Windmills: from energy provider to irreplaceable Dutch icon

August 18, 2015

Napoleon declared one of Holland’s distinctive windmill sites “Unique in its kind!”

This month we will explore why and give you some tips on where you can visit some of the great windmills that Holland has to offer.

There are four different types of traditional vertical windmills in Holland; the post mill, hollow post mill, tower mill, and the smock mill. These windmills were originally used in Holland to utilise wind power for the production of bread, mustard, paint, oils and paper. They were also used to pump water out of lakes, where their industrial value was of upmost importance. Some of the 1,000+ vertical windmills in Holland today are still used for drainage. Not only do the windmills have a functional purpose, but they have also become a key factor of the typical Dutch landscape.

There are many places that are well-known for their windmills. One of these famous places is the 19 windmills at Kinderdijk (built around 1740), which have been recognised as a UNESCO World Heritage site. Another example is Schiedam, just outside of Rotterdam, which is the place to be if you want to see the tallest windmills in the world – over 40 metres tall! The windmills here played a major role in Jenever (a type of gin) production in the 18th and 19th centuries, making it the Jenever capital of the world.

Since the industrial use of windmills has greatly decreased, many windmills have been transformed for different uses, such as museums and restaurants, so they can be conserved.

Where can you visit the windmills?

  • Schiedam, near Rotterdam, boasts the tallest windmills in the world
  • Head inside the windmills at Zaanse Schans – a 250 year old windmill park, just north of Amsterdam
  • Kinderdijk, close to Rotterdam, is one of the UNESCO World Heritage sites of Holland
  • Visit a museum in a windmill – Museummolen Schermerhorn – close to Amsterdam
  • Treat yourself at ‘In de Molen’ – a Michelin star restaurant in an old windmill in the Brabant region of Holland

Visit Holland on a short break and experience the true essence of Dutch culture for yourself! & before you leave, make sure you plan your trip to get the most from these Dutch icons here.

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