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Dutch Windmills – History and why they are so Important to Dutch Culture

Dutch Windmills of Holland are as famous as its canals, cheese, and tulips. There are hundreds of windmills that date back to 15th century, some even older than that. In their time, they served the purpose of generating electricity, pumping water, grinding etc.

But now most of them are in the list of major tourist attractions where people go to absorb the history of the country attached to the Dutch windmills.

If you ever find yourself if the Netherlands, a visit to these major windmill attractions must be on your bucket list. Not only will you get an insight into the country’s rich history, but also be able to enjoy the spectacular views and construction wonders.

Holland Windmills History and Uses

Holland Windmills History and Uses

The history of windmills in the Netherlands goes back to the early stages of this country’s development. The country is surrounded by water but it was hard to irrigate the fields. That’s where the windmills came in handy and were used to pump water to fields for irrigation.

Processes of farming like milling and grinding of grains also involved the use of windmills back then. Another main purpose was to generate electricity. In the modern world, there are so many other methods of generating electricity, but back then, windmills were the only source of making electricity for people to use.

Reshaping Holland’s Geography

Another thing the Dutch windmills were very useful for was to pump out water from swamps and marshes. As there is a lot of water in and around Holland, the occurrence of these swamps and marshes was very common. Windmills helped in pumping the water out of these areas to make them useful for farming or construction.

These windmills transformed a lot of useless pieces of land into fields, houses or other buildings. This turned the geographical shape of the country completely different from what it started out as.

The Oldest Windmill in the Netherlands

In the province of Gelderland, the Zeddam Tower Mill is the oldest of all the dutch windmills remaining in the country. Built before 1451, this windmill was the only mill in the town at that time. This made it the only option for the farmers and they were forced to bring their grains for milling and grinding at the Zeddam. The Zeddam tower mill belonged to ducal Van den Bergh family at that time.

One of the specialties of this windmill is that during the World War II, the Zeddam tower mill was used by everyone, be it enemy or friend. It not only served as a lookout tower, but also a safe house for the local people.

You can even find the radio transmitter in the attic, left there by the Canadian soldiers.

Different Types of Windmills

As these mills were the only power source and hence were used for a lot of different purposes. There seemed to be a different kind of windmill for fulfilling different tasks.

Some of the many types included hemp mills, grain mills, mustard mills, chalk mills, oil mills, cocoa mills, snuff mills, paint mills, saw mills etc. All of these served their own purpose and came in all sorts of shapes, sizes and construct.

The Structure of a Windmill

The basic construct of a windmill, or a modern wind turbine, consists of a high pole with three large rotor blades. These were and are still sources of clean energy in the Netherlands.

The difference between the types of windmills lies in the mill’s mechanics. It was set according to the task it was needed to perform for example the sawmill has saws that are arranged in such a way to turn wood into planks for shipbuilding.

Dutch Windmills Amsterdam

Although there used to be dozens of windmills in Amsterdam, there are only 8 Dutch windmills Amsterdam left. These mills were surrounded by others but they have been destroyed since they stopped being of use due to advancement in technology.

The remaining Dutch windmills in Amsterdam include the following.

De Gooyer

One of the most famous Dutch windmills is the De Gooyer, built in 1725. It served its main purpose as a corn flour mill and it is located in the city center. The mill adds to the beautiful landscape and is right next to the famous modern brewery Brouwerij ‘t IJ. It spins on the morning of the first Saturday of each month.

Riekermolen

Riekermolen

 

Built in 1636, the historic polder drainage mill is located on the bank of Amstel River. The view it provides is just out of this world. The mill spins at its specified hours on the weekend, adding more beauty to the already amazing landscape. Besides the mill, there is a statue of Rembrandt, celebrating his many sketches in the area.

Tjasker Gaasperpark

Tjasker Gaasperpark

 

Another Polder drainage mill, Tjasker is located at the Gaasperpark. It was built in 1978 for a flower exhibition, Floriade and it no longer has any purpose. The simple structure consists of only a few plants, wings and a rotor.

De Dikkert

De Dikkert

 

De Dikkert used to be a saw mill turned into a corn mill, located in Amstelveen. It still spins today as specified times and a restaurant is also located in the mill, known as the Molen De Dikkert.

De Bloem

De Bloem serve

 

d as a flour mill in its time. It has two residences attached to it and also served the purpose of an office back then. Today, one of the two residences is still in use. The mill spins today as well, though it no longer serves its purpose as a flour mill.

D’Admiraal

D'Admiraal

 

Built in 1792, D’admiraal is located at the north of a village called Buiksloot. It is the only remaining chalk mill in the Netherlands which used to crush chalk for the pain industry.

An interesting thing about the D’Admiraal is the there are two statues of lions on the roof of the mill barn, which were placed there in the honor of the owner’s deceased husband, Roelof de Leeuw which means the Lion.

De Otter

De Otter

 

De Otter was specifically designed with a mechanism to be used for sawing. In the 17th century, the area surrounding this mill, Kostverlorenvaart, had at least 49 mills. But will time, all of them were destroyed or dismantles but one.

De Roe

There are two Roe mills, 1100 Roe and 1200 Roe. Both are polder mills and their name was derived from an old measuring system called Roeden which tells how many miles they are away from the city borders. Today, the 1100 Roe is operating as a beautiful Bed and Breakfast where people go and have a great time at the historic building.

Areas Famous for Dutch Windmills in the Netherlands

Holland’s historic and interesting Dutch windmills are famous all around the world, but some areas are more famous than others. These areas include Leiden, Kinderdijk, Schiedam mills, Zaanse Schans and Alblasserwaard.

Where to See Windmills in the Netherlands

You can visit so many places all around the Netherlands to get an insight into the history of Dutch windmills. Most of the cities in Holland have an association with the famous windmills in one way or the other. There are still some places that are more famous and most visited in terms of Dutch windmills.

Kinderdijk is one of the most renowned places for watching windmills and having a good time. Having 19 windmills, the village has a place in the UNESCO world heritage list. The windmills in Kinderdijk played a vital role in reshaping the country of Netherlands.

Zaanse Schans is another famous place to watch windmills. The collection of working saw, oil, spice mills and other historic monuments is a sight to behold. But like most attractions, the crowd here can be overwhelming during the tourist season.

National Mills Day in the Netherlands

Dutch windmills hold such an important place in the Netherlands’ history that there is a special day to celebrate them. The entire country celebrates the National Mills Day every year on the second Saturday of May. The locals and tourists in Holland celebrate the event every year since 1974 and on this day, most of the Dutch windmills in Holland are spinning, fascinating tourists with the amazing view.

More than 700 mills take part in the event where there’s more than just spinning and grinding. There are food stalls, musical performances and so much more to enjoy on the National Mills Day.

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