Land of windmills
The Netherlands has been famous for its windmills since the 15th century. They are a symbol of our ongoing battle with water and of the typical polder landscape of the Netherlands.
A small piece of history
Zuid-Holland has more windmills than any other province in the country, around 224 to be precise. Once upon a time, however, it had many more, boasting some 1275 windmills in the middle of the 19th century.
Windmills have been very important to the economy of Holland over the course of time. Not only have they been used to grind grain into flour but also to drain water out of polders.
There were also sawmills which, powered by wind energy, cut planks for use in shipbuilding. This helped the Republic of the United Netherlands to build up a large navy, fishing and merchant fleet, which made intensive overseas trade with distant countries such as China possible.
The advent of the steam engine in the 19th century signalled the beginning of the end for many windmills. Their number quickly declined, but fortunately many were preserved.
Organisations and volunteers alike work hard to keep these unique examples of Holland’s cultural inheritance both maintained and open. It is thanks to their efforts that there are still so many windmills to see and visit in Zuid-Holland today.
More about windmills