They Might Be Giants


There are two things I immediately associate with the Netherlands: tulips and windmills. Since I was traveling there in summer, I knew I wouldn’t see tulips, but I did want to see windmills. As many as possible. Which is what lead me to visit Kinderdijk, a UNESCO World Heritage site.

I didn’t just see a windmill or two at Kinderdijk. I saw 19! All at once. It was breathtaking.


I could not stop taking pictures. I understand why artists are so enraptured by them and paint these scenes. I went back three times just to gaze at them and wander the main path through the Kinderdijk museum trail and then the more private roads behind that. It was here that I noticed people standing near a doorway and I began to wonder whether people lived inside them.


They do!

I finally listened to the lecture that was included in my admission price (6.50 Euro) and learned that 17 of the 19 windmills there are occupied. I was practically drooling with envy. Apparently the rent is pretty low, too. In return for living in one of these remnants of Dutch history, the residents must agree to rotate the blades 6,000 times a year to keep them from rotting. Or was it 60,000? I don’t know. I was scrambling to figure out how I could be one of the lucky few.

Many of the inhabitants had made their yards into beautiful gardens of paradise.


I went inside the windmill museum that was open for tours. I was surprised to find it divided into small rooms among three levels. The top level smelled very smoky; the residue from years of smoking meats. It did nothing to deter me from my windmill-lust. I like tiny spaces! I like smoked meats! I can climb steep, ladder-like stairs!

It was windmill envy to the -nth degree. I did not want to leave Kinderdijk. Ever. I started to feel Quixotic that I had to leave. I was tilting at windmills; those imaginary landlords that were keeping me from having a windmill of my own to call home.

Then I remembered that I had to work the next day. I was only there for a weekend of windmills. But it was enough to fill me with windmill-lust forever.

Would you like to live in one?

For more information on things to do in The Netherlands, visit



31 responses to “They Might Be Giants

  1. What a beautiful panorama! I haven’t yet visited Bagan (in Burma/Myanmar), however, this Dutch landscape dotted with windmills reminds me of images I’ve seen of ancient Bagan studded with stupas.

  2. Hi Juliann,
    This really made me smile. I SO relate to it. I have such a strong nesting instinct that I immediately picture myself living in cabins, tipis, RVs, castles, caves, and I could also see myself in a windmill too, wondering where the bookshelves would go.

  3. Ohh, I’ve never looked inside a windmill. And I did not know that you could live in one. How sweet. I wouldn’t mind giving it a go as long as rotating the blades is mechanised !

  4. How beautiful to see so many at once. I love Holland – it’s such a beautiful country and I love those little pancakes they serve with butter and powdered sugar (yummy!). I could see myself living in a windmill for a weekend – that would be fun, wouldn’t it?

  5. Oh I love this post! I also associate Holland with tulips and windmills – but I’ve never been inside one. When I was in Spain last year, I saw a few (and blogged about them) – because of course, in Spain it’s all about Don Quixote! In Spain, I was also delighted to see so many modern windmills (although you can’t live in them!) dotting the landscape. Many people think wind farms today are unsightly, but I am not one of those people. Your story made me think I need to put the Netherlands on my list for my next trip to Europe.

    • Thank you! I wish you could. It’s such a beautiful, serene spot in the world. Though there are certainly plenty of beautiful spots in Germany, too.

  6. Love them. I’d like to not only live in one but to grind corn and make bread in between writing.
    Spare me though from those modern wind farms which do little to save the planet’s resources but a lot to ruin the landscape.

  7. Your pictures are like scenes straight out of paintings which, they technically are. It’s amazing to see them in real-life pictures since I’ve seen plenty of paintings of windmills but never the actual thing. I had no idea people could live in one! Are they mostly temporary residents or do people live in them long-term? In any case, rotating the windmills 60,000 times a year is totally worth getting to experience living in one. πŸ™‚

  8. Juliann, I would live in a windmill in a heartbeat! I too love small spaces, but I probably wouldn’t be too crazy about the ladder. πŸ™‚ When we lived in Amsterdam we were always on the lookout for windmills on the outskirts of town, but it looks like you hit the motherlode in Kinderdijk. ~Terri

  9. Wow! What an amazing sight that must have been Juliann!! Kinderdijk has been added to my list of ‘must dos’ in Holland πŸ™‚

  10. Pingback: Rocking the Cactus | Browsing The Atlas·

We'd All Love To Hear Your Thoughts:

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.