There are several large windmills you can choose to visit: De Kat paint mill, De Zoeker oil mill, or Het Jonge Shapp sawmill. I had done some research prior to visiting and had read that to get the most out the experience it is best to choose a windmill that is spinning and ideally the one spinning the fastest. There were only 2 spinning the day went and De Kat was moving the fastest so we went with it. I will say that because it’s the first of the large windmills it was much busier than the other ones so if your looking for a less crowded one, try the ones further down.
It’s €4,50 per person to enter each windmill, but if you’ve purchase a Zannse Schans card it will give you access into one of the large windmills, you can read about it here. If your not wanting to purchase the card and it’s the only attraction your wanting to see I’d say it’s worth the €4,50 pp to see one in action.
When we entered a guy was giving a talk in English, we only caught the last few minutes of it but he was explaining how the windmill works. We decided to head upstairs before the crowd did, however know that if you when you exit you go down on the opposite side and aren’t able to get back over to where he is. So if you really want to hear the info wait around to hear it before you go up.
You can see how the large stone wheel rolls around and grinds the chalk into a fine powder which will then have a colored pigment added to it.
I loved these paint barrels that are stacked against the wall on the 2nd floor.
Climbing the steep ladder could be challenging for those who are physically restricted or small kids. Bea was not a fan of the steep climb up or down.
Once you climb the steep ladder you can see the gears turning at eye level which is neat. The gears were huge and turning slower than I expected but still impressive nonetheless.
You can also walk out onto the balcony around the windmill for a neat view. Bea is not a fan of heights and chose to stay inside the windmill. You can see some people on the balcony of the windmill on the right.
I loved the clacking sound that sails made as they spun around the windmill, not sure why but it was just a soothing sound and the great background noise for the experience.
Here is a short clip of the gears turing in the windmill and the sails turing outside the windmills.
I would highly suggest taking the time to visit a working windmill in the Netherlands it’s a unique experience and a great way of seeing history in action.
Know Before You Go
What: De Kat Windmill at Zaanse Shans, Netherlands
How To Get There: It’s about 3 hours 50 mins from Spangdahlem, and 4 hours 45 min from Ramstein. GPS address: Schansend 7, Zaandam
Parking: is available for €9 in the lot near the museum. You pay for your ticket at the hut near the entrance to the village where they sell photos, it’s easily overlooked and we seen several folks walking around confused.
Cost: €4,50 per person to see the inside of the windmill unless you bought as Zaanse Schans card, then you get free entrance into 1 large windmill.
Dogs: We seen several dogs here with their owners walking around the village, not inside the attractions or buildings though.
Traveling with little kids: The stairs are VERY steep going up and down (think ladder) so keep that in mind with small children.
How long: Plan on at least 20-30 mins, could easily spend more time if you are able to listen to the whole talk about the windmill, we only caught the last few mins and didn’t want to wait for the next one.