Flood Defense in Hollandse Delta and Kinderdijk

By Helene, Math major; Junior

Today started with a presentation from Hans Waals who is the foreign affairs officer for the Hollandse Delta. This presentation was largely about the flood laws and defense systems in Dordrecht, South Holland. Not only did Hans tell us about the defense systems and the history of the area, but he actually took us around town and compared photographs of historic flood levels with the water levels today – there was as much as a 2 meter difference in water levels at some times! 

Hans explains the importance of flood defense in the City of Dordrecht. Photo by Kris.

After departing from our tour with Hans, we biked a quick 10ish kilometers to the Kinderdijk, a UNESCO  world heritage site based around a windmill complex. The bike ride into the Kinderdijk was beautiful – as we rounded a corner, all of the sudden the handful of small windmills on the distance multiplied until  there was a seemingly endless supply of traditional Dutch windmills in every direction you looked. After watching a short film about the history of the Kinderdijk, we walked amongst the windmills and even got to go inside of one to see how the family lived! While we were inside, the windmill was functioning so we got the full experience of hearing the sound they make and imagining life with wooden gears moving in the ceiling, as well as a rotating pole in the center of every single floor. The use of space by the inhabitants was very impressive – one family of 15 people was able to live within one windmill so there was no such thing as wasted space. In comparison, for a house in the United States, two or three people could live comfortably in the space provided by a windmill, but four or more may find it to be a little cramped, even through there technically are four floors within the one we toured.

A windmill at Kinderdijk. Photo by Helene.
Our group at the windmill that we toured. Photo by Helene.
A glimpse of the positioning of the windmills in rows so they could work together to pump water off of the land. Photo by Helene.
A view of some of the windmills at Kinderdijk. Photo by Helene.

After leaving the Kinderdijk, we biked a short ways to a water taxi, where we took a series of two boats into Rotterdam. We biked the last couple kilometers to our hostel for the night, during which we got a great preview of Rotterdam architecture. The city seems to be a blend of the typical older now European stone architecture with shockingly modern designs – including our hostel which is made up of brightly colored cubes sitting atop more conventional stone buildings!

Fun architecture in Rotterdam. Photo by Helene.

Today’s biking distance: 23.5 km (13.6 mi)

Provinces we have visited we have visited or biked through (of 12 in the Netherlands): 6

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