See one of the largest collections of 18th-century windmills on this tour of Kinderdijk, a Dutch village nestled at the confluence of two rivers — the Lek and the Noord.
Kinderdijk is one of many Dutch municipalities built on polders, stretches of grassland that have been reclaimed from the sea and are separated from surrounding water by dikes. The windmills here were built as a way of draining the soil after floods regularly overwhelmed the village.
Today, you’ll see 19 of them still standing and, with your guide, you’ll spend a few hours touring around the familiar Dutch symbols. You'll hear about the history of water management and the windmills’ construction, and go inside a working windmill to understand how it keeps the land above water.
Your private driver and guide will pick you up for the drive to Kinderdijk. On the way, you’ll pass through the surrounding villages, where you’ll learn about the differences in water levels and how different communities have reacted to floods and storms throughout the centuries.
While the extensive canal systems many Dutch cities enjoy employ an age-old method of draining and controlling the water flow, over time, the canal-drained soil in Kinderdijk started settling and the rivers started rising from the 13th century. The villagers, like in many places in the Netherlands, dug canals to further control it. But, in 1421, the Saint Elizabeth Flood swallowed several Dutch villages, killing thousands, and nearly overwhelmed Kinderdijk, so new solutions were gradually introduced.
It was the 1730s before the many windmills of Kinderdijk were built to help drain the soil. As you look down the length of one of the canals today, you can see the row of remaining antique windmills receding into the distance, some wooden, some stone, and many still functional, though the current water level is mainly controlled by two modern diesel pumping stations.
Once at the site, you’ll head to the museum to learn about the history of the area and how the windmills came to be constructed. You’ll also have a chance to go inside one of the working windmills, where you’ll learn more about how it functioned when it was built, and how it works today.
If you’d like, you can take a boat tour on your own, which goes up and down the canal seeing the windmills along the way.