European Fortress Days

European Fortress Days

Sep 07, 2019Sep 15, 2019
Various location in the country

Europe is teeming with historic buildings and monuments, and therefore, an event celebrating fortified sites is a very important one. Forts and fortifications are symbols of our common European history, and on European Fortress Day, activities will be organised at fortresses all over Europe, including many in the Netherlands.

Celebrating fortresses across Europe

Fortresses were built to ward off enemies, but nowadays, they are landmarks of interest and places where the public are welcome to learn and satisfy their curiosity.

European Fortress Day is an initiative of the European Federation of Fortified Sites and Defence Lines and the Dutch Waterline Foundation (Stichting Liniebreed Ondernemen), to present fortresses, forts and fortifications to a wider European public. On European Fortress Day, the public can enjoy theatre, films, visual arts and music at selected fortified sites.

Fortresses and waterlines in the Netherlands

A country famous for defences by hydraulic engineering, it's easy to imagine the Dutch having used water to their advantage in times of siege. As well as boasting many World Heritage Monuments, the Netherlands has 10 defensive waterlines, consisting of fortifications, forts and bunkers, with an intricate system of locks, dikes and canals. 

For the occasion, an outdoor cinema will be set up at a number of locations, such as the Stelling van Amsterdam and the New Dutch Waterline. On the weekend of September 14-15, the activities in many forts will be linked with the happenings of European Heritage Day - Open Monuments Days, since the two events coincide. Visitors are welcome to explore forts that are not otherwise open to the public. 

Waterlines in the Netherlands

Some waterlines date from the 1580s, while others were devised during World War II. When the enemy approached, extensive areas of land could be submerged under water too deep for horses and humans to walk around and not deep enough for enemy ships. Waterlines (Waterlinies) in the Netherlands include:

  • Frisian Waterline
  • New Dutch Waterline
  • Old Dutch Waterline
  • South Waterline
  • Atlantic Wall
  • Stelling van Amsterdam
  • IJsellinie
  • Grebbelinie

Fortresses in other European countries

More than 60 forts are open to the public in 10 countries during the European Fortress Day. The event is celebrated in a few selected countries in Europe: Netherlands, Belgium, Czech Republic, France, Germany, Croatia, Italy Lithuania and Serbia. Check out the European Fortress Day website for more information.

Plan your visit to European Fortress Day

There are so many fortified buildings in the Netherlands worth seeing, so keep an eye on the European Fortress Day website for where to go and what to see. There are so many fascinating fortresses dotted all over the Netherlands that no matter where you live, there is most likely a historic site within cycling distance.