Princess Beatrix opened the new visitor centre at the UNESCO World Heritage site Kinderdijk last week.
During her visit Saturday night, Princess Beatrix met with some of the volunteers who work at the historical site. She attended in her capacity as patron of the Hollandsche Molen Association (Dutch Windmill Association).
The visitors’ centre, designed by Dorus Meurs and Michael Daane Boiler, architects at M&DB Architects, plays upon the natural beauty of Kinderdijk, with glass panels, views of the windmills, and the basement is partially submerged in the water.
Meurs and Daane Boiler gave Princess Beatrix a tour of the facilities – which also include a souvenir shop, ticket booth, kitchens, bathrooms, catering area, and a reception area where a video about Kinderdijk is played on a loop – and said that it was a fun experience.
“This was the first time I have ever met a member of the Royal Family,” Daane Boiler said.
Kinderdijk’s management said in a blog post on the mill’s official website that the grand opening had happened during a “spectacular show full of music, fountains, and light effects” and revealed that Princess Beatrix stayed for an hour and a half.
Princess Beatrix, the website says, stayed to chat with volunteers and learned all about the work they do at the mill complex, before officially opening the visitors’ centre.
Kinderdijk was declared a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1997 due to its windmills.
“For nearly a thousand years, the Dutch have been clever in dealing with the water that surrounds them,” the official website reads.
“The sustainable blend of nature and technology used to keep Kinderdijk dry is so uniquely valuable that the area and its windmills were granted UNESCO World Heritage status. From now on, the whole world can come by to experience what we have achieved here!”
For nearly a thousand years, the website states, the Dutch people have been working with windmills and pumps to keep the land dry. There are 19 mills that make up the Kinderdijk system.
“The ingenious system of windmills and pumping stations has been keeping the soil dry here for nearly a thousand years now, in a constant struggle between human brains and the power of the water.”
They continue, “We treat our water with respect and common sense because we can’t do without it!”