These 19 windmills are a UNESCO World Heritage Site
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Kinderdijk is a village in South Holland known for its windmills. In fact, it is one of the best places in the Netherlands to see still working windmills. The highlights are the old windmills that have been functioning for more than 100 years to move the water of the Lek River.
The 19 windmills of Kinderdijk are worth a visit. These windmills are close to Rotterdam and are in very good condition. You can see the ingenious way used for centuries to monitor the water level.
This is the only place in the world can you see so many traditional windmills that are still working. The mills have been at Kinderdijk since 1738. Read my best tips for visiting the Kinderdijk windmills. With all the attractions, tips, and hikes.
Kinderdijk has been on the UNESCO World Heritage List since 1997. The reason is the sustainable technology without interfering too much with nature. And that for centuries. This statement applies to the entire area.
The listing is officially known as: Windmills of Kinderdijk-Elshout. This is special because Elshout is the original name of the village. Where the current name Kinderdijk originated from is not entirely clear. There are various stories about the origin. Read below to find the best attractions at Kinderdijk, and the best suggestions for tours.
A visit to the visitor centre is especially helpful if you want to learn more about the area, the mills and their history. There is an explanatory video in the pumping station De Fabriek. As well as information about the various hikes you can take.
You can also see the historic water pump and see how it works. You will find the visitor center in Overwaard, which is one of the four parts in Kinderdijk. It is a perfect start for your trip, and it's useful for planning your visit.
The Nederwaard is the old water board. And according to many, it is the most beautiful part of Kinderdijk. You can see 8 round mills, neatly in a row. They are made of stone and have a thatched roof. These are also still functional. Inside is a water wheel with which they pump water upwards. One of the mills is now a museum where you can see what the life of a miller and his family was like.
There are currently two windmills in the Nieuw-Lekkerland polder. There used to be three. These octagonal mills still pump water today. They use the screw method instead of a wheel for this.
There are 8 windmills on the Overwaard. Like the windmills of Nieuw-Lekkerland, they are octagonal but have a thatched roof. Just like the Nederwaard windmills. These also have an internal water wheel, with which lower-lying water is pumped upwards.
The Blokweer Polder Mill functions as a museum. This hollow post mill is different. The Blokweer windmill has a brick base, the water wheel stills pumps the water up. More than a meter in fact.
The Waardhuis in Kinderdijk has the official Gemeenlandshuis van de Overwaard. The Gemeenlandshuis housed the ruling Water Authority for a long time. The Gemeenlandshuis at Kinderdijk is the only one remaining in the entire Alblasserwaard. It dates back to 1581 and is in good condition.
You can visit the museum, it is best known for the many engraved show glasses. The Hens cup of the Overwaard is the showpiece. Note the door with a beautiful frame. You will find the house at the mills.
A special way to get to Kinderdijk is by water bus. You can sail to Kinderdijk from the Erasmus Bridge in Rotterdam, Krimpen aan de IJssel, Ridderkerk, or Dordrecht. It takes 40 minutes from the Erasmus Bridge. The water bus stops at Molenkade, so it’s perfect for exploring the area on your own.
There are various boat trips in Kinderdijk. The mills look impressive from the water. You can also take pictures that most don’t have. You can get information about the sailing times at the various information centres. You can buy tickets for the boat online. So that you know for sure that you have a seat.
One of the most popular excursions is the hop on hop off boat. It stops at four places to disembark and board again later on. This is perfect to view everything at your leisure, but also to experience Kinderdijk from the water. You can buy your ticket at the ticket office or online.
The wetland area is perfect for a walk. The most popular route is the 7.5 km Kinderdijkpad hike. This one runs past most of the mills. You can start at Molenkade in Alblasserdam, but also at the place where the Water Bus moors or from the visitor center.
The 19 mills are beautifully lit up for a week every year. They are highlighted in the landscape. It is remarkable to watch, and is a great opportunity for photos. The windmills stand like gatekeepers in the vast countryside of Kinderdijk.
It is best to arrive before sunset and then watch them turn on one by one. The light will change constantly. Kinderdijk Illumination Week is usually at the beginning of the month of September.
Kinderdijk is a playground for photographers. The preferred time is early morning or when the sun goes down. This is when the light is soft and there are few tourists. Very good photos can be taken during the day as well.
At both Kinderdijk and Zaanse Schans, you can see countless windmills in a typical Dutch landscape. I often get the question which is the most beautiful. But that’s tricky. Both attractions are similar but quite different. These are the main differences:
The Kinderdijk windmills were only used for one purpose: water management. The mills have numbers, not names. It runs from Mill 1 to Mill 19.
Kinderdijk is generally much quieter than Zaanse Schans, you will find far fewer foreign tourists. This is probably due to the location as many tourists also visit Amsterdam. And therefore they choose Zaanse Schans.
The area of Kinderdijk is more interesting, according to photographers, because you can take better landscape photos. With fewer disturbances from tourists.
I think Kinderdijk is more authentic. You will hardly find any souvenir shops and other modern tourist businesses. Making it look much more like a few centuries ago.
The windmills of Zaanse Schans were used for countless purposes, such as pressing oil, for making paint, and grinding spices. But also for water management around Zaandijk.
The windmills in Zaanse Schans have real names and not numbers. The Zaanse Schans has one big issue, it can be completely flooded with tourists. It gets very busy, especially on weekends and school holidays. Which means the quaint atmosphere is gone.
Zaanse Schans has the appearance of a tourist attraction. This is due to the various shops with all kinds of knick-knacks. But the visit here can be more intense as you can experience, see and learn a lot more.
A visit to Kinderdijk is free. Except for a visit to the mills that are museums. Tickets purchased online are cheaper, so it is useful to arrange this in advance.
Kinderdijk is easily accessible by car and public transport. The easiest way is by bus or by water bus. In both cases, you save parking money.