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Defence Line of Amsterdam

Defence Line of Amsterdam

Extending 135 km around the city of Amsterdam, this defence line (built between 1883 and 1920) is the only example of a fortification based on the principle of controlling the waters. Since the 16th century, the people of the Netherlands have used their expert knowledge of hydraulic engineering for defence purposes. The centre of the country was protected by a network of 45 armed forts, acting in concert with temporary flooding from polders and an intricate system of canals and locks.

Ligne de défense d'Amsterdam

Parcourant 135 km autour d'Amsterdam, la ligne défensive construite entre 1883 et 1920 est le seul exemple d'une fortification continue reposant sur le principe de la maîtrise de l'eau. Depuis le XVIe siècle, les Néerlandais ont mis leur exceptionnel savoir-faire en génie hydraulique au service de leur défense. La protection du centre du pays était assurée par un réseau de 45 forts et leur artillerie agissant de concert avec des inondations temporaires déclenchées à partir des polders et d'un système complexe de canaux et d'écluses.

خط دفاع أمستردام

يُعتبَر خط الدفاع الذي بُني بين العامَيْن 1883 و1920، الذي يمتد على طول 135 كلم، المثال الأوحد على تحصين مستمر يعتمد على مبدأ التحكّم بالماء. فمنذ القرن السادس عشر، وظّف الهولنديون معرفتهم الاستثنائية في مجال الهندسة المتعلّقة بالماء لخدمة دفاعهم. أما حماية وسط البلاد، فكانت مؤمنة عبر شبكة مؤلّفة من 45 حصنًا تعمل ذخائرها بتناغم مع الفياضانات المؤقتة التي تسببها مجموعة من البلدر ونظام قنوات وهوَيس قنوات معقّد.

source: UNESCO/ERI

阿姆斯特丹的防御线

此防线建成于1883-1920年之间,在阿姆斯特丹四周延伸135公里,是唯一一座为控制水量而建成的防御工事。自从16世纪起,荷兰人民为了防御目的,利用其水利工程技术人员特有的知识,为确保国家中心部分的安全,在坝上建起了45个堡垒,并配有大炮用来防洪,还设有渠和水闸系统。

source: UNESCO/ERI

Линия оборонительных сооружений Амстердама

Простираясь на 135 км вокруг Амстердама, эта линия обороны (сооруженная в 1883-1920 гг.) является единственным в своем роде укреплением, включающим гидротехнические сооружения. Начиная с XVI в. народ Нидерландов использовал свое превосходное знание гидротехники для целей обороны. Центральная часть страны была защищена системой из 45 укрепленных фортов, которая могла быть усилена временным затоплением польдеров, для чего использовалась сложнейшая сеть каналов и шлюзов.

source: UNESCO/ERI

Línea de defensa de Ámsterdam

Construida entre 1883 y 1920, la línea defensiva de 135 kilómetros construida alrededor de Ámsterdam es el único ejemplo existente de fortificación basada en el control del agua. Desde el siglo XVI los habitantes de los Países Bajos han utilizado sus conocimientos especializados en ingeniería hidráulica con fines defensivos. El centro del país estaba protegido por una red de 45 fuertes artillados, potenciada por inundaciones temporales provocadas gracias a los pólderes y a un sistema complejo de canales y esclusas.

source: UNESCO/ERI

アムステルダムのディフェンス・ライン

source: NFUAJ

Stelling van Amsterdam

De verdedigingslinie van Amsterdam - de Stelling genoemd - is gebouwd tussen 1883 en 1920. Het is het enige voorbeeld van een fortificatie die gebaseerd is op het principe van het waterbeheer. Vanaf de 16e eeuw gebruikten de Nederlanders hun expertise van de waterbouw voor defensiedoeleinden. Het midden van het land werd beschermd tegen een invasie door een netwerk van 45 bewapende forten in combinatie met het (tijdelijk) onderwater zetten van polders en een ingewikkeld systeem van kanalen en sluizen. In WO II bleek dit verdedigingswerk achterhaald en daarna zijn de forten, op enkele na, verlaten.

Source: unesco.nl

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Defence Line of Amsterdam © UNESCO
Justification for Inscription

The Committee decided to inscribe the nominated property on the basis of cultural criteria (ii), (iv) and (v) considering that the site is of outstanding universal value as it is an exceptional example of an extensive integrated defence system of the modern period which has survived intact and well conserved since it was created in the later 19th century. It is also notable for the unique way in which the Dutch genius for hydraulic engineering has been incorporated into the defences of the nation's capital city.

Long Description

The Stelling van Amsterdam is of outstanding universal value as it is an exceptional example of an extensive integrated defence system of the modern period that has survived intact and well conserved since it was created in the later 19th century. It is also notable for the unique way in which the Dutch genius for hydraulic engineering has been incorporated into the defences of the nation's capital city. It is an excellent illustration of how the Netherlands defended itself against attack by water. In this country from time immemorial dykes, sluices and canals nave been built to drain the land; temporary flooding of the land forms the basis of the defensive system. This principle was first applied in the 16th century.

