New Dutch Waterline

Biggest Dutch UNESCO World Heritage Site

The Dutch New Waterline is a 85-kilometre long defence line with 45 forts, 6 fortresses and 2 castles in the Netherlands. Most parts date from 1870. In 2021, the New Hollandic Water Defense Line was added to the UNESCO World Heritage List. Some parts, like the Defence Line of Amsterdam was previously added in 1996.

It is best to visit numerous sights of the defence line in order to get an idea of these unique ways of defence. Water plays a crucial role, which you can still see nowadays.

The New Dutch Waterline runs from Muiden to Gorinchem. Or actually from the former Zuiderzee (now the IJsselmeer) to the Biesbosch. It was in use from 1870 to 1945, although its history goes back much further. Find below the most beautiful sights, with both well-known and lesser-known highlights.

Loevestein Castle

Loevestein Castle, part of the New Dutch Waterline. ©Corno van den Berg

The famous Loevestein Castle is a castle in Poederoijen at the very tip of the province of Gelderland. It is strategically located where the Maas and Waal rivers meet. As a result, the residents could clearly see any attackers arriving via the water. The castle has a rich history. Among other things, the escape of Hugo de Groot in a book chest.


The Castle of Muiden near Amsterdam, part of the New Dutch Waterline.

The Muiderslot is not only a beautiful castle, but it is also beautifully situated. This famous castle is located on the river Vecht and the former Zuiderzee. Nowadays, the IJsselmeer. The castle has a lively history. You can explore the gardens of Muiden Castle or visit the museum.


Another sight is Naarden, which was founded in 996 as a harbor village on the Zuiderzee. The city was regularly looted and burned. Due to its strategic location, the city was developed as a fortress. Overtime more fortifications were built, amongst others by the French.

Imagine double city walls, a moat, bastions and city gates. There are also places for the storage of weapons and for soldiers. Nevertheless, Naarden was recaptured by William III of the Netherlands.

In the 20th century, a large part of Naarden was restored. For example, all six bastions have been overhauled. One of the most beautiful attractions is the Utrechtse Poort. This gives access to the city from the direction of the city of Utrecht.  

Fortress Museum

You will also find the Fortress Museum in Naarden, which is located on the ramparts of the fortress. The most important part of the collection is the Turfpoort bastion, with Napoleon's cannons and many archaeological finds. But you will also find prints, hand and firearms and countless utensils from the past. The many objects of General Cornelis R. Th. Baron Kayenhoff (1758-1840). It gives a special insight into life at the time.


The city of Gorinchem is part of the so-called Fortress Triangle. Together with the fortified cities of Woudrichem and Zaltbommel, it forms the southern part of the New Dutch Waterline. Each fortified town has its own charm. Gorinchem is even the largest fortified city in the Netherlands.

A must-see during your visit is the Grote Markt, the Grote Kerk and the Gorcums Museum in the old town hall. In this museum, you can see modern artworks by various seventeenth-century painters from Gorinchem. Don't forget the windmill Molen Nooit Perfect, which is located near the river Linge. The river runs right through Gorinchem.


The fortified town of Woudrichem is in the Land of Heusden and Altena. The town is located on the river Merwede and was founded in the 9th century. Its strategic position created a local market here. After the city was besieged several times, the city was surrounded by fortress walls.

The historic centre is in remarkably good condition. With the striking figurehead of the Saint Martin Church. Another interesting sight is the Fisheries Museum of Woudrichem. And don't forget the Gevangenpoort, as well as the Never Gedacht tower mill, the historic marina, the fortifications and the Oude Raadhuis.


Zaltbommel has even more to offer besides Slot Loevestein. This fortified town is located at the Waal river and was first mentioned in the year 850. The current city walls were built in the 17th century. From 1834, the famous city architect François de Virieu transformed the fortifications of Zaltbommel into a green landscape park.

On the Kerkplein, you will find old city farms that are still completely intact. The city walls