Along with wooden clogs and fields of budding tulips, the windmill is a true symbol of the Netherlands. Each year, visitors from around the world escape to the Dutch countryside for a glimpse of the many majestic sail-adorned buildings that have become the nation’s pastoral landmarks. To acknowledge the cultural importance of windmills across the country, the Netherlands will celebrate National Mill Day on the weekend of 13th-14th May 2016, an annual festival that sees 950 wind and watermills open their doors to visitors. To help you explore some of these iconic constructions, we’ve chosen some of the most beautiful windmills near Amsterdam that you can explore yourself.
The UNESCO World Heritage Site of Kinderdijk is a spectacular first stop on your windmill weekend, and can be found a short drive from Rotterdam port on your way to Amsterdam. A stunning collection of 19 authentic windmills can be found here, which date back all the way to the 18th century. You can even meet a real life miller here, sure to be dressed in traditional clogs and blue overalls, and peek inside the well-preserved mechanisms of what was once a genuine working mill.
The Sloten Windmill
As well as being the only windmill in Amsterdam open to the public daily, the Sloten Windmill has become an icon of the skyline in the area. Located on the outskirts of the city, the windmill was once the pride of the 1,000-year-old village of Sloten before it became part of Amsterdam. The reconstructed mill uses material dating back to 1847 and the passionate team of volunteers bring its story to life with every visit.
Just to the north of Amsterdam is the historic village of Zaanse Schans. With its array of traditional homes, workshops and green meadows, you’ll be transported back into what the Netherlands was like in the 18th century. The sails of 10 mills here still continue to turn in the wind, attracting millions each year who want to see firsthand the historic buildings that continue to grind oil, flowers and spices. The Molen de Zoeker in particular is the only remaining working oil mill in the world, making it a must-see.
De Gooyer Windmill
The tallest wooden mill in the Netherlands, the De Gooyer Windmill is the sole remaining grain mill of five that once existed in this part of downtown Amsterdam. While the building’s interior is not open to the public as it has since been converted into a private home, its city centre location still makes it well worth a visit. You can enjoy a fantastic view of this grand windmill while relaxing with a beverage from the great local brewery Brouwerij ‘t IJ, which is situated just next door.
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