So, you're in the Netherlands. That means you've seen windmills practically everywhere, right? Funnily enough, I recently found out there are a few windmills left that are still alive and kicking today. On the one hand, it seems cheesy and touristy, but on the other hand, it’s interesting to see one from the inside!
Obviously, there are a few “proper” windmill-landscapes, like Kinderdijk. Windmills you see scattered around the landscape are usually pumping stations from the 18th century, built to keep the polders dry and adjust the wet Dutch countryside. However, you do not have to leave Rotterdam for your Dutch Icon experience. In my case, we didn’t even have to leave the neighbourhood.
Windmills of Rotterdam
In Kralingse Bos, you'll find the Lelie (Lily) and the Ster (Star). In Hillegersberg Noord, there's the Prince Windmill (Prinsenmolen). In Zestienhoven, there's a windmill called the Speelman (Musician). Nearby, in Molenlaankwartier you'll find the Vier Winden (Four Winds) and across the river in Oud Charlois, the Zandweg (Sand Road). For a total overview of Rotterdam's many windmills check out the Wikipedia page (Dutch).
There are also three mills, no longer equipped with blades, like the Hope. Yeah, I know, the name is not very fitting.
Visit a windmill
Some, like the Distileerketel (Distillery Kettle) in Delfshaven have opening hours. I can really recommend that one: It is cosy and lovely. The people who run it are delightful and you can get a tour during opening hours. You can be sure to find open doors on Wednesday and Saturday. During the summer months, on Sunday as well.
If you rock up during opening hours, you can get a tour for a few quid through the whole tower of the windmill. Between 12:00 -17:00 is always a safe bet but check their website to be sure. Learn more about the secret way the windmills can be used to communicate, the things they used to mill – e.g. how they make expensive blue paper and how the millers daringly climb into the mill to adjust the “sails.”
If you dare, step out on the platform and enjoy the view, or take some pictures. If you don’t want to go up, buy some flour (it’s as fresh as it gets, cause that's its primary function these days) or have a cup of tea and a ginger biscuit. The lady who runs it (Virginia I suppose since it's Virginia's kitchen) knows how to make them crisp and spicy in just the right way.
P.S. with a Rotterdam Pass, you can get a big discount on the tour.
A word to the wise: the stairs are no more than a ladder. They are steep and some things like trap doors are fully functioning. The platform of the windmill has a fence, but it looked more like a suggestion to me. So, if you are not sure your children are up for a climb or have a phase of not listening, do reconsider. If not, the windmill people are not fussy about children. My five-year-old and two-year-old were allowed up, no problem. Even when my two-year-old threw a fit, because she didn’t want to leave the grinding stone, they were super helpful. I don’t know why the grinding stone was so attractive, maybe you only understand if you are two. Anyway, you can also hire their canoe and explore nearby waters. I do assume that other windmills also offer boats since most of them are close to the canals.
I am sure to revisit both of them!