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Nieuwe Hollandse Waterlinie

Date of Submission: 17/08/2011
Criteria: (ii)(iv)(v)
Category: Cultural
Submitted by:
Ministry of Education, Culture and Science
State, Province or Region:
Provinces of Noord-Holland, Utrecht, Zuid-Holland, Gelderland and Noord-Brabant
Coordinates: N52 20 14 E5 4 12; N51 47 57 E4 52 06
Ref.: 5631
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The Nieuwe Hollandse Waterlinie is a military defence line that marked the administrative and economic heart of the Netherlands - Fort Holland. It was designed to keep out invaders by the controlled flooding of a chain of inundation fields to a depth of up to a metre.

The inundation line was laid in the 19th and 20th centuries and runs from Fort Naarden to Fort Steurgat in the Biesbosch. The line consists of a system of waterworks and over 1,000 forts, casemates, sluices and wooden houses. The Nieuwe Hollandse Waterlinie is one of the largest projects ever undertaken in the Netherlands.

The fields of fire and inundation basins around the forts consist mainly of open land, since the Strategic Defences Act (Kringenwet) of 1853, which was only repealed in 1963, prohibited any building on such designated areas until 1963.

The Nieuwe Hollandse Waterlinie links up with, and is an extension of, the Stelling van Amsterdam, which already has World Heritage status.

Justification of Outstanding Universal Value

The Nieuwe Hollandse Waterlinie is of exceptional significance through its extensiveness, the fact that it uses a specialised system of waterworks, and the pristine character of the fortifications.

Criterion ii: The Nieuwe Hollandse Waterlinie and the Stelling van Amsterdam are exceptional examples of an extensive, integrated European defence system of the modern period which has survived intact and well conserved since their creation in the late 19th century. They are both part of a continuum of earlier defensive measures and were later to influence certain portions of the construction immediately before and after World War II.

Criterion iv: The forts are outstanding examples of an extensive, integrated defence system of the modern period which has survived intact and well conserved since its creation in the late 19th century.

Criterion v: The Nieuwe Hollandse Waterlinie represents the skill of the Netherlands in water management and its practical application in the defence of the nation.

Statements of authenticity and/or integrity

The cultural value of the Nieuwe Hollandse Waterlinie (as an illustration of Dutch water management) is expressed through extant portions of the system, most of which is still intact.

The Nieuwe Hollandse Waterlinie and the Stelling van Amsterdam formed the line of defence of Fort Holland, the western conurbation now known as the Randstad. The addition of the Inundation Line to the World Heritage site of the Stelling van Amsterdam would enhance the value of both properties and improve the opportunities for conservation. The site would then comprise all the elements of the Fort Holland defence line.

Comparison with other similar properties

The Nieuwe Hollandse Waterlinie and the Stelling van Amsterdam partially overlap, use the same inundation system and were designed with the aim of defending the same area of land (the present-day Randstad).

The former Grebbelinie, the defence line that extended from the Lower Rhine to the IJsselmeer, is a comparable site. Until 1951, the Grebbelinie functioned as a forward defence line of the Nieuwe Hollandse Waterlinie.