I think that there are a lot of Japanese who can imagine “Windmill” regarding the Netherlands. We have the scenery as a primary landscape, where windmills are lined up orderly in the countryside, and the blades are turning as the wind blows.
There are still more than 1,000 windmills in the Netherlands. It has various roles. Looking at the appearance of it and the way to mill, we can see various differences of each era when it was built. Also, its pretty designs are an excellent feature of windmills in the Netherlands.
The roles of windmills
The windmills have been taken various roles in Dutch history.
The most important role is to pump up the inland seawater and return it to the river beyond the embankment. About 25% of the land is below sea level, and every time a storm comes, seawater flows inland. It was also used to keep the reclaimed land dry, which made it possible to cultivate the grain.
In addition, windmills were used for milling, lumbering, papermaking, oil refining, etc. In this era, when the engine has not been yet invented, the life in the Netherlands was with the wind.
Structure and history of windmill
The earliest type of windmill in the Netherlands was the post mill. This type of windmill had a large upright post on which the mill’s main structure is balanced.
Tower mills having more power and smock mills used for reclamation were developed and replaced the post mills by the 19th century. After that, the use of windmills decreased due to the invention of the engine.
However, even now, there are still active windmills used for reclamation and milling in the Netherlands.
Various location you can see the windmills
The windmills of Kinderdijk
- The windmill in this area was built to pump out water between the river and the reclaimed land.
- One or two windmills of Kinderdijk are still used for reclamation.
- It was registered as a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1997.
- It is a sightseeing spot where you can see the scenery of the 18th century the Netherlands.
The Windmills of Schiedam
- The Windmills of Schiedam is the largest one in the world. The height is 33 meters.
- It was used to grind the malt which is the raw material of Genesva liquor.
- Now, it is also the mill museum ‘De Nieuwe Palmboom’ where you can know the history and the purpose of the windmills of Schiedam.
The Zaanse Schans
- The Zaanse Schans is a historical preservation district of windmills.
- It was the world’s first industrial area where more than 600 windmills were built around there.
- You can imagine of the Dutch life from the 17th to the 18th century.
Molen de Valk
- Molen de Valk is a windmill built for milling to provide raw materials for the people living in Leiden city.
- Even now the windmill can mill cereals and make it into flour and you can purchase wheat flour milled with it.