Winkel, Netherlands

Kremlin of the Netherlands

This miniature take on the Kremlin is one Dutch man's retirement project. 

What is the Kremlin doing in a Dutch town of less than 3,000 people? Only one man really knows, but he’ll be happy to show you around.  

Ger Leegwater, a retired sheet metal worker, began building this colorful installation in 1990, just outside the town of Winkel in the Dutch province of North Holland. Leegwater is not an architect, he’s just an enthusiast. While the bulbous domes and bright colors of his project invite comparison to the Russian Kremlin, this is not quite a replica. Instead, inspired by classical and Russian Orthodox architecture, Leegwater began using his newly-acquired free time to coax sheet metal and recycled materials into something he was excited about. 

Looking like something out of a Russian fairy tale, complete with towers, gates and arches, the project includes several freestanding pieces. The central tower-like structure of the complex measures a full 45 feet wide, 52 feet long, and 33 feet high. There’s also a small chapel, which is available for marriage ceremonies. Leegwater is apparently not one to skimp on detail, and he has gone the whole nine yards with decorative elements - each onion-like dome is crowned by a emblem, be it a star, a cross, or a sickle and hammer. Later additions to what has become known as the “Kremlin of the Netherlands” include sculptures of mythical and religious figures, from Saint George and the Dragon to Orpheus.

The site is open for visitors by appointment, or anytime that Leegwater has placed the “open” sign on the front gate. 

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