Kinderdijk is a UNESCO World Heritage site famous for its unique collection of 19 authentic windmills, an icon of Dutch culture known the world over and one of my favourite tourist spots in the Netherlands.
Most of the Kinderdijk windmills are ‘grondzeilers’ or ‘ground sail windmills’, named that way because of the way the sales almost touch the ground. There is a difference between the windmills in the Nederwaard water management district and the Overwaard water management district – although I shan’t go in to list such differences and to me all are beautiful regardless to where their water wheels is situated.
Fun Windmill Facts:
- The cross position or long rest position is seen when the windmill is out of action.
- The ‘plus sign’ is the operating position. The windmill will be stopped for a short time. In this short rest position, the miller can climb straight into the bottom sail to fix the sail-cloth.
- When the bottom sail is in front of the mill and the top sail is almost but not quite at its highest point, the sails are communicating ‘joy’. This position of celebration and can announce birth or marriage, symbolising that the high point is yet to come.
- When the bottom sail is slightly past the mill and the top sail has moved past the highest point, the sails are communicating ‘grief’. When the miller or a family member or neighbour has died, the windmill remains in this position for some time. It is customary for the windmill to be turned slowly during the funeral, so the cross-beams follow the funeral procession.
- On festive occasions, the miller strings up lines of small flags between the ends of the windmill sails. This celebratory custom takes place to mark special occasions, such as a wedding. The flags do not keep the windmill from running.
My first visit to Kinderdijk was back in 2013. It is such a magical and photogenic place. I’ve seen it in both the winter and in the summer now and it always excited me and takes my breath away.
To see the mills in fine shape, the tourists flocking to pose for photos next to such iconic landmarks and the green fields that reach the horizon its a real treat.
We started our visit with a quick hot chocolate at the visitors centre before a slow steady walk along the water taking numerous selfies and chatting about nonsense.
For the first time in all my years I went inside the mills, reconstructed as they were in the 18 Century the museum fostered conversation of the logistics of living in a mill. An idea I had talked myself into and out of in a matter of minutes.