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When people think of the Netherlands, they tend to conjure up traditional images of tulips, clogs, and of course, Dutch windmills. Windmills have graced the typically flat Dutch landscape for centuries, where they performed a variety of functions including the milling of grain, the sawing of wood and the pumping of water. Although the majority of Dutch windmills are now no longer in operation, many are still well worth a visit.
Below you’ll find a list of some of the finest and most interesting windmills in Holland.
Molen De Noord, Schiedam
This huge windmill in the charming little town of Schiedam is not only the tallest windmill in the Netherlands; it’s also the tallest windmill in the world! With an impressive height of some 44.8 meters (measured from the ground to the tip of the sail) it stands a full ten centimetres taller than the second tallest Dutch windmill, De Vrijheid, which also happens to be in Schiedam.
De Buitenmolen, Zevenaar
De Buitenmolen is a so-called ‘torenmolen’ (tower windmill) and dates from 1450, making it one of the oldest windmills in the Netherlands. Its architecture is thought to have been inspired by the crusaders who came across similar windmills, with rounded posts and rotating caps, during their exploration of the Mediterranean Sea.
One of the most famous and enduring images of Holland is arguably the fascinating row of windmills at Kinderdijk, which have been on the UNESCO World Heritage List since 1997. Most of the nineteen Kinderdijk windmills date from the 18th century and were used to pump water for the reclamation of land. Whilst the Kinderdijk windmills have not been in active use for over 60 years, they still serve as a backup in case their modern counterparts fail.
De Huisman, Zaanse Schans
This small Zaanse windmill is octagonal in shape and can be admired when visiting the renowned Dutch tourist attraction, the Zaanse Schans. De Huisman was erected around 1786 and has since enjoyed a rather eventful history. For the windmill was not only relocated in 1955, it also fulfilled a number of different roles including tobacco, mustard and sawmill. Today it is used to mill spices and sits atop the Pakhuis De Haan, home of a well-known spice shop.
De Valk, Leiden
The De Valk windmill was built around 1743 and is located in the centre of Leiden, just a five-minute walk from Central Station. This lovely example of a Dutch town windmill was once used to mill grain, but today serves as a delightful windmill museum. All of the windmill’s seven floors are open to the public, who can peruse a number of exhibitions in addition to a souvenir shop.
De Gooyer, Amsterdam
Even the Dutch capital city of Amsterdam boasts no less than 8 windmills. One of the most celebrated is the De Gooyer, located a brief stroll away from the Maritime Museum. Every first Saturday of each month the windmill shows off its revolving sails to spectacular effect. Should your trip not coincide with this monthly event, then a visit to the De Gooyer is still recommended, particularly as next to the beautiful windmill, is an old brewery where you can relax on a terrace and enjoy a delicious glass of Ij beer.
Typical Dutch windmill souvenirs
Searching for Dutch windmill souvenirs? Then why not pay a visit to Dutch online supermarket, Holland at Home, where you can purchase an array of Dutch gifts with a traditional windmill theme, such as clog slippers, Dutch tea bag holder, Lief! Baby Oil, and a typical Dutch greeting card? Holland at Home also stocks authentic Dutch flour that has been milled in genuine Dutch windmills, including Gijs Molenaar Farmers Cake Mix and Gijs Molenaar Pancake Flour, for a true taste of Holland.
Prefer to read this article in Dutch? Then why not visit our sister blog, Heimwee.info, specifically intended for Dutch emigrants abroad?