De windmolen | Amsterdam University Press Journals Online
Volume 5, Issue 1
  • ISSN: 2468-2187
  • E-ISSN: 2468-2195


The windmill. The origins of a Dutch icon

The windmill is an icon of the Netherlands. But when did this instrument acquire this symbolic role at home and abroad? After all, mills are also common outside of the Netherlands. In this essay, it is argued that during the second half of the 19th century, foreigners systematically identified the Netherlands and the windmill for the first time. More than in other countries, there was a varied use of mills in the Netherlands, large and robust mills and clusters of industrial mills. Within the Netherlands itself, development towards an iconic position is only visible around the turn of the century when the mill turned out to be a plus in tourist recruitment abroad and when mills were slowly disappearing from the landscape.


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