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Windmills , Windturbines


11,000 mills

One hundred and twenty years ago there were about 11,000 mills. Those mills have made Holland great. Once 600 mills were in operation for the Zaanstreek industry near Amsterdam.

With the improvement of soil hydrology and the coming of steam and diesel pumping-engines, electricity and urban expansion, many mills lost their functions and disappeared.

Holland, land of mills

Our country still boasts beautiful mills which are now cherished because of the growing interest in our cultural-historic heritage. Every year there is the National Windmillday during which about 600 mills are in operation and open to the public. If you are in the Netherlands in May, this is the perfect opportunity to see mills in operation Aldous Huxley’s geometrical ballet . What Aldous Huxley, while travelling through North Holland in the twenties observed, “ Along the level skyline a score of windmills wave their arms like dancers in a geometrical ballet” can still be seen in Kinderdijk. HollandThe RideWay takes you to these World Heritage mills.

Greatest mills on earth

In the Dutch gin city where around 1880 there were no less than 392 distilleries, we see the mighty malt or distillery mills rising high above the houses; the top of the sail of mill De Noord reaches as high as 44.6 metres.

Corn mills

There are still about a thousand windmills to be found in our country and many of them still grind the corn, as for example “De windotter” which grinds for the traditional fresh bakeries in the area. Formerly the mills processed cacao, paintwood, chalk, husked barley, made paper, sawed wood and last but not least, pumped out lakes and controlled the polderwater level.

Windmills still pumping water

Holland’s only flight mill which still has a clear hydraulic function is in the low-lying clay area of the western part of the Netherlands. HollandTheRideWay enables you to visit this mill in which the miller is still living. The Windmill museum , an authentic poldermill of the Golden age in a flight mill shows you the working of a mill in all its aspects.


North Holland, land reclaimed by windmills

This series of several mills can be the starting point of a tour through North Holland’s reclaimed lakes.

Masterpieces of windmill construction

HollandTheRideWay can also show you very special examples of mills in other parts of the country , as for example an octagonal thatched smock windmill with inside trundle and scaffold on a square understructure and a sawmill.


There are now eleven wind turbine parks in the Netherlands. They are concentrated in the flat rather bare western and northern parts of the country on the seaward side of the land where the winds are strong.

The average windspeed has to be at least 5 metres per second at a height of 10 metres.


Lack of space

Because of the density of population in the Netherlands it is difficult to find suitable locations for windturbine parks. Many windturbines parks have been built in areas that are not much frequented by people , such as remote docklands and industrial zones. Many people feel an aversion towards the big windturbines because of their noise pollution, visual pollution of the landscape and the threat to bird migration and breeding and forage areas.

Windturbines fitted into the landscape

Nevertheless , in placing windturbines every effort is made to allow for the structure of the landscape, for example by placing turbines along a canal or dike as one can see along the IJsselmeerdikes or along the Noordholland canal. Plans have also been made for a series of windturbines along the Afsluitdijk (IJsselmeer Dam) , along the Frisian northwestern coast and at the North Sea.
Meanwhile the North Sea plan has been realised. The offshore wind park
"Egmond aan Zee'' was put into operation in april 2007 by his royal
highness, Prince Willem-Alexander of the Netherlands.

Delta works windturbines

During a visit to the Delta Works, HollandTheRideWay can show you some parks in the western and southwestern coastal area, for example Windpark Neeltje Jans and Windpark Roggenplaat.

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© illustration: Lex Tempelman

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