Icons of the Dutch Waterline

This adventurous 13-kilometre hike leads you through the rich history of the Dutch Waterline. Travel 600 years back in time and be carried along a splendid Dutch river region, past ancient ramparts and underneath beautifully restored city gates. Do not hesitate to go off the beaten path and set out on your own, too.

Nationaal Park NLDelta - 14 Loevestein

The story of the New Dutch Waterline

This unique system of dikes, pumping stations and sluices was designed and built in the 19th century to protect the western part of the Netherlands from the enemy. Within a few days, the country could be completely flooded from Muiden to the Biesbosch. A remarkable innovation that shows how the Netherlands uses the water in the delta. 

Spanning 85 kilometres, the New Dutch Waterline passes through three provinces and consists of 45 forts, six fortified towns, two castles, some 700 concrete shelters and casemates and over 100 military sluices and water works. It is the largest national monument in the Netherlands.

Nationaal Park NLDelta - Slot Loevestein 367

Loevestein Castle: a monumental experience

Would you like to explore a bit of history and be amazed by age-old stories and architecture? Pay a visit to Loevestein Castle, which once also served as a state prison. A site filled with stories; an adventure for all ages!

The origin of the Netherlands

Sand, gravel and other erosion materials carried by the rivers from distant mountain areas created the Netherlands. Basically, the Netherlands was one giant river delta, a vast plain with raging rivers. Nowadays, the rivers are calmer but the landscape is still just as beautiful, unique, green and open. You will come across dozens of sights worth seeing, including the Vesting3hoek.

The historic fortified towns of Gorinchem, Woudrichem and Loevestein are collectively known as Vesting3hoek or Fortress Triangle, and formed an important link in the New Dutch Waterline. The walk, which is punctuated by river crossings by ferry, traverses this Fortified Triangle.

The chain of the south

To the south side of NLDelta National Park is another impressive water line: the Zuiderwaterlinie consisting of a chain of eleven fortified cities. One of these cities is Willemstad, a place with a tough exterior that tells a typically Dutch story of using the water to defend the populace. Willemstad was named after William of Orange, the ‘Father of the Fatherland’. He commissioned the fortifications to protect several shipping routes into the Netherlands against potential enemies from Germany, France and Spain. 

The fortifications have a star shape, an imposing hexagon composed of canals and walls with five bastions: defence works that jut forward. Explore the past, where gunpowder and food stores have been transformed into unique spots to enjoy a drink, a bite, or an overnight stay. If you want even more adventure, there are three old fortresses near Willemstad: Fort Sabina, Fort De Hel, and Fort Buitensluis. In short, it is a city full of hidden surprises. Plan your visit to Willemstad and the fortresses on this website.