Windmills are an iconic part of the Dutch landscape, and a visit to one is a must at... least for me. On our fourth day there, we set out with our tour guide we had for the day to take us to the country side. Kerstan was so nice, and hot, and built. I wanted to explore more than the countryside, and he was very flirtatious, which turned for the naughty that night, oh, wait..... were talking about wind mills, I forgot! Anywho.... with eight windmills located in and around Amsterdam, windmill spotting is a great way to see the city. Windmills were an integral part of Dutch life for centuries, employed for industrial purposes like milling grains or draining the lowlands of excess water. Our tour guide told us that more than 10,000 windmills once dotted the Dutch landscape, and there are still 8 in Amsterdam, and about 1,000 left, in total remaining.
Rooftop at the Toren. Good thing we ate breakfast.......
De Otter is located in Amsterdam West and was built around 1631. It is the last remaining windmill of its kind in the city, as the other sawmills were dismantled by the early 1900s. As such, it is now considered a monument and is protected from being torn down or moved. Not open for visitors.
Molen van Sloten is a reconstructed working mill from 1847 and the only mill open to visitors in Amsterdam. This tower mill works to drain water from lower-lying surroundings to keep the area dry. Guided tours are available and occasionally include the miller who shows visitors how the different parts function.
De Riekermolen is a historic polder drainage windmill that dates back to 1636. It sits proudly on the bank of the River Amstel in Amsterdam, alongside a statue of Rembrandt that celebrates the many sketches he made in this area. De Riekermolen was once used to drain a large plot of land nearby but it now stands as a testament to a bygone era. Nevertheless, it still spins on Saturdays and Sundays between 12:00 and 7:00, May to September – when the winds are favorable. Unfortunately, the windmill's interior is not available for tours.
In the Zaan region, Western Europe’s oldest industrial area, there used to be more than 600 windmills running at the same time. At Zaanse Schans, just outside Amsterdam, ten pairs of sail continue to turn. Visiting such a great wooden machine as it slogs away is an impressive spectacle. The mills are used for sawing wood and grinding oil, flower, spices and colourings. Each of the industrial windmills at Zaanse Schans features clear information about the production process. Of course, the characteristic aromas of sawdust and oil are unmistakable. Intriguing narrow staircases sometimes lead all the way up to the windmill roof.
Have you ever seen the combination of a windmill and a brewery? Seated in front of the Molen de Gooyer Windmill in Amsterdam is the Brouwerij IJ. The brew company was founded in a small building by the river IJ back in 1983. In 1985, the brewery was moved into the Funenmolen building, a disused public bathhouse alongside the Molen de Gooyer where it remains today. The former flour mill is one of the six original windmills still standing in Amsterdam, and of these six, De Gooyer is the closest to the historic center of the city. It was built in 1725. The brewery was our last windmill stop, before the next part of the tour and was a great place to stop for a beer, but seats are limited, so arrive early if you want a table to comfortably enjoy your brew. The mill is owned by the city and cannot be visited, maybe that’s a good thing with all that quality beer on hand. I only downed about four beers!!!!
After the Mistress was good, tight, and refreshed it was off to the De Haar Castle........
A visit to De Haar is a journey of discovery to a marvellous world. There are only a few castles in Europe that have the same ideal image of a medieval fortress with towers and ramparts, with canals, gates and drawbridges. The castle was entirely restored and partially rebuilt in the late 19th century and it rises like a fairy-tale castle from a park with impressive trees, surrounded by old gardens and ponds. Yet this enchanting oasis of harmony and peace is not far from the daily bustle of the city of Utrecht, and only 30 minutes from Amsterdam. The unique castle has something to offer for everyone: young and old, the knowledgeable art lover and the casual visitor which I thought was nice De Haar is an unusual and fascinating mixture of the medieval and the modern comforts of the late 19th century. This was my first castle to ever visit and it was very cool.
What I really found interesting was the DeHaar Castle is oldest historical record of a building at the location of the current castle and dates to 1391. In that year, the family De Haar received the castle and the surrounding lands as settlement from Hendrik van Woerden. The castle remained in the ownership of the De Haar family until 1440, when the last male heir died childless. The castle then passed to the Van Zuylen family in 1482, who still currently own it, but in 2000 passed ownership of the castle and the gardens to the foundation Kasteel de Haar. However, the family retained the right to spend one month per year in the castle. How cool would it be to say, "Oh, I'm off next month. I heading to my castle, come drop in"
Ain't this the life???