The Defence Line of Amsterdam (Stelling van Amsterdam) is a 135 km long ring of fortifications around Amsterdam. Built between 1883 and 1920, it consisted of flooded areas (inundations) and 46 forts. All of this acted as a final line of defence for the Kingdom of the Netherlands. During the final stages of its construction, the invention of the aeroplane and long-range artillery rendered the defence line almost obsolete. Nevertheless, the forts and the infrastructure were left in place, largely in their original state. The Defence Line of Amsterdam was placed on the UNESCO World Heritage List in 1996.
Defence Line of Amsterdam, Fortwachter 1
Kasteel Museum SypesteynAfter a 500 year lineage, Henri van Sypesteyn (1857-1937) was the final heir of the Van Sypesteyn family. Henri built Castle-Museum Sypesteyn in Loosdrecht to preserve his family’s heritage, and ensure that people could benefit from his family’s wealth and learn from its history. Castle Sypesteyn is located in the middle of the Vecht region and houses a fascinating art collection and exhibition on the Van Sypesteyn family, while the beautiful garden is perfect for a walk.
Kasteel Museum Sypesteyn, Nieuw-Loosdrechtsedijk 150
Naarden dates from 1350 and is one of the few fortified towns in the Netherlands that has remained mostly intact, and the only fortified town in Europe with a double set of walls and moats. This former capital of the Gooi region was strategically placed on a sand ridge between the former Zuiderzee and the Naarder Lake, which helped to protect Amsterdam against attacks from the east. Its charming town centre is still encompassed by two elaborate star-shaped moats and stone walls.
The fortress island Pampus was constructed when the Defence Line of Amsterdam was built at the end of the 19th century. The advent of aerial warfare made the fortress almost obsolete, though it was used as a strategic location during both world wars. Nowadays, the island lies in the middle of the IJmeer and is an oasis of peace and relaxation.
Have you ever wondered why the city of Naarden is shaped like a six-pointed star? Or have you been curious about the history of other Dutch fortresses in the Netherlands? Then don’t miss the chance to visit this museum. As well as exploring local history, you can take part in shooting, golf, boat tours and there’s even special adventures for the youngsters to head out on.
Fortress Museum, Westwalstraat 6
More than 20 years ago, the Netherlands' best-known interior architect Jan des Bouvrie opened Het Arsenaal in a monumental building in the fortress town of Naarden. He used it as a store and showroom for his designs. A restaurant and other interior-related shops are now also located in the building, making Het Arsenaal an important centre for anyone interested in design, gastronomy and fashion.
Het Arsenaal, Naarden
The Muiderslot is possibly the most impressive and best preserved castle of The Netherlands. Given its drawbridge, five towers, moat and battlements, it will probably come as no surprise that the castle and grounds have been used in several TV shows set in the Middle Ages. Many of the castle's chambers have been restored to reflect the splendour that its owners enjoyed during the Dutch Golden Age.
As one of the country’s 14 fortified towns, Weesp is famed for its historical buildings and influence on the chocolate industry (thanks to the Van Houten company). Located a short trip to the east of Amsterdam, the town dates back to the 14th century and – as you’d expect – features dozens of fortifications and battlements. Weesp’s former town hall is a stately, neoclassical building and now houses the municipal museum, which is largely devoted to 18th-century porcelain crafts.
Museum Weesp, Weesp
The Beth Haim cemetery at Ouderkerk aan de Amstel is filled with ornate gravestones that are carved in marble and feature beautiful inscriptions in Dutch, Portuguese and Hebrew. The graves belong to Spanish and Portuguese Jews who fled to the Netherlands in the 17th century, as well as their descendants.
Beth Haim, Kerkstraat 10
Singer Laren Museum
Art fans should take a trip to Singer Laren’s sculpture garden. Designed by renowned landscape architect Piet Oudolf — a leading figure of the ‘New Perennial’ movement who designed the gardens of New York’s iconic High Line — the free sculpture garden features work by contemporary Dutch artists including Guido Geelen, Maria Roosen and Famke van Wijk. Based around a theme of connection, the works meld culture and nature and are nestled in between beautiful seasonal fauna.
Singer Laren Museum, Oude Drift 1
Huizen Nautical Quarter
Stroll around the Nautical area in Huizen and be transported back to a charming Zuiderzee village, complete with a school, waterside café and 19th-century town hall. The Mayor’s residence, doctor’s, grocer’s and fish market all add to the allure, as do the boathouses across the water.
Perfectly complementing the old world charm, the Huizen Nautical Quarter is also home to a range of modern facilities. Head for some pampering at the spa centre, get culinary at one of the many bars and restaurants, check out a leading event location or even stay the night at the Quarter’s very own hotel!
Huizen Nautical Quarter, Huizen
Situated between Amsterdam and Gooi, the fort was constructed in 1873 as part of the New Holland water defence line. It was bombed heavily and badly damaged during the Second World War, but work is ongoing to preserve it for future generations. Although Fort Uitermeer is not accessible to the public, admirers can get a great view of it while dining at the nearby restaurant Uit & Meer.
Fort Uitermeer, Uitermeer 5