Walking through Kinderdijk, A UNESCO World Heritage Site

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There’s just something about a mill. Water or wind, no matter its purpose, humankind’s ability to harness the natural power and energy around us is almost magical. We’ve seen mills for pressing olives into oil,grinding grain into grist, cutting logs into lumber, and even creating electricity. The mills at Kinderdijk, however, were built for a different purpose–moving water.

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I have always been fascinated by mechanical technology. Ever since I was a child, I can remember taking things apart and rebuilding them. Whenever I travel I am always on the lookout for machinery or anything mechanical. While others are looking at the statues and artwork, I’m trying to figure out how the ceiling was constructed or how the rickety old elevator works. So when we went to the Netherlands, I was excited to have the chance to see the windmills of Kinderdijk.

Walk Kinderdijk

We woke early in the morning to be on the dikes before sunrise. The light is best at that time of day for photography, the rising sun gives everything a rosy glow. We were there before the “official” opening time of the park but since this is a public area, open for walking or jogging at anytime, that wasn’t really a problem. We parked in the lot at the end of the dike and spent a little time checking out the modern water pumping station. The area still requires constant draining and water movement to keep it from flooding. The land here was reclaimed from the sea long ago but without the use of electric or gas burning pump houses used today.

Walk Kinderdijk

Instead, these massive windmills were built to capture the energy of the wind to operate the pumps and machinery that would drain the sea water and keep the water moving through the canals. The remaining windmills have been carefully maintained and restored and several of them can be visited and explored during operating hours. You can go inside and see how the machinery works and even climb up to the upper levels to the sail decks for an amazing view. I’ve even seen people riding on the sails as they go round and round in the steady breeze!

Walk Kinderdijk

When we went to Kinderdijk, we stayed the night in Papendrecht at the Apollo Hotel. This was a comfortable place, only 10 minutes drive from the park. We woke early, went out to explore, and then back to the hotel for the delicious complimentary breakfast of fresh orange juice, baked goods, and cooked to order eggs!

Walk Kinderdijk

Apollo Hotel Papendrecht
Burgemeester Keijzerweg 100
3353 CV Papendrecht
T: +31 (0) 78 615 20 99
F: +31 (0) 78 615 85 97
E: info.papendrecht@apollohotelsresorts.com

Have been to the windmill complex at Kinderdijk? Are you fascinated by these technological wonders? Share your adventures or ask a question.

Kinderdijk

This post is linked to Travel Photo Thursdays and Friday Postcards and Sunday Traveler.

 

30 Comments

  1. This place looks amazing – your photos are beautiful! I’ve never been to Kinderdijk, but this post has reminded me of the joys I had spotting windmills in the Dutch countryside when I visited Arnhem a few months ago. They’re something so wonderful about simple windmills!

  2. I love the view of the windmills, and would enjoy a guide explaining their workings to me. I would however not immediately think – I wonder how they work? 🙂

    1. Jan, It’s really fun just to walk around and see all the people, and their dogs, in the park with these pretty windmills in the background. I think you would enjoy it.

  3. I was just wondering a few weeks ago as we were flying through the Netherlands what exactly is the purpose of those iconic windmills. Thanks for the information! I would love to explore them in person some time, especially going inside and seeing the mechanics of it. However, there is no way I would hang on to the sails and go for a spin.

    1. Michele, Kinderdijk isn’t the only windmill park in the Netherlands, there are a few. I find the inner workings of things to be fascinating as well, so I love this kind of stuff. You should go sometime!

  4. Beautiful photos! This landscape looks very similar to the Fens in England – except we don’t have the windmills :). And do people really ride on the sails?! I’m not sure whether I’d like to do that or not!

  5. That second shot is iconic. Windmills (and tulips) are the first things I think of when I think the Netherlands. I’d love to see them up close like you did. I can’t imagine riding on one though. Anyway, hope they had a model or two that you could take apart.

  6. I am Dutch and only once visited Kinderdijk (and that was a bit of an accident, because I took a wring turn!), can you believe that 😉 There are many windmills where I live, so I kind of don’t feel the need. If that makes sense? Did you know that when we have a national day of mourning in The Netherlands (like we had last week to mourn the Dutch victims of MH17) the windmills go ‘in mourning position’, they are all turned to a little ‘after the hour’. It’s such a great thing to see.
    Found you through #SundayTraveler

    1. Esther, I did not know that bit about mourning. That is extremely interesting. I lived near Uden for two years, and it was right next door to a windmill. So, I know that you don’t have to go looking for them. Thanks for stopping by.

  7. Hi Corinne,
    Yes, I am always fascinated by old fashion technology that are in use until today. And I like that the windmills are not only functional but they are so picturesque as well. They’ll make any boring landscape look scenic. Love your photos, especially the ones where the mills are silhouette. I adore your determination to get up early to catch the beautiful morning light.

  8. What stunning photos Corinne! Thanks for sharing. You’ve made me want to go to this part of Holland now.

  9. We went to visit the kinderdijk molens when we went to the Netherlands last year! it was awesome and we went inside two of them, one of which was a watermill & on, but not actually pumping water.. thanks for sharing, I didn’t know it was a UNESCO world heritage site.

  10. Ooh when I first saw the picture, I thought it was from the same place I visited a week ago in the Dutch countryside!! But I think I went so,we here different (Zaanse Schans). I love the old windmills!! So picturesque. And that picture with the purple clouds is sooooo gorgeous!

  11. Windmills always make me smile, I think it is more the association with childhood fantasy stories then the technology. Either way, I loved this post and wish we had spent more time in the Netherlands.

  12. I really enjoyed visiting this site. It’s incredible to know how much they contributed to the history and way of life in the Netherlands. Not to mention coming up with the mechanics behind it all. People are amazing.

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