Visitors Centre opened by Princess Beatrix
Talk about an amazing party! Tonight, by the push of a single button, Her Royal Highness Princess Beatrix of the Netherlands has opened the new Visitors Centre of Kinderdijk UNESCO World Heritage. It all happened during a spectacular show full of music, fountains, and light effects. The royal visit lasted for an hour and a half.
A special moment occurred when Princess Beatrix had a personal meeting with several volunteers of the Kinderdijk World Heritage Foundation (SWEK). The patroness of Dutch Windmill Association De Hollandsche Molen took ample time to be brought up to date on the everyday affairs at Kinderdijk UNESCO World Heritage. Under the guidance of master of ceremonies Boris van der Ham, the official programme took off at just past 8pm.
In addition to about 500 invitees, hundreds of residents from Kinderdijk village came by to witness the grand opening of the new accommodation. During his speech, SWEK general manager Cees van der Vlist emphasised the crucial part played by our volunteer cadre. “They constitute the true cornerstone of our foundation. Without their tireless efforts, none of these developments would have been possible in the first place.” All of our volunteers had gathered on the bridge, dressed in full Kinderdijk attire – an impressive sight.
The Visitors Centre was designed by Dorus Meurs and Michael Daane Boiler of M& DB Architects. After the official opening ceremony, during which Princess Beatrix lowered a giant curtain covering the building, the duo provided a ‘royal’ grand tour. Daane Boiler: “This was the first time I have ever met a member of the Royal Family. Simply wonderful.” Just after 9pm, Princess Beatrix left Kinderdijk again.
Today marked the culmination of a trajectory that was carefully set in motion back in 1997; the year when the unique Kinderdijk windmill complex was officially included in the UNESCO World Heritage list. Even then, it was established that the way we received our guests here was not fit for a World Heritage site. Van der Vlist: “The road that led us here has been a rough one, strewn with hurdles and obstacles along the way. Many years of preparations have preceded the sweeping overhaul of the entrance to this iconic stretch of Dutch soil, in a time when tourism was soaring throughout the Netherlands, including Kinderdijk of course.“
Inside the Visitors Centre, an important part of which consists of glass panels, is a reception area where entry tickets are sold alongside ongoing shows featuring a Kinderdijk introductory movie. In addition, the ground floor accommodates a souvenir shop and a catering area with a great view of the windmill complex. The basement of the building, which is partially submerged in the water of the basins, houses the kitchen and toilets, among other facilities.