The introduction of the new defensive system laid down in the 1874 Vestingwet (law on the use of fortresses) meant that a number of old fortified towns were relieved of their defensive role and so could expand outside their ramparts, which largely dated from the 17th century. Under the terms of the Vestingwet, the Netherlands would be protected by nine defensive systems, most already in existence. This defensive line was almost complete in the mid-19th century, but it was partly superseded by the Stelling. It was based on flooding, using the intricate polder system of the western part of the Netherlands. The decision was taken to build the forts along the main defence line in non-reinforced concrete, an early application of this material. In 1892 the northern end of the Nieuwe Hollandse Waterlinie was transferred to the Stelling, to form the eastern part of the defensive system. Certain modifications were carried out to the forts, in line with current military thinking. In the first phase forts were built at the mouths of the main watercourses leading into Amsterdam: a coastal fort at the mouth of the Noordzeekanaal, near Ijmuiden, and an island fort and two coastal batteries in the IJ east of the city where it joined the former Zuyder Zee.

The standard forts on the Stelling were built in two stages. Between 1897 and 1906, 18 forts were built, and 10 more, built to a modified design, were added between 1908 and 1914. The entire Stelling was manned throughout the First World War, even though the Netherlands was neutral in that conflict. During this period construction work continued, to be completed in 1920. Two years later the government revised its defensive plan and decided to build the Holland Vesting, which included part of the Stelling, made obsolete with the introduction of aircraft into warfare. Part of the flooding was activated when Germany invaded the Netherlands in May 1940, but no fighting took place. The early forts were not abandoned until some time after the end of the Second World War; some structures are still in use by the Ministry of Defence.

The defensive line is roughly circular, on a radius of approximately 15 km from the city centre, and extends over two provinces. The main defence line is some 135 km long and comprises 45 forts, with a number of ancillary works. The soil is largely peat and clay, with sand in places. The sites of the forts are directly linked with the existing infrastructure of roads, waterways, dykes and settlements. The main defence line runs mainly along pre-existing dykes. The specific qualities of the landscape through which the line passes determined the character of the constructions; there are six main zones. The northern sector provides excellent facilities for flooding because of the large polders and reclaimed land, and so the forts here were only added in the final phase. The north-western sector runs over existing dykes, adapted for military use. The flooding capacity of the western sector was limited because of the city of Haarlem outside the Stelling and the higher ground behind the dunes; as a result there is a relatively larger number of forts, that at Spaarndam being the main one. In the south-western sector, covering the Haarlemmermeerpolder (reclaimed in 1848-52), it was necessary to build a complete new defensive line with closely linked forts. The southern and south-eastern defences run through a region of inaccessible peat bog and link with the earlier Nieuwe Hollandse Watelinie System. Finally, the eastern sector, running along the coast of the former Zuyder Zee, was primarily defended by marines operating offshore; however, two batteries and the Pampus Island fort were built to close the entrance to Amsterdam harbour.

Source: UNESCO/CLT/WHC
Historical Description

The Stelling van Amsterdam is an excellent illustration of how The Netherlands defended itself against attack, ie by means of water. Water control and defence have gone hand in hand in the country since the 17th century. From time immemorial dikes, sluices, and canals have been built to drain the land; temporary flooding of the land forms the basis of the defensive system. This principle was first applied in the 16th century, during the struggle for independence from Spain, with the development of the Oude Hollandse Waterlinie.

The introduction of the new defensive system laid down in the 1874 vestingwet (law on the use of fortresses) meant that a number of old fortified towns, mostly in the east and south of The Netherlands, were relieved of their defensive role and so could expand outside their ramparts, which largely dated from the 17th century.

Under the terms of the Vestingwet, The Netherlands would be defended by nine defensive systems, most of which were already in existence. The new element was the defensive line around the nation's capital, Amsterdam, which would become the last redoubt. it had a predecessor in the form of earth batteries and semipermanent entrenchments to defend Amsterdam. This defensive line (the Nieuwe Hollandse Waterlinie) was almost complete in the mid-19th century, but it was partly superseded by the stelling van Amsterdam. The new system was so extensive that the entire infrastructure of the country was affected.

Work began on the Stelling in 1883 after lengthy discussions on its military and financial implications. Because it was based on flooding, use was made of the intricate polder system of the western part of The Netherlands. The decision was taken to build the forts along the main defence line in unreinforced concrete, a very early application of this material (first used at Newhaven in the United Kingdom in the 1860s).

In 1892 the northern end of the Nieuwe Hollandse Waterlinie was transferred to the Stelling, to form the eastern part of the defensive system. Certain modifications were carried out to the forts, in line with current military thinking. In the first phase forts were built at the mouths of the main watercourses leading into Amsterdam: a coastal fort at the mouth of the Noordzeekanaal, near Umuiden and an island fort and two coastal batteries in the u east of the city where it joined the former Zuiderzee.

The standard forts on the Stelling were built in two stages. Between 1897 and 1906 eighteen forts were built, and ten more, built to a modified design, were added between 1908 and 1914. The entire Stelling was manned throughout world war I, even though The Netherlands was neutral in that conflict. During this period construction work continued, to be completed in 1920.

Two years later the Netherlands Government revised its defensive plan and decided to build the Holland vesting, which included Part of the Stelling, which had become obsolete with the introduction of the aeroplane into warfare. Part of the flooding was activated when the German army invaded The Netherlands in May 1940, but no fighting took place. The early forts were not abandoned as defensive works until some time after the end of world War 11; some structures are still in use by the Ministry of Defence.

Source: Advisory Body Evaluation