For more than 700 years the Kinderdijk windmills have helped to manage the water in the Netherlands. The whole area is below sea level, it takes a lot of water and wind to keep the area dry. A clever piece of Dutch history that shows off on the Unesco World Heritage list. Visiting Kinderdijk, is an absolute must for culture and nature lovers!
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The history of the mills of Kinderdijk
The 19 famous windmills of Kinderdijk are located in the polders of the Alblasserwaard. A thousand years ago, this area was peat bog, where hunters and fishermen could only go in the summer when the water was low enough.
Soon man discovered the fertile soil in the area, and more and more houses were built in the area. To protect the houses and keep the water out, dikes were built, so a solution had to be found to let the ground and rainwater drain away.
The water from the Alblasserwaard was drained to Kinderdijk by means of watercourses and ditches, as this was the lowest point of the area. By means of sluices, they let the water flow out into the lek at low tide, a technological leap in the water management system that still does its work today.
However, the water continued to fight back; while the peat bottom continued to drop, the river level continued to rise. In 1942, the infamous St. Elizabeth Flood destroyed the poorly maintained dikes that protected the polder, killing thousands of people.
This, according to the legend, is how the name Kinderdijk originated. After the flood, when residents dared to go outside again, they saw a small crib along the dike, in which a child was crying. The baby was rescued. Most likely, this is how the name Kinderdijk was born.
As if the disaster of the St. Elisabeth Flood was not bad enough, more and more power was needed to counteract subsidence and bring the water from the polders to the river. The water authorities realized that only mills could address this problem.
The origins of the Kinderdijk mills
An ever-improving system of windmills and pumping stations was constructed over the centuries.
The boezems, where the water is discharged into the polder water with no fixed level, catch the excess water. Windmills are used to pump back the water that flows from the high to the low storage basins in dry times. Twenty mills, nineteen of which can still be admired today, stood in for the land and water around Kinderdijk.
With the steam engine came a new powerful technology to support Kinderdijk against the force of the water. Nevertheless, the mills remained important and must (still) remain ready for use in the event of a power failure or other disasters that could cause the current machine to fail. To this day, many people still live in the nature reserve.
You can visit Kinderdijk every day of the year all year round, both during the day and at night you can admire the Unesco World Heritage Site.
The opening hours of the mills of Kinderdijk are from 9:30 am to 5:30 pm.
Can you visit Kinderdijk without tickets?
You do not need to have an entrance ticket to visit the Kinderdijk windmills. It is a beautiful area where you can enjoy hiking and biking.
However, if you also want to explore the inside of the mills, it is best to buy a ticket in advance online.
There are two mills turned into a museum that you can visit with a ticket.
- In the Museummolen Blokweer you will discover the habits and practices of the miller from the 1950’s.
- In Museummolen Nederwaard from 1738 you can admire a photo exhibition with snapshots from history.
Kinderdijk audio tour
Pro tip – Get even more out of your visit to the Kinderdijk windmills, install the free Kinderdijk app and enjoy an audio tour.
You can listen to the audio tour by entering the number of your entrance ticket, be sure not to forget your earplugs.
When is the best time to visit Kinderdijk?
The best time to be visiting Kinderdijk is at sunrise or sunset. At these times there are also fewer tourists in the area and you avoid the crowds. You will also take the most beautiful pictures of the windmills during golden hour.
Hiking in Kinderdijk
Walk between the windmills on the Middelkade. The trail goes right through the Overwaard and Nederwaard. Parallel to a part of the Middelkade runs the beautiful nature trail, through which you can admire the mills of the Overwaard even closer. Here you will also enjoy the numerous bird species that can be found in the area.
The most beautiful spot is without a doubt the view with five mills in a row on the Blokweersche bridge, especially at sunrise, this is the place to admire the mills in full glory.
How to get to Kinderdijk – transportation
By car to UNESCO World Heritage Site Kinderdijk.
- From Rotterdam it takes 25 minutes
- From Amsterdam it takes 1h20 minutes
- From Antwerp it takes one hour and twenty minutes
- From Brussels it takes 1h50
Park your car on the Marineweg in Alblasserdam. Buy your parking ticket online together with your entrance ticket. Only permit holders may park in the village of Kinderdijk.
From the parking lot on Marineweg take the shuttle bus to the entrance of the mill area daily between 9am and 6pm.
Address: Marineweg 3, Alblasserdam
Parking price: 7.5 euros
Visiting Kinderdijk by public transport
Bus Rotterdam – Kinderdijk – Line 489
- Starting point Rotterdam Kralingse Zoom
- 35 minutes travel time to Kinderdijk Molenkade
- Runs twice an hour, seven days a week
Park at the water bus stop in Rotterdam, and in half an hour you sail from the Erasmus Bridge to the entrance of the Kinderdijk windmills.
Hotels near Kinderdijk
Slapen in de Molen
This sustainable accommodation will complete your visit to Kinderdijk. Each room has a luxurious double bed and a private bathroom. In addition, the mill has a fitness center, free private parking, a garden, and a terrace.
At Guesthouse Rodenburg you will be delightfully pampered. The accommodation has a well-equipped kitchen, and a garden and offers free Wi-Fi. The accommodation also provides bicycle rental.
BnB ’t Ambacht
In this wonderfully authentic bed and breakfast, you will feel right at home. The rooms have air conditioning and free WIFI. Every morning you will enjoy a continental breakfast here. In the surroundings, you can make excellent cycling trips.
Mainport Design Hotel Rotterdam
This five-star accommodation is located in the heart of Rotterdam. Ideal for those who want to combine a visit to Kinderdijk with a city trip. The hotel is situated on the river Maas and has its own jetty so you can also get there by boat cab. The accommodation has spacious luxurious rooms, a spa, and an indoor pool.