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26 October 2017

On December 6, Kinderdijk is set for a celebration!

Two decades of international acknowledgement as UNESCO World Heritage – we can’t just let that go by unnoticed here in Kinderdijk. Come and visit us for free on December 6, so we can congratulate each other on the little wonder of the world that we have officially had in our back yard for twenty years now!

Twenty years of appreciation for centuries of world-class accomplishment

It’s getting closer every day now, and local media have already been zooming in on it, so we thought we’d give it a little extra attention too: our twentieth UNESCO World Heritage anniversary. On December 6, the Kinderdijk World Heritage Foundation celebrates two decades of special protection, and an exceptional status as a technical and cultural marvel of human history. That sounds like a bold statement – especially for the modest Dutch type that you’re likely to find in Kinderdijk – but we proudly state it nonetheless. You don’t become World Heritage just like that, even though as local residents, we tend to overlook what made our region into a genuine Dutch showpiece. As a UN organisation, UNESCO wants to preserve the mills and waterworks of Kinderdijk for the future, because they are unique in the world. Here, the Netherlands really shakes a leg – and still manages to keep its feet dry.

It’s quite extraordinary, really, having the United Nations protect your back yard.

Exceptionally and Universally Valuable

In 1997, UNESCO has acknowledged the extraordinary nature of our windmill area by awarding us with World Heritage status. That value was documented in three Exceptional Universal Values. The mill network is “an exceptional man-made landscape, conveying a powerful example of human ingenuity and perseverance for nearly a millennium.” Generations of polder residents have been protecting our back yard for centuries, shielding it from the force of the water that surrounds us on all sides: an amazing feat of tenacious cleverness by a people strong-willed enough to want to live below sea level!

Exemplary function

The second value emphasises the exemplary function our water management has served, and still serves today. With our unique drainage mechanisms, including our windmills, sluices, waterways, and pumping stations, Kinderdijk is “a unique example of Dutch technological drainage development that has been copied and put to use on many places around the world.” Even today, our own king earns respect and appreciation from New Orleans to Bangladesh with his and our national pi├Ęce de resistance: our ability to let people, land, wind, and water cooperate in a sensible, sustainable way.

Big brains from a small country

Thirdly, the World Heritage status stresses how cunning our ancestors and their pioneering efforts actually were. It marks how unusual it actually is to have so many people occupy an area that was originally only suited for beavers, herons, and fish. Kinderdijk is lauded as “an extremely ingenious hydraulic system that keeps functioning to this very day. Throughout the centuries, this system enabled people to settle here, and to cultivate large swathes of the local peat bog countryside. Nationally and internationally, this is the only example on this scale, […] characteristic of the Netherlands and a significant stage of Dutch history.” Admit it: it is kind of nice to see it stated in such official terms for a change, don’t you agree? After all ,we don’t stop and wonder about it on a daily basis ourselves, because we have grown used to Kinderdijk too, but we do feel that on December 6, we should pause and wonder all the beautiful, unique, and actually pretty darn genius piece of cultural heritage our tiny country managed to pull off here!

Check video Check video
20 years ago.... broadcast NOS Journaal

Twenty years of official back yard presence

If, like ourselves, you fancy putting our common world-class feat in the spotlights for one day, then you are cordially invited to join our anniversary. We will be giving special tours, and the entrance is free for all our visitors. Our regular parking and boat tour fees still apply. We hope to see you on December 6, to congratulate each other officially on the little wonder of the world that has been officially present right here in our own back yard for twenty years now!

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