When you are in the Netherlands, the country born in the battle against the sea, you can’t but see a windmill, at least once during your stay. Windmills make up our Holland-related imaginary as well as clogs, tulips or legalized marijuana. Windmills and, therefore, the whole concept of watermanagement.
Watermanagement became the outline of the dutch identity apart from being the leitmotif of its whole history – the war against water, the conquest of the land for construction and farming, for life, for a better future.
So, if you stay in Amsterdam and want to learn more about the role of windmills in the growth of the city’s and country’s prosperity and how at all it is possible to leave beneath the level of the sea by the sea, the Sloten windmill with its museum and didactic itinerary should defenitely become one of your must-sees.
Rembrandt Molen van Sloten is just a short ride on tram 2 and a ten-minute walk that separate the centre of Amsterdam from the lovely village of Sloten that counts less than one thousand residents. The tiny Sloten also hosts Holland’s smallest police department that to be recognized as such has a desperate need of a target.
Sloten, despite its thousand-year history, managed to carry its unique picturesque image through centuries: charming small houses, quite streets and squares, peaceful atmosphere and even a stone that dates back to the end of the 18th century when it served to indicate the closest point within which thieves were allowed to approach Amsterdam.
One of the most important attractions of the village, though, is its windmill that nowadays hosts also the Coopery Museum and is run entirely by truly enthusiastic and hospitable volunteers.
One of the most astonishing curiosities of the location, considering that we are now living in the 21st century, is that the windmill built in 1847 in the outskirts of Amsterdam is still doing its job of keeping under control the water level of the surrounding territories pumping the superfluous water from the polders situated at lower levels.
It is surprising even to think of how far the progress had come and that despite the overall development of technology one of the most efficient ways to win the land from the sea is by setting an old charming windmill in motion. Nothing seems to be impossible in Sloten!
The Sloten windmill is the poetry of technology, a symbolic cornerstone of the era of progress, a perfect example of engineering genius with the gift of prophesy. It is also an example of how a small village can care for its history and dedicate itself to preserve what remains of it with no help or effort but their own.
My standing ovation and very special gratitude goes to all Sloten windmill volunteers and the guide who took us on the tour around the windmill sharing not also a lot of interesting information and funny stories but much of his enthusiasm and passion with us. I must admit that a grey rainy day in Sloten is one of my brightest travel recalls thanks to him and all his colleagues taking care of their windmill exactly as the latter still keeps on taking care of them.
Photos credit: Machs Gut (c)