UNESCO World Heritage

The UNESCO World Heritage Site of the Dutch Water Defence Lines consists of the Defence Line of Amsterdam and the New Dutch Water Line. Together, the two water lines tell the special story of the military defence of our country with water as an ally.

Water as an ally

The New Dutch Waterline and the Defence Line of Amsterdam together form a defence line of more than 200 km. Water was used to protect the west of the Netherlands, the economic heart, against the enemy from the east. In war situations, the unique and ingenious system of the Dutch Water Defence Lines could be used to place wide strips of land under water up to knee height: inundation. Thus the land became impassable for soldiers, vehicles or horses. The water was too shallow for boats to navigate through: a world-class system!

The New Dutch Waterline

The New Dutch Waterline is the oldest of the two defence lines. With 45 forts, 6 fortresses, 2 castles and many casemates, shelters, locks and waterworks, the waterline made the Netherlands an impregnable fortress. The defence line was in use between 1814 and 1940. The New Dutch Waterline is 85 kilometers long, 3 to 5 kilometers wide and extends between Muiden and the Biesbosch area. The waterline was prepared three times, but never used. In 2021, the waterline received UNESCO World Heritage status, as an extension of the Defence Line of Amsterdam.

The Defence Line of Amsterdam

The Defence Line of Amsterdam is the younger of the two defence lines. Yet this ring of protection around the capital has been an UNESCO World Heritage Site since 1996. The Defence Line is 135 kilometers long and consists of 46 forts and batteries, dikes and locks. The defences were built between 1880 and 1914. The Defence Line protected the capital against enemy attacks. Within the Defence Line of Amsterdam, the king or queen, the government and the army could withdraw in the event of an attack on the Netherlands. During the two world wars, the line was put in a state of defence. Yet fighting never really ensued.

Hidden in the landscape

The Dutch Water Defence Lines lost their significance due to the advent of the airplane and fell in disrepair after World War II. Isolated forts managed by the army, developed into special nature reserves. Legislation, which stipulated that no construction was allowed around the forts, ensured an open landscape. Here man has made a covenant with water and nature. The Dutch Water Defence Lines are full of secrets, stories and special objects. They are unique in the world and deserve to last for generations to come.

Would you like to know more about the Dutch Water Defence Lines?

There is now plenty to do on many forts of the Dutch Water Defence Lines. From catering to museums and unique places to stay. Visit the websites of the two waterlines for more information!

UNESCO Werelderfgoed de Hollandse Waterlinies zijn de Stelling van Amsterdam en de Nieuwe Hollandse Waterlinie samen. Een 200 km lang open landschap vol ingenieuze waterwerken en robuuste forten. Leer het unieke verhaal kennen van verdediging met water als bondgenoot.

Bekijk hier onze toegankelijkheidsverklaring

Ode aan de Hollandse Waterlinies is een initiatief van: