The Defence Line and UNESCO
A remarkable defensive ring made up of 46 forts and batteries as well as a multitude of dikes and sluices encircles the Dutch capital of Amsterdam. It’s the Defence Line (or ‘Stelling’) of Amsterdam. A Dutch historical monument, the Defence Line is listed as a UNESCO World Heritage site since 1996. A large portion of this monument is open to the public and makes for a great day out for people young and old.
Constructed for the most part between 1874 and 1914, the ‘Stelling’ is a 135-kilometre (84-mile) long defence line that was aimed at protecting the Dutch capital against a possible foreign attack. The Defence Line showcases the Dutch genius for hydraulic engineering: the possibility for flooding the land lies at the heart of this defensive system that is characterized by ingenious logistics. During both World Wars the ‘Stelling’ was manned with soldiers. It didn’t witness any actual battle, though. By now, many of the forts and batteries have been given another purpose. For more information about the history of the Defence Line of Amsterdam, go to Stelling Amsterdam