What is the very first association with the Netherlands when you think of it – is it tulips, cheese markets, traditional houses, pottery made of Royal Delft, innovative water-management? For me personally, it has always been tranquility, millions of bicycles and clogs - traditional wooden shoes, mini-version of which my sister brought home from her trip to Holland when I was little. Whatever that is – as we could mention many more examples – today let us focus on a worldwide-known Dutch icon and landscape feature – windmills.
pictures found on publicdomainpictures.net & delftsblauwaardewerk.com
I’m truly happy to present the postcard that opens the ’52 postcards’ project. It was sent by Moniek from the Netherlands, whom I’d like to thank with all my heart. It’s an exquisite view of the windmills village and Unesco World Heritage Site – Kinderdijk.
See what Moniek herself wrote us:
The Netherlands is famous for its windmills – more than 1 000 are still there nowadays. Nowhere in the world you can find as many of them in one place as near beautiful village Kinderdijk – with 19 magnificent and well-preserved windmills. Kinderdijk is at a distance of only 16 kilometers from Rotterdam and a little bit less than 10 kilometers from the city border of the oldest city in the region, Dordrecht. The mills drain the excess of water from the Alblasserwaard polder; then all of the excessive water supplies the Rijn river.
The country, which is approximately the size of the US states Connecticut and Massachusetts combined, has about 27% of land actually below the sea level; at the same time this area is home to over 60% of the overall population. It’s an example of remarkable water management and techniques of reclaiming the land from the sea. Let’s take a glimpse of how it looks like: firstly a dike is built around a large area covered with water, then the water is completely pumped out of the section. A place created this way is called a polder, which can be used for farming and industrial purposes. The process of draining is possible by using a windmill or mechanical pumps. The main advantage of a mill is that it requires renewable (and free) energy of the wind, not fuel. On the other hand, the wind is not a factor we can rely on totally and also it has less power and it’s slower than a mechanical pump.
|postcard sent by Moniek, thank you!|
Construction of hydraulic works for agriculture and settlement began in the Middle Ages and have continued uninterruptedly to the present day. The installations here illustrate all the typical features associated with this technology – apart from windmills there are also dykes, reservoirs or pumping stations to admire. Although they went out of use in the late 1940s, all 19 mills are still maintained in operating condition, because they function as fall-back mills in case of failure of the modern equipment. So far as the landscape is concerned, the other most striking feature is the evidence that the medieval land-tenure system is still present in two areas. This is a landscape that has not changed significantly for centuries.The mills are lined up in two opposite rows and form a spectacular sight. The unique character was rewarded with a Unesco recognition in 1997, filling 3 criteria of inscription (I, II and IV).
The name Kinderdijk is Dutch for "Children's dike" and comes from a folktale. It is said that when the terrible storm had subsided, someone went to the dike near the polder to see what could be saved. He saw a wooden cradle floating in the distance. When the cradle came nearer, someone saw quiet and dry baby sleeping there safely.
The good news is that visiting the famous 17th century windmills is free. The area has nice infrastructure of roads, walking- and cycling paths (you can go straight to Rotterdam from there on a bike). Apart from walking or cycling, canal cruises are organized – each of them lasts for about 30 minutes and doesn’t require any reservations. Horse and carriage tours are quite famous too & you can also see Kinderdijk from the air.
|stamp that came with the postcard|
In July and August you can witness how all nineteen mills still operate; while during wintertime you can capture picturesque moments when families ice-skate along the Kinderdijk. Also, during 2nd week of September every year, the windmills are lighted at night, which is called ‘mills in floodlight’. This attracts many visitors from all over the world. During the tourist season one of the windmills is opened for visitors - anyone can get a pretty good idea about the functioning of the mechanisms and the lifestyle back then while visiting.
It is said that a photo album of your trip to the Netherlands isn’t complete without a photograph of the windmills at Kinderdijk. Looking at the postcard we shouldn’t have any doubts. :)