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Tuesday, November 12, 2013

THE WINDMILLS OF KINDERDIJK--ANOTHER AMAZEMENT IN THE NETHERLANDS

Kinderkijk, The Netherlands
Kinderdijk, a windmill paradise!
I've already said how I found Amsterdam to be an amazingly interesting city.  The whole of the Netherlands has an incredibly marvelous history that applauds man’s ingenuity and genius.  Here is a country of more than 14,000 square miles where there have been archeological finds going back to the Roman times, but no evidence of settlement.  Even today, 25% of the country is below sea level. 

Yet Holland was once a great power.  In its strongest period, the Dutch East India Company commanded a huge portion of the world’s trade; the country had colonies, and, of course, my own hometown, Manhattan, was once New Amsterdam.  Place names still recall the Dutch influence.

Kinderkijk, The Netherlands
Picturesque and peaceful
For many, the country is famous for its windmills, and UNESCO named one area in the Netherlands, Kinderdijk, a World Heritage Site because nowhere is there such a concentration of windmills. We got to visit.

Windmills were introduced from Mesopotamia in the 16th century, and Kinderdijk actually had a windmill dating from 1521.  It burned in 1997 but has been restored and operational since 2000. There are also eight windmills from 1738, eight from 1740, and two from 1760. 

The land in the Netherlands is reclaimed from the water via dikes and windmills.  Dikes are constructed around a body of water, and then the water is pumped out by the windmill creating a polder, a stretch of land that might be used for farming or industrial purposes.  The pumping continues into and out of reservoirs until it can be dumped into a river that leads to the sea. 

Kinderkijk, The Netherlands There used to be over 10,000 windmills in the Netherlands.  Today there are approximately 1,000 left, the task passed down to mechanical pumps.  A pumping station in Kinderdijk, reputed to be the largest in the world, has taken over this never-ending job.  But the windmills in Kinderdijk were operational until WWII and still can be used in case of emergency.

Kinderkijk, The Netherlands
Imagine raising a family in here.
Notice the blades are only a foot off the ground.
People lived inside the windmills—a very difficult life—and raised their families there.  That’s hard to imagine as the insides seem far too confined.  If you have the opportunity to visit Kinderdijk, you will be flabbergasted at the idea of raising a family of ten or twelve inside. 

What I’d like to share are pictures of the windmills of Kinderdijk.  They’re graceful and awe-inspiring.  You’ll immediately see the beauty of this World Heritage Site.




Kinderkijk, The Netherlands

Kinderkijk, The Netherlands

Kinderkijk, The Netherlands

Kinderkijk, The Netherlands
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