A tour of the Kinderdijk windmills

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The Kinderdijk windmills are a masterpiece of engineering and a symbol of the Dutch people's struggle against water to obtain arable land. A place that will captivate you.
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Kinderijk is located in the Alblasserwaard polder, in the province of South Holland (Netherlands). It is an extensive area of land reclaimed from the sea, at the confluence of the Lek and Noord rivers, dedicated to cultivation, where canals meander between the two rivers and 19 enormous coordinated windmills fight to intelligently manage excess water. Much of this area is below sea level. Kinderdijk belongs to the municipality of Molenlanden, and one of the mills, Blokker, belongs to the municipality of Alblasserdam.

 A little history 

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In the 13th century, the Alblasserwaard area experienced water problems, and large canals called "weteringen" were dug to drain excess water in the polders. However, the drained soil settled and the river level rose, causing flooding in the fields. To keep the polders dry, a series of windmills were built, capable of pumping water to intermediate ponds between the polder floor and the average level of the river. Although some of the windmills are still in use, the main pumping capacity is provided by two diesel-powered pump stations, located near one of the entrances to the windmill area.

The first windmills in Kinderdijk were built in 1613. In the following years, in 1738 eight stone mills were built, which evacuate the drainage water from the lower polders of the Alblasserwaard towards an intermediate pond and in 1740 the wooden mills of Overwaard which evacuate the water from the upper polders to another pond. Water is discharged into the river through locks during periods of low river level.

The Kinderdijk windmills and their adjacent area have been listed as national monuments since 1993 and were inscribed as a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1997. The protected area covers an area of 322 hectares.

 Kinderdijk resort 

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The Kinderdijk tourist complex is open to the public every day of the year. Visitors can tour the entire mill site for free, learn about its history and operation, and enjoy stunning views of the natural surroundings. The complex also houses a museum, a cafe and a restaurant.

If you travel by car or motorhome, you will have to park it in a parking lot at the entrance to Alblasserdam where you can take a bus that crosses the entire town of Alblasserdam and leaves you right at the entrance of the tourist complex. You can also do it on foot, the route is about two or three kilometers.

The Kinderdijk resort offers visitors the opportunity to explore and learn about the fascinating history of windmills and their crucial role in draining polders in the Netherlands. In addition to visiting the mills, tourists can enjoy activities such as boat rides on the canals that surround the area, allowing for a spectacular panoramic view of the mills from the water.

The site has walking and cycling trails, allowing visitors to immerse themselves in the beautiful landscape of the Alblasserwaard polder and appreciate nature and life in the Netherlands. The Kinderdijk windmills are managed and conserved by the Kinderdijk World Heritage Foundation, and local tour guides offer guided tours in multiple languages to provide an enriching experience for tourists.

A good option is to get on one of their tourist boats and enjoy the views of the mills from the water, while a guide explains details about the place. The tourist boats depart from the pier at the Kinderdijk visitor center and tickets can be purchased both online and at the ticket office.

There are two types of cruise: The five-stop ones or the 30-minute express tour. With the five-stop cruise ticket you have free access to all Kinderdijk mill museums and can watch a short explanatory film about Kinderdijk in the Hulpgemaal De Fabriek engine room and use the Kinderdijk audio app.

The Kinderdijk windmills are a popular tourist attraction, welcoming more than a million visitors each year. The windmills are a symbol of the history and culture of the Netherlands, and are a reminder of the ingenuity of the Dutch in controlling the waters.

 Information on schedules, prices and others 

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  • Hours: Kinderdijk is a public site, but museums and attractions are open to the public between 12:00 and 4:00 p.m. (in summer from 9:30 a.m. to 5:30 p.m.). Closed on December 25.
  • Price: The visit to Kinderdijk is free, but to enter some of the museums, such as the Museummolen Blokweer or the Museummolen Nederwaard, you have to pay. There is also the possibility of taking a cruise and seeing the mills from the water.
  • Other information: The windmills are not adapted for visitors in wheelchairs or baby strollers, but the rest of Kinderdijk is. Wheelchairs can be rented free of charge for visitors who need them. Those with a disabled card can also park for free.

In short, the Kinderdijk resort is a charming and unique site that offers visitors the opportunity to explore the rich history of Dutch windmills, enjoy stunning landscapes and immerse themselves in the culture and hydraulic engineering of the Netherlands.

Report sponsored by PICTOREM

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