is the boat tour on the canals – "Grachten" as the Dutch call it – discovering the beauty of the city on its waterways. After renting the boat at "Blauwpoorts Harbour", right in the center of Leiden, you will steer your boat as captain for the day yourself from one gorgeous landmark to the next. Check out Leiden, tulips, windmills, canals and some of the greatest works of art are all close by, plus this charming Dutch city is an attraction by itself.​ 
Check out Leiden