World Heritage Kinderdijk
nineteen mills from the nineteenth century
Learning how to live with water
The famous mills of Kinderdijk are towering above the Alblasserwaard polders, proudly showing off their majestic sails. Still, these historical giants form only a small part of the tremendous combined action between man, technique and nature. Thousands of years ago this whole area was one big peat bog, blocked between wild rivers and the raging sea. Hunters and fishermen only came here in summer when the water level was low.
How do we keep it dry
When the first people came to live here permanently, they built their homes on sand dunes to remain dry in case of a flood. More and more people wanted to settle on the fertile land around the trade cities in the West of Holland, which soon became wealthy. Consequently dikes were built to keep out the water from the wild rivers. However, this resulted in a new problem.
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Struggling to keep dry feet
Anyone who has ever dug a hole on the beach is familiar with the following problem: the deeper you dig, the more water flows into it. We can compare the West of Holland to this hole. Since much of the land is below sea level we need ditches, mills, sluices and dams to pump out the water.
Did you know that:
- A miller values his clogs; they are comfortable, cheap and safe.
- 15 of the 19 mills are still used as residences.
- Two of the nineteen mills are open to visitors.