Land of water
With 6000 kilometers of canals and rivers, with many lakes across the country and with the thousand of kilometers of dikes and dams to protect the country from the sea, the Netherlands can call itself a land of water.
When you land at Amsterdam Schiphol airport the runways and terminals are appr. 3.4 m (11 ft) below sea level. All the polder land has been reclaimed from the water. In the old days we used the windmills for this, nowadays electric pumps do the work.
All across the country you can see how the Dutch live in this land of water. You can visit many places to see how the Dutch keep their feet dry.
- Unesco Beemster Schermer – polder from the beginning of the 17th century. Divided by the classic renaissance squares of land it is an unique place with windmills you can visit. You can rent a boat to discover this area from the water.
- Cruquius – one of three steam engines that pumped the water out of the Haarlemmermeer in 1852, the largest reclaimed polder of Holland and also the place where you can find Schiphol Aiport. It is a small museum close to the airport and the city center of Haarlem.
- Lemmer – Wouda gemaal. The Wouda pumping station at Lemmer is at the UNESCO world heritage list since 1998. This station was opened in 1920 to control the water situation in Friesland.
- Between top of North Holland an Friesland – Afsluitdijk. A 32 kilometer long dike to close the Zuiderzee from the Waddenzee and turn it into the fresh water lake the IJsselmeer in 1932. You can visit the interesting Zuiderzeemuseum in Enkhuizen for a view how the people lived before the afsluitdijk was closed.
- Flevoland incl. Noordoostpolder – the latest addition to the Netherlands. This new land was perfect for farming and for growing tulips. You can find the largest flower fields in the Noordoostpolder and in 2022 the World expo Floriade in Almere is held. Unesco Schokland and the fishermen village of Urk both used to be islands in the zuiderzee and turned into land when the Noordoostpolder was formed in 1939. You can visit the New Land Heritage Center (The Nieuw Land Erfgoedmuseum) in Lelystad with you want to learn more about the Zuiderzee and Flevoland.
- Lake district Friesland – With over twenty-five big and small lakes the lake district is a perfect area to relax, sail and enjoy other water activities. During extreme winters the Frisian eleven city ice skate tour is being held. Friesland and Leeuwarden is the European capital of Culture in 2018.
- Giethoorn – Also know as the Venice of the north. A quant little place with 180 bridgers and where roads have been replaced by water ways. You can rent a whisper boat to tour around town and the nearby lakes in the National Park de Weerribben – Wieden. This place is extremely popular with tourists from Asia.
- The storm disasters of 1953 is remembered in the Watersnoodmuseum in the town of Ouwerkerk (Zeeland) During extremely high spring tide the water from the sea broke down the dikes and flooded a large area of the Netherlands. After this storm disaster the Dutch Government decided to build the Delta works (Delta werken). This system of dikes, dams and construction was built in 1960 and 1961 to tame the North sea for the south western part of the Netherlands.
- Haringvliet locks also known as the faucet of Europe. 24 hrs a day, 7 days a week the height of the water in the rivers is controlled and protects the land against the seawater at the other side. It is an interesting place to visit when you are interested in the land of water theme.
- Dordrecht the oldest city in Holland obtained city rights in 1220. Located between the rivers Merwede, Noord and Oude Maas it was a important merchant city. Visit the historic city center and harbor. Close to Dordrecht you can find the National park the Biesbosch. It is one of the largest national parks in the Netherlands and is on of the last extensive areas of freshwater tidal wetlands in Northwestern Europe. It is a wonderful place to explore from a canoe.
- At Unesco Kinderdijk you can find the 19 windmills who played an important role in keeping the water under control. Since 1950 all the windmills are out of order for this task, the electric pumps took over this job. All the windmills can still pump the water out if necessary as a back up plan.
- Maeslant Dam (Maeslantkering) is one of the latest additions to the Delta Plan and is as long as the Eifel tower and weight as four times as much. This dam protects the Netherlands near the town of Hoek van Holland. It takes up to 3 hrs to close this dam. The information center gives interesting tours about the dam.
- Hondsbossche Zeewering (close to Petten and Schoorl) this seawall dates back to 1793. It is an interesting area where the sea can enter this nature reserve with the most beautiful dune area of the Netherlands.
Source: Tulips in Holland
Photo credits: NBTC Holland Marketing