Windmills, polders, sluices and pumping stations… Holland has a unique history when it comes to water management. But the most impressive example is probably the Afsluitdijk.
- Enjoy a unique view.
- Drive along the 32 km Afsluitdijk and experience a 4D show at te Wadden Center.
- With 300,000 visitors per year, the Afsluitdijk is one of Holland’s most popular water engineering constructions.
Enjoy a beautiful view
These days, the Afsluitdijk is more than just protection against floods. It is also a motorway used by thousands of people every day. You can drive, cycle or walk from one end to the other and enjoy the splendid view: on one side, the Wadden Sea, on the other, IJsselmeer lake.
You will pass by the Cornelis Lely monument about 8 kilometers from the North Holland side of the Afsluitdijk. He was responsible for the largest land reclamation project in history: the creation of Flevoland. There, you can drink a cup of coffee at Lunchroom Het Monument, which features a watchtower designed by Dudok.
From sea to lake
The 32-kilometre-long Afsluitdijk, built between 1927 and 1933, is an important part of the Zuiderzee Works and connects the provinces of Friesland and North Holland. It also changed the saltwater Zuiderzee into the freshwater IJsselmeer. The Zuiderzee Works consisted of two parts. In the first stage, the Zuiderzee was dammed, turning it into a freshwater lake. The second part of the plan was the reclamation of new land. This meant that, after the Zuiderzee had been closed off, the entire new province of Flevoland was reclaimed from the waters.
Afsluitdijk Wadden Center
Near Kornwerderzand, stands a striking building: the Afsluitdijk Wadden Center. This center offers an interactive experience of the UNESCO World Heritage site Wadden Sea, the unique Fish Migration River, the IJsselmeer area and, of course, the developments around and on the dike itself. Assisted by the interactive background, the visitor is not only given a vivid picture of the surroundings of the Afsluitdijk, but also of the other water engineering and innovative projects to be realized here in the coming years.
Visit the exciting 4D show and make a spectacular flight over stunning landscapes in a sensational hang glider or enjoy a cup of coffee with an enchanting view of the IJsselmeer.
The Afsluitdijk at night
Driving over the Afsluitdijk after sunset? Then you'll surely be exposed to Daan Roosegaarde's new and futuristic piece of art, entitled ‘Gates of Light'. The 60 monumental sluices from 1932 have been brought back to their former glory. Small prisms were affixed to the sluices after restoration. As cars drive past, the construction's characteristic lines are illuminated by the reflection of the vehicle's headlights. No vehicles means no reflection. It doesn't require any energy and has zero emission.
Note for cyclists and hikers
Public works will be executed on the Afsluitdijk until the end of 2022. As a result, the Afsluitdijk will be closed to cyclists and pedestrian traffic until 1 April 2022. If you are traveling by bicycle or on foot, you can use a free cyclist bus that will take you to the other side. The bus also stops at the Dudok Monument, Breezanddijk, and Kornwerderzand.
More in the area
Are you crossing the Afsluitdijk, and do you want to see more of the area? Then we highly recommend famous Zuiderzee settlements in Friesland such as Makkum, Stavoren and Hindelopen or the sea port of Harlingen. Other great places to visit are such authentic fishing towns as Enkhuizen and Hoorn (in North Holland), where you can enjoy some delicious fish in the harbour and stroll through centuries-old streets.
Right by the Afsluitdijk, you will also find the Wad, a unique UNESCO World Heritage Site where, at low tide, you can enjoy fantastic mudflat hiking. However, make sure that you have a guide, or that you are well aware of the dangers involved.
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