Holland’s UNESCO World Heritage Sites

The Netherlands boasts an impressive 10 UNESCO World Heritage Sites, one of which isn’t even in the Netherlands, but in the Caribbean. However, for the 9 that you will find in the actual country of the Netherlands, there’s a fantastic collection of both architectural and natural sites that epitomise Dutch ingenuity, beauty and diversity.

Windmills of Kinderdijk

Built in 1740, these 19 windmills cover the green land of Kinderdijk and make for a stunning skyline, especially at sunrise and sunset. Surrounded by grasslands and marshes, these windmills stand tall above them. It harks back to a bygone time, making you feel as if a time traveller as modern civilisation is nowhere in sight. As water is a prominent feature of the landscape, you can even take a boat tour through Kinderdijk, admiring the windmills as you sail beneath them.


Photo: Dmitry P

Beemster Polder

Beemster Polder, originally a lake, is a stretch of land that was drained in the 17th century. Over 7000 hectares, it is an intricate web of canals that were utilised by the farmers and merchants of the day. These rich folk settled here, building mansions and manors, some of which still stand today. It is a truly charming landscape with an interesting history.


Photo: Johan van der Wijk

Canals of Amsterdam

These beautiful, quiet canals fed the city’s economic and commercial industry during the Dutch Golden Age and are, unsurprisingly, a feature on this list. It is also where Bloemenmarkt, the world’s only floating flower market, sits. Wander through the canal’s ring system, or take a cruise down the water itself and surround yourself with the Flemish architecture and tall merchant houses. The evening cruises are particularly picturesque as the city is illuminated in warm lights, leading the buildings and bridges to become reflected in the darkened waters.


Photo: Pixabay 1919021

Wadden Sea

Between Den Helder in the Netherlands and Esjberg in Denmark lies the Wadden Sea. It covers a Dutch Conservation Area and German National Park and is, for those reasons as well as others, a fascinating natural wonder. During different tidal times the seascape begins to change, you may even find the seabed exposed at times. Be sure to keep an eye out for seals and harbour porpoise, too, common inhabitants of this charming area. Characterised by its mudflats, marshes and meadows of long seagrass, it is truly beautiful to behold.


Photo: Pixabay evondue

Defence Line of Amsterdam

This 135km defence line surrounds the country’s capital and consists of 42 forts. Begun in 1883, it was finalised in 1920 and is the world’s only fortification based on the principle of controlling water. Unfortunately, it became redundant almost as soon as it was completed. However, for its demonstration of modern Dutch genius UNESCO deemed it a World Heritage Site in 1996.


Photo: Johan Wieland

D.F. Wouda Steam Pumping Station

Opening in 1920 towards the end of the steam area, this is another example of Dutch intellect with hydraulic engineering. Though the machines are nearly 100 years old, this pumping station in Lemmer remains in pristine condition. It is the largest ever steam-pumping station and is still in operation today. Taking full advantage of the publicity UNESCO brings, the station has packages for schools, cruises and even weddings. Water surrounds the town itself, which has become famous for its water sports.


Photo: Jac. Janssen 

Rietveld Schröder House

This family home is a fantastic architectural tribute to the De Stijl movement, a powerful artistic style developed in the 20th century. The focus in De Stijl art is on the use of primary colours and black and white, as well as using only angular shapes. The house, built in 1924, looks as though it has jumped straight out of a Piet Mondrian painting and stands out predominantly in comparison to the standard Dutch housing that surrounds this masterpiece.


Photo: Gavin Schaefer 

Schokland and Surroundings

Originally a peninsula, Schokland became an inhabited island in the 15th century. However, it had to be evacuated in 1859 as the sea began to creep further inland. In the 1940s this surrounding water was drained. It is now accessible to the public and is a remarkable site to visit. It will prove fascinating to any and all history buffs as it is a protected archaeological site, with prehistoric remnants dating back to the Neolithic period.


Photo: bert knottenbeld 

Van Nellefabriek

Van Nellefabriek is the newest addition to Holland’s UNESCO World Heritage list, only becoming a member of this prestigious club in 2014. On the banks of a canal in Northern Rotterdam, this structure is an iconic piece of Dutch modernist architecture. Described as the building of “steel and glass”, the building incorporates a strong theme of Western European industrialisation, making it a paramount feature in modern history.


Photo: Vincent van der Pas

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