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UNESCO in Holland

A UNESCO World Heritage Site is a site that has been nominated for the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization's International World Heritage program.

Holland is a beautiful and diverse country and lays claim to ten unique UNESCO World Heritage Sites as well as nine sites on the tentative list. Out of all the European countries, Holland probably has the most varied list, which includes factories, fortifications, polders, houses and canals.

Take one of our overnight car ferries to Amsterdam, or head from Dover to Calais or Dunkirk and you can drive there in just a few hours. Getting around Holland is easy, especially if you take your own vehicle. You can travel at your own pace and might even have room for a few souvenirs too.

Here’s our list of some of Holland’s best loved UNESCO World Heritage Sites.

Canal Ring of Amsterdam

Canal Ring of Amsterdam

Amsterdam has more than 100 km of canals, around 90 islands and 1,500 bridges. 

The four main canals, Herengracht, Prinsengracht, Keizersgracht and Jordaan form concentric belts around the city, known as the Grachtengordel. 

This 17th century canal ring area was placed on the UNESCO World Heritage List in 2010. Canal cruises are one of Amsterdam’s most popular attractions and it’s an excellent introduction to this vibrant and beautiful city. 

It’s no wonder that Amsterdam is frequently referred to as the Venice of the North.

Beemster Polder

Beemster Polder

Droogmakerij de Beemster, or the Beemster Polder, is an area of reclaimed land that used to be part of the Beemster lake. The land was drained with the purpose of turning it into profitable farmland and the polder was laid out in a rational geometric pattern, developed in accordance with the principles of classical and Renaissance planning. Today it is a well-ordered agricultural landscape of fields, roads, canals, dykes and settlements. It may not sound like there’s much to see but there are many protected buildings you can visit including religious, residential and farm buildings from the 17th to 19th centuries, industrial buildings (a mill, a smithy, water authority buildings and bridges) as well as the five forts which formed part of the Defence Line of Amsterdam (also World Heritage properties).

Windmills of Kinderdijk

Windmills of Kinderdijk

Holland is known the world over for its magnificent and unique collection of windmills, and the windmill complex of Kinderdijk was added to the prestigious UNESCO World Heritage List in 1997. 

This group of 19 mills is the largest concentration of old windmills in Holland and are some of the best-known Dutch tourist sites. 

Two of the windmills, Blokweer and Nederwaard, are open to the public and explain the history of the area. But a boat trip is a must if you want to really explore these beautiful old windmills.

Van Nellefabriek

Van Nellefabriek

Van Nellefabriek is a complex of buildings that used to be a coffee, tea and tobacco factory. It is now the commercial centre of Rotterdam and was added to the UNESCO World Heritage List in 2014. It is undoubtedly the most prominent industrial monument in Holland and is a classic example of the Nieuwe Bouwen school of Dutch modernist architecture. Made almost entirely from glass and steel, the buildings are connected by covered walkways and are reminiscent of a modern airport rather than an old factory. The only way to view the interior is by booking onto a guided tour, so make sure you book this in advance to avoid disappointment.

Image credit: Arco Ardon​


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