The Netherlands from above, a century ago

The Netherlands from above, a century ago

These days you can find a plethora of picturesque high-quality drone videos on YouTube, but roughly a 100 years ago, aerial photos were quite rare as the aviation industry was still relatively new back then.

A unique find

Last year, The NIMH (Nederlands Instituut voor Militaire Historie), the Dutch Institute for Military History, found and published around 1.000 historical photos that were part of a glass negative collection. The response to these photos was overwhelming, and for the past year, employees of NIMH have gone through old photo albums, boxes and drawers to find more. And they did!

This time, they found more than 2.000 new aerial photos of the Netherlands, taken by the military in the 1920s and 1930s.

Image collection specialist Dirk Janse of NIMH: “The nice thing about all of these photos is that you see a lot of famous places but without all of the stuff that was built over the past 100 years. It’s like a sightseeing tour through the twenties.”

Why the military took all these photos, Janse can’t be sure. He speculates that it is possible that the aviation department of the military simply was the only organisation capable of taking these kinds of photos at the time. So, it is quite possible that the photos did not have a military purpose.

Aerial photos of the Netherlands in the 1920s / 1930s

Here are some of the aerial photos you can find in the NIMH image database of the website of the Ministry of Defence. Everyone is free to download and use the images.


This is what Amsterdam looked like in the 1920s:

Amsterdam Museumplein 1920s

Amsterdam 1920s

Amsterdam city 1920s

The Hague

Here are some photos of The Hague and Scheveningen in the 1920s:

The Hague 1920s

Scheveningen 1920s


Nowadays, Rotterdam is known for its modern architecture. This is what the city looked like in the 1920s:

Rotterdam 1920s photo

Rotterdam harbour 1920s


Do you recognise 1920s Utrecht?

Utrecht photo 1920s

Utrecht photo 1920s

What do you think? Have these cities changed much over the years? Let us know in the comments!

Manja van Kesteren


Manja van Kesteren

Managing Editor at IamExpat Media. Manja studied English and Creative & Professional Writing at the University of Wolverhampton in the UK. She has been working as a content editor and...

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