Vierhouten – The secret village
1800 - 1900

Life along the Waterline

The New Dutch Waterline (De Nieuwe Hollandse Waterlinie) dates from the 19th century and runs across the country from the IJsselmeer to the Biesbosch. The purpose of the line was to protect the major cities of Holland against possible invasions from the east. Many forts are still there, some are now being reused in surprising ways.

Dutch Waterline
During the Eighty Years’ War (1568-1648) the Dutch began experimenting with using water as defense. Foreign troops thought the large amounts of water were terrible. At the end of the 17th century, the line was closed and given the name Dutch Waterline, but during the French era (1796-1812) the waterline turned out not to function properly at all. The government therefore decided to significantly modify and extend the waterline: the New Dutch Waterline (De Nieuwe Hollandse Waterlinie).

Functioning
The line is a complex system of dikes, dams, forts, batteries and bridges. If an enemy threatens to attack our country, sluices would open which meant the water from the major rivers and the Flevo Lake (Ijsselmeer) could flow into the line. This would create a kilometer wide wet barrier. But, you had to be patient: it could take up to three weeks for the barrier to fill up. Fortresses were built at strategic points, such as near roads and (railroad) bridges. In the course of the 19th century, constant adjustments were needed, especially to protect the forts against the increasingly powerful cannons.

Forts
In the 20th century, the waterline, without ever being used, was decommissioned. However, the forts were too massive to demolish and they weren’t in anyone’s way either. Most of them therefore still exist. Many are given another function, such as Fort Nieuwe Steeg, which has been transformed into a Geofort. You can spend the night in one of the rooms in Fort Vuren and Fort Asperen offers shelter for art.

Historic Sites

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Beesd – Medieval transverse dike of Mariënwaerdt

Beesd – Medieval transverse dike of Mariënwaerdt

Beesd
Defensive Lines

Defensive Lines

Nijmegen
Maalvliet and Acquoy inundation polder

Maalvliet and Acquoy inundation polder

Acquoy
Herwijnen – Fort bij de Nieuwe Steeg

Herwijnen – Fort bij de Nieuwe Steeg

Herwijnen
Tiel – Inundation channel

Tiel – Inundation channel

Tiel
Poederoijen – The battery in Poederoijen

Poederoijen – The battery in Poederoijen

Poederoijen
Vuren – Fort Vuren

Vuren – Fort Vuren

Vuren
Vierhouten – The secret village

Vierhouten – The secret village

Vierhouten

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