A Blog by International Students at Leiden University
Just then they came in sight of thirty or forty windmills that rise from that plain. And no sooner did Don Quixote see them that he said to his squire, “Fortune is guiding our affairs better than we ourselves could have wished. Do you see over yonder, friend Sancho, thirty or forty hulking giants? I intend to do battle with them and slay them. With their spoils we shall begin to be rich for this is a righteous war and the removal of so foul a brood from off the face of the earth is a service God will bless.”
“What giants?” asked Sancho Panza.
“Those you see over there,” replied his master, “with their long arms. Some of them have arms well nigh two leagues in length.”
“Take care, sir,” cried Sancho. “Those over there are not giants but windmills. Those things that seem to be their arms are sails which, when they are whirled around by the wind, turn the millstone.”
—Part 1, Chapter VIII. Of the valourous Don Quixote’s success in the dreadful and never before imagined Adventure of the Windmills, with other events worthy of happy record.
A certain Don Quixote, created by the Spanish author Miguel de Cervantes believed the windmills to be ferocious giants and subsequently attacked it. In the modern day world I strongly suspect that the Don Quixote would be faced with a similar situation if he were to stumble upon Kinderdijk in the Netherlands.
Never before have I seen a place which has windmills in such vast numbers. This is also one of the most beautiful places which I have visited during my stay in Holland. After coming to Kinderdijk one realises that the most ‘Dutch’ pictures which one can find throughout the world depicts Kinderdijk. This is a great spot to see windmills out in the countryside. A UNESCO World Heritage site, it has 19 windmills strung out on both sides of canals, which you can wander by foot or bike.
I walked around the place for about a couple of hours soaking in the ambience of the Dutch country side and later took a boat trip in the canals of Kinderdijk. I also noticed that Kinderdijk is truly the holy grail for windmill lovers. It is home to some of the most important types of windmills such as the hollow post mills and rotating cap mills. The latter are among the highest in the country as they were built to better catch the wind. The mills are kept in operating condition and date from the 18th century. The impressive collection pumped excess water from the low-lying Alblasserwaard polder and discharged it to the Lek River until the 1950s.
The boat trip through the canals of Kinderdijk is also a very interesting way to see the windmills from spectacular angles. I also came to know that one of the best times to visit the place is during wintertime when the canals freeze over and is perfect for ice skating, offering some absolutely fantastic scenery.
If you are living in Holland, this is one place which is a must visit. Wind mill paradise.