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Kinderdijk is a World Heritage site, where 19 windmills are preserved, all built around the early 1740s. These windmills are all used for water management (throughout Holland, Dutch people pay a special water tax to support the water authority). 

This is in contrast to the mills we visited in Zaanse Schans, which were part of what you could think of as a large industrial park of about 1000 windmills in the 18thC where the mills were used to cut timber, grind spices, make linseed oil, or other products. 

 Some mills were to lift water from the canals in the fields to larger canals, another group lifted to yet larger and higher canals, and the last set lifted to the River Lek (aka the Rhine). 

The mills had fallen into disrepair, when the Queen saw them, and started the effort to restore and maintain this piece of Dutch history.

We took a short boat trip along the big canal looking a windmills close up. All but one of the windmills, reachable only by bicycle, is lived in by families. For someone to live in a windmill, they have to be a qualified miller. In return for low rent, they agree to keep the windmills in good shape; hence all the flowers. I guess if you want to preserve a site as it was in the 18thC and attract tourists, you want things to be pretty. They also agree to operate the mill for 60 hours a year, to ensure they stay in working order. 

The maintenance for one mill runs 15,000 euros/year and the money comes from a foundation supporting the mills and other donations. 

Despite being rather touristy, the visit was interesting and enlightening.

As we left, I took a picture of the modern approach to lifting water, big turbines and an Archimedes screw.


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