Photo: © Celina Polane via Staatsbosbeheer

Dutch Water Defence Lines

Nicely tucked away in the landscape, you will find the Dutch Water Defense Lines. Consisting of The Defense Line of Amsterdam and the New Dutch Waterline, it forms a defense line stretching more than 200 km. The result is an open landscape full of ingenious waterworks and robust fortresses. The water lines are a typical Dutch invention and have therefore been added to the UNESCO World Heritage List.

The Dutch Water Defense Lines tell the remarkable story of the military defense of our country with water as an ally. An obviously important defense line in the past, today it's a beautiful recreation area where you can cycle, walk and sail through. Here you will explore places that you will not find anywhere else in the world. There is really a lot to experience in the beautiful line area!

What is the New Dutch Waterline?

The New Dutch Waterline is the oldest of the two defense lines. With 45 forts, 6 fortresses, hundreds of casemates and military waterworks and 2 castles, the New Dutch Waterline runs from Muiden to the Biesbosch. Between 1815 and 1940, this defense line protected the west of the Netherlands against invaders. Pieces of land were flooded in case of danger, so that enemy soldiers could not advance any further. Forts were built along the line to further defend the country.

Fortunately, we no longer need a defense line to protect the Netherlands and the New Dutch Waterline is now just a very beautiful recreation area. A large number of fortresses have been preserved and have been given a different purpose. Where once soldiers used to sleep, you can now find cool museums, cultural hotspots and even a beer brewery.

What is the Defense Line of Amsterdam?

The Defense Line of Amsterdam is the youngest of the two defense lines, but has been a UNESCO World Heritage Site since 1996. The Defense Line of Amsterdam consists of 46 forts and batteries, dikes and locks. Constructed between 1880 and 1914, the Defense Line defended the capital against enemy attacks. Here the Royal Family, the government and the army could withdraw from an attack on the Netherlands. Today, the Defense Line of Amsterdam is also a beautiful recreation area. Many forts have been set up as museums or studios for artists and all kinds of activities are organized there.

Our tips

There are plenty of great activities along the New Dutch Waterline, from great museums to a beer brewery in a fortress.

An oasis of tranquility at only 15 kilometers distance from Amsterdam.

The New Dutch Waterline is unique in the world, which is why it deserves a spot on the UNESCO list of World Heritage Sites.

The biggest national monument in the Netherlands is prime cycling country. Discover the military heritage, beautiful landscapes, and the best restaurants, museums and fortified cities along the way. Join an organized tour or explore the area on your own – the New Dutch Waterline has something to offer for everyone. These are the absolute must-see routes.

There are stunning hiking routes along the New Dutch Waterline. Discover our favorites.

Category: Discover

World Heritage Sites

Visit the World Heritage Sites in Holland. This overview shows the eight World Heritage Sites in Holland appointed by UNESCO.