Amsterdam Defence Line

sail to the amsterdam defence line, part of the unesco world heritage, and explore dutch military history


Amsterdam Castle Muiderslot and Fortress Island Pampus are part of the Defence Line of Amsterdam. Amsterdam Tourist Ferry sails from Amsterdam to the Defence Line. A visit to Pampus or Muiderslot can be combined with a visit to other sites and fortresses such as the fortified town of Muiden.

What is a defence line?

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 bastions in combined action with temporary flooding of polders and a complex system of canals and locks.

A remarkable defence ring consisting of 46 forts and batteries as well as a multitude of dikes and locks encircles Amsterdam, the Dutch capital. That’s the Defence Line (or ‘Stelling’) of Amsterdam. An extraordinary monument of Dutch military history, the Defence Line is listed as a UNESCO World Heritage site.

After the liberation of Holland by the allied forces in 1945, some of the forts were put to use as prisons. During the Cold War the buildings mostly served as storage facilities. By now, many of the forts and batteries have been given another purpose.

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