Today we did as the tourists do here in Holland…we visited Kinderdijk! This UNESCO World Heritage site is a unique collection of nineteen authentic windmills, which are considered a Dutch icon throughout the entire world.
I had visited Kinderdijk before, but it wasn’t until today that I learned the history behind it’s name. In 1421, a baby girl was born on a farm and one night, a great surge of water from the North Sea flooded the rivers causing the dikes to overflow and break. Thousands of people drowned in these floods, but the baby floated away in it’s bassinet, with a cat perched up on the hood. The cat kept the crib balanced, protecting the baby. The place where she was eventually found the following day is now known as ‘Kinderdijk’ (Children’s Dike). No one knew the baby’s name, so she was called Beatrix de Rijke (Beatrix meaning “blessed” and de Rijke meaning “the Rich”). There is still a crib on display at Kinderdijk, floating in the water to remind us of how Kinderdijk got it’s name all those hundreds of years ago….
As Beatrix grew up at Kinderdijk, she observed the area transforming into a safer environment with more windmills and higher dikes. As the majority of the Netherlands is actually below sea level, over the centuries the Dutch became more aware of the importance of protecting themselves from the water. They dramatically improved their dikes, windmills and pumping stations. The Dutch are now world famous for their water management skills and specialist dutch companies are now in high demand all over the world for their expertise in this area.