Windmills at Kinderdijk, near Rotterdam in Holland

Windmills at Kinderdijk, near Rotterdam in Holland

Kinderdijk was a big surprise when we visited last spring. Despite its UNESCO world heritage status and its 19 windmills – the largest amount in any one area in all of the Netherlands and the only place in the world with so many windmills so close together – the place was almost completely deserted. So on the blustery, overcast afternoon of our visit, with just the windmills for company, it was quite easy to imagine we’d been transported back in time to the Holland of Dutch artists like Vermeer, Rembrandt and Avercamp.

windmills at Kinderdijk

There’s something magnetic about the turning of a windmill’s sails. As we chugged down the waterway on the tourist ‘Hopper’ boat, the water was calm enough to just about hear the slow creaking of the sails as they turned – some, on the ‘ground-sailer’ mills, almost long enough to brush the ground. The windmills were built in the 18th century to keep the low-lying land well-drained. When you see them lined up on the horizon, and travel past them, by boat or on foot (we did both), it’s difficult not to feel in awe of these stately old fellows, who helped protect the Dutch people from flooding for hundreds of years.

windmills at Kinderdijk

windmills at Kinderdijk

Kinderdijk is set in the middle of the beautiful ‘Groene Hart’ (Green Heart) area of Dutch countryside, but is also only about a half hour’s drive from Rotterdam, the country’s second city. If you visit in the depths of winter, it’s possible to ice skate on the water, past the mills; otherwise, you can do what we did, and take a trip on the Hopper. There’s no commentary on board, but if you wanted to find out more about the history of Kinderdijk you can hop off at one of the Museum Mills, where a ‘miller’ in traditional blue overall and clogs gives a tour of the interior, preserved from the 1950s. We arrived too late in the day to justify a visit to the Museum Mill, so instead we walked back along the path, flanked by swaying reeds and bulrushes, to the car park and café for a warming hot chocolate.

windmills at Kinderdijk

If you want to experience a genuine slice of Dutch history, Kinderdijk is a must. And if, like us, you go off-season, you might also find you have the place practically to yourself.

Here’s a little video I made of our afternoon at Kinderdijk:

Tickets for entry to two Museum Mills, the windmill site and a multiscreen film at the Wisboom visitor centre are €8 for adults, and €5.50 for children between 4 and 12. A trip on the Hopper is €5.50 for adults, and €3 for children. The under-4s go free. Find out more on the Kinderdijk website.

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windmills at Kinderdijk

I’m linking this post up with Faraway Files – this week hosted by Suitcases and Sandcastles.

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24 Comments

  1. January 17, 2017 / 3:27 pm

    Oh this looks so beautiful! I do love the windmills in Holland and I’d love to visit Kinderdijk. Definitely one for when we tour Europe!
    Nat.x

    • Nell
      Author
      January 20, 2017 / 11:12 am

      Yes Nat, you’d love it here.

  2. January 18, 2017 / 8:36 pm

    Nell it looks so beautiful, I would be mesmerise by this. There is something about Windmills that take me back to childhood and fairy tales, I would love to visit x

    • Nell
      Author
      January 20, 2017 / 11:19 am

      They really were stunning.

    • Nell
      Author
      January 20, 2017 / 11:28 am

      A pleasure!

  3. January 24, 2017 / 11:11 pm

    Had to read this as I’m sure we did visit hear years back when staying with friends in Holland. I too remember it being incredibly cold. It’s good to see a review like this as it brings it back and it is quite incredible. There really is something quite wonderful about windmills isn’t there. Great post!

    • Nell
      Author
      January 29, 2017 / 5:56 pm

      Thank you Nicky! x

  4. February 2, 2017 / 10:42 am

    Oh I love how so many are right there together. We visited Zaanse Schans and that was amazing! Would love to see this one too! #FarawayFiles

    • Nell
      Author
      February 2, 2017 / 1:02 pm

      It really is an incredible experience.

  5. February 2, 2017 / 1:22 pm

    This sounds so fun. I’ve never seen a windmill up close and it sounds like an awesome experience. #farawayfiles

    • Nell
      Author
      February 3, 2017 / 11:00 am

      They really are majestic.

  6. February 2, 2017 / 9:38 pm

    I would love to experience these beautiful windmills Nell. And I absolutely love the photo of you with the kids. It’s one to frame if you haven’t already. Putting on my list for future Netherlands adventures #FarawayFiles

    • Nell
      Author
      February 3, 2017 / 10:50 am

      Thanks for reminding me, Katy. I really need to get it printed out. Never seem to get round to it these days….

  7. February 3, 2017 / 4:29 pm

    Nell, I am going to sound completely silly (or dumb, to be honest) but I have never realized the windmills were built to drain the water from the area (since nowadays windmills have a different purpose). I am glad I learned that! Such a beautiful area! i will tour it by boat and foot too. #FarawayFiles

    • Nell
      Author
      February 6, 2017 / 9:05 pm

      It was news to me too!

  8. February 3, 2017 / 9:25 pm

    Such a uniquely Dutch experience, Nell. I love the thought of being able to hear the sound of the windmills turning and even better to have the place virtually to yourselves. what a wonderful thing to see and great to share on #FarawayFiles. Thank you!

    • Nell
      Author
      February 6, 2017 / 9:29 pm

      It was pretty special.

  9. February 6, 2017 / 9:45 pm

    There’s a rather Dutch theme to #FarawayFiles this week, no? 🙂

    It’s wonderful that you got to explore this iconic place without the hustle and bustle of crowds of tourists; I’m sure your kids loved this special day out. Despite living only a few hours away, I have – ashamedly – never visited Kinderdijk. Thanks for inspiring me towards a future visit!

    • Nell
      Author
      February 7, 2017 / 11:07 am

      You’d love it, Jonny.

  10. Sorry that we missed this outing on our visit to the tulips last April… reason to go back! I love the idea of the Hopper – any chance to get out on the water and I’m usually a taker! What a fun outing and cool historical spot. Thanks for sharing with #FarawayFiles Nell! Cheers from Copenhagen, Erin

    • Nell
      Author
      February 7, 2017 / 11:08 am

      A pleasure!

  11. February 13, 2017 / 8:54 am

    That looks like a lovely place. Such a nice place to escape the city.

    • Nell
      Author
      February 15, 2017 / 3:53 pm

      It really was stunning!

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