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22 July 2019

Princess Beatrix to open new Visitors Centre

In the early evening of Saturday September 7, her Royal Highness Princess Beatrix is to open the new Visitors Centre at Kinderdijk UNESCO World Heritage. Princess Beatrix the patroness of the Dutch Windmill Association Vereniging De Hollandsche Molen.

“We are deeply honoured by the announcement of Princess Beatrix’ presence at this grand opening”, says Cees van de Vlist, general manager of SWEK, the Kinderdijk World Heritage Foundation. “What was already going to be a very special day for all of us will now be even more extraordinary.” In the runup to the official act of opening the venue, Princess Beatrix will meet with some of the SWEK volunteers, among a few other lucky individuals. Boris van der Ham, president of the Dutch World Heritage Foundation, will act as the master of ceremonies.

A substantial part of the Visitors Centre is made of glass.

A substantial part of the Visitors Centre is made of glass.

1997

The opening of the Visitors Centre marks the closing of a trajectory that traces its humble origins all the way back to 1997. In that year, the Kinderdijk windmill complex was included on UNESCO’s official World Heritage List. Even back then, it was determined that the entrance and facilities were a poor match for such a status. The brand new Visitors Centre finally makes up for this lack of decorum, however, consisting largely of glass and offering visitors a panoramic view from its rooftop terrace, proudly displaying everything the present windmill area has to offer.

As recently as this March, the new group entrance opened its doors to the public. It is an integral part of infrastructural and facility improvements aimed at better management of tourist flows. All in all, a grand total of nine million euros is invested in the entrance zone of the windmill area. A broad alliance of authorities and corporate sponsors have contributed to the enterprise. Van de Vlist: “For that, we are grateful. None of this would have been possible without their commitment and support.”

None of this would have been possible without their commitment and support

Kinderdijk is home to the largest windmill complex in the world. The ingenious system comprising a total of nineteen windmills has served to keep the Albalsserwaard area dry for centuries. Even though their actual water management function now rests safely in the hands of modern pumping stations, the mills are still capable of doing their part if needed. In the words used by UNESCO: “The network of nineteen windmills seen at Kinderdijk-Elshout illustrates the impressive contribution the Dutch have made to technology designed to keep water under control.”

The author

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