Windmill in De Beemster
© Holland boven Amsterdam

The UNESCO World Heritage Site of De Beemster form a unique polder area that shows how the Dutch have controlled the waters and used them to their advantage for centuries.

  • A masterpiece of land reclamation from the 17th century – it’s not UNESCO World Heritage without good reason.
  • Go cycling past ancient mansions and pleasant, authentic villages.
  • Visit Schermerhorn Museum Windmill and see how the windmill works.

From lake to water rich landscape

More than 400 years ago, between 1607 and 1612, the Dutch succeeded to reclaim land in an area that was at the time still an inland sea using 43 windmills. In those years, the lake of De Beemster changed into a beautiful landscape that lies 3.5 meters below sea level and is divided into a tight geometric pattern of squares and quadrants. It served as a model for many other land reclamation projects, including the Schermer. You can still see many water windmills in the Schermer landscape.

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World Heritage

Jan Adriaenszoon Leeghwater, the son of a mill builder and hydraulic engineer, was the director of the project. When the reclamation was complete, the new land turned out to consist of fertile clay. The land was divided into plots and rented out to crop and livestock farmers, and rich merchants built their majestic mansions and manors there. De Beemster was put on the UNESCO List of World Heritage Sites in 1999 as ‘a creative masterpiece created by humansˊ, with the 17th-century ideals still clearly visible in the entire area.

Nature reserve Schermereiland

Today, the area between De Beemster and De Schermer, Schermereiland (Schermer Island), is a popular nature reserve with unique swamp fowl and vegetation. There is plenty of cycling, there are boating tours, and you can go hiking except during the breeding season.

Tip: Rent a bicycle, Twizy or electric scooter to enjoy the stunning landscape. The bicycle paths and narrow roads are perfect for easy riding, and you can stop along the way wherever you like. You will see beautiful country houses and many old Dutch farms, which are nicknamed the pyramids of the North.

Visit the Museum Windmill

The Museummolen (Museum Windmill) in Schermerhorn (address: Noordervaart 2) is part of a gorgeous set-up of three windmills in a row. From the visitors’ center, the second windmill, the Museummolen, can be admired. This hydraulic windmill is thatched and has been furnished in accordance with life in the early 20th century. Visitors can receive explanations from the miller in several languages and climb all the way to the top to see the turning gears up close.

Go to for more information about activities and De Beemster Visitor Center.

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