Dutch History through Windmills

January 23, 2015

The Netherlands are famous all over the world for their windmills. There are over a thousand windmills throughout the country, ranging from quaint and ramshackle to high and mighty buildings. The reason for this is simple, Holland is a very low, very flat country, with a large portion of it lying below sea level. Windmills therefore offered a useful way for farmers to pump water out of the lowlands and ensure that the land could be used for farming. They were also used to saw logs for building and to grind up grain for food.

Visiting Holland’s windmills makes for an interesting, laid-back and unique holiday experience. Eschewing the hustle and bustle of the city for a world where life moves a little more slowly can make your holiday seem even longer!

After arriving in Holland, then head to De Zaanse Schans in Zaandam, just half an hour away from the IJmuiden port. At De Zaanse Schans you can experience Holland as it was in the 17th and 18th century. See the wonderful architecture of Dutch houses from the period, as well as the old shipyard, pewter factory and cheese and dairy farms as well as the huge number of windmills that this area has to offer.

You could also head to Kinderdijk, just half an hour’s drive from Rotterdam. Kinderdijk is a UNESCO World Heritage site and is great example of windmills being used for water management, with these particular windmills having been built in the 1700s specifically to prevent flooding.

Schiedam is home to the tallest windmills in the world, with heights of up to 33 metres. De Nieuwe Palmboom (The New Palm Tree) is a windmill-cum-museum which gives you the history of Schiedam and its windmills, including their importance in the production of the Dutch liqueur Jenever. You can also enjoy a meal in the De Noord windmill – the tallest in the world.

Some windmills in Holland are now used for other purposes, such as Molen de Gooyer in Amsterdam, which used to be a flour mill but is now a beer brewery and bar! The brewery, Brouwerij ‘it IJ, allows customers to enjoy a free sample and a tour of the beer-making process, giving you another fascinating insight into Dutch culture.

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