Wind and water are the architects
Our ongoing battle against the elements is a key theme. Water and wind have played a major role in the creation and growth of our country. From the Delta Works to Amsterdam’s canals and from the reclamation of the Zuiderzee to the charming Kinderdijk windmills: the Netherlands is a country of wind and water.
Windmills and water works
Throughout history, the Dutch have utilized the elements to shape our country. As early as the 12th century, we used windmills to harness the power of water, such as those at Kinderdijk and De Beemster which are on the UNESCO World Heritage list. Mills produced flour and other goods, while their pumps controlled the water levels.
Did you know that large areas in the Netherlands are actually below sea level? In Dutch, NAP stands for Normaal Amsterdams Peil (normal Amsterdam level), which measures the average elevation of land and water relative to sea level. If land is below NAP, it means that large areas of land would be underwater unless we use locks, dikes, dams, etc. to keep the water at bay.
A large part of the Netherlands is below sea level.
With the construction of the Water Lines (also UNESCO World Heritage Sites) and the impressive Delta and Zuiderzee Works, the Netherlands firmly established itself as a world leader in water management. It should come as no surprise that our current monarch, King Willem-Alexander, studied water management.
More information about UNESCO World Heritage in the Netherlands
Take a pick from our diverse heritage
Cheese and other trades
The Alkmaar Cheese Market. Then and now.
Traders and Tulips
Did you know?
The word tulip probably derives from ‘tulipan’, which means turban in the Persian language?
Read all about the bulb region
The bulb region in pictures
Art for the eyes and ears
Each mural has a link to its location, to the city, the present, the future or the past.