During my city trip in Rotterdam I made an afternoon trip to the mills in Kinderdijk-Elshout. The journey from Rotterdam to this UNESCO World Heritage Site is particularly exciting for me.
It’s my first time on Waterbus. The ride with the Waterbus to the mills in Kinderdijk-Elshout is a nice tour over the Nieuwe Maas in good weather. In my case, however, this was a trip that took a little longer than planned.
I relaxed so much during the trip over the water that I missed the stop to change trains. So of course I had to continue to the end point: Dordrecht.
After a short time it went back again. At the stop Ridderkerk, De Schans, I got off and took the Driehoeksveer to Kinderdijk. But I enjoyed sailing across the river Noord. So sponge it and look at the mills.
The mills in Kinderdijk-Elshout
The first view of the site is fascinating. But also the function of the mills surprises me. The 19 mills from the 18th century are not intended for grinding flour. They have played an important role in the history of land reclamation in the Netherlands.
The wooden windmills of the Overwaard (built in 1740) use a paddle wheel to pump water from the lower basin to the upper basin.
What I may not believe when looking at the outside: Inside the mills there is enough space for a miller and his whole family.
Kinderdijk mills are unique in the world in this form. This is why they have been a UNESCO World Heritage Site since 1997:
The outstanding contribution of the Dutch population to water management technology is admirably demonstrated by the installations in the Kinderdijk-Elshout area. The construction of hydraulic plants for drainage of land for agriculture and settlement began in the Middle Ages and has continued uninterrupted until today. The mill complex illustrates all the typical features of this technology -- dikes, reservoirs, pumping stations, administration buildings and a number of beautifully preserved windmills. UNESCO World Heritage Commission
Boat tour through the Kinderdijk mills
There is a hiking trail and a cycle path that you can use for your walk or tour. In addition, a hop-on-hop-off boat swings through the facility. You can also take a boat trip. With this, you shovel once through the whole plant.
I decide for this boat tour, which costs 5,- Euro. In summer the boat runs from 1 April to 1 October. I’ll take the photos from the boat, too. Because in this weather, I don’t walk the whole plant.
The jetty is just behind the entrance. The journey takes about half an hour. It is possible daily from 10:00 to 17:00. But now it’s “Cast off!”
Besides the “normal” mills, in some of which millers still live, there are also two mills, which house a small museum.
Mill Museum Blokweer
In this museum you get an insight into the life of a miller. Here you can see how the water wheel mill transports the water more than one meter to the next basin.
Mill Museum Nederwaard
The stone windmills of Nederwaard transport the water to the upper basin. One of the mills houses the Nederwaard Mill Museum. In it you can experience how Müller Hoek lived with his wife and 13(!) children.
But the mills and their history are not the only things to discover in the mill complex. Instead, you can learn about the entire history of drainage in this region in the visitor centre.
The visitor centre is housed in the former Wisboom pumping station, which from 1868 supported the mills in their drainage with a steam pump. In 1924 they got electric pumps.
Here is also one of the investors for the hop-on-hop-off boat. When you walk from the pump house back in the direction of the ferry, you will surely notice the big screw winch. It is part of the J.U. Smitgemaal pumping station. A computer-controlled diesel pump has been operating here since 1972.
Here, water levels are now compared in real time with weather forecasts to calculate the amount of water to be pumped.
Conclusion of my visit to the mills in Kinderdijk-Elshout
The whole area itself is something special. So many mills in a row also produce beautiful photo motifs. Especially as they are picturesquely situated by the water. The Dutch landscape painters Jan van Goyen or Jan Both would have enjoyed this sight.
The task of the mills is also interesting. But I am of the opinion that one could make more of the mill plant. Surely it is a nice destination for cyclists or hikers. But more information, boards or a rentable audio guide would be fine.
In bad weather it offers hardly any possibilities to do something useful. So it is best to study the weather forecast in advance.
However, you should have seen the mills in Kinderdijk-Elshout. They are unique in this form and not for nothing UNESCO World Heritage.
I found another nice video for you -- with a flight over Kinderdijk’s mill in beautiful weather and rotating windmills.
Entrance fees, opening hours and further information about the mills in Kinderdijk-Elshout
The most important information about the mills in Kinderdijk-Elshout can be found in this list.
- Entrance to the mills
- Entrance to the museum mill
- Adults: 7,50 Euro
- Children (4-12 years): 5,50 Euro
- Tickets are available at the entrance or directly at the museum mill
- Visit to the pumping station included
- Hours of operation
- daily 9:00 to 17:00 o’clock
- Café De Molenhoek is located directly at the entrance to the mill. It also includes a souvenir shop.
- There are other ways to stop at the ferry terminal.
- Parking is limited and costs 5,- Euro.
- Highlight of the mills in Kinderdijk-Elshout
- The mills are illuminated in the first week of September.
Trip with the Waterbus to the mill in Kinderdijk-Elshout
The trip from Rotterdam to Kinderdijk costs 8,- Euro. Since I missed the right exit, here the drive to the mill a bit more detailed:
- With the Waterbus Lijn 20
- Rotterdam Erasmusbrug stop to Ridderkerk De Schans stop (journey time approx. 30 minutes)
- By ferry Driehoeksveer
- Ridderkerk De Schans stop to Kinderdijk Molenkade (journey time 7-10 minutes)
Of course you can also make an excursion to Dordrecht in the morning and then visit the mill in Kinderdijk-Elshout on the way back in the afternoon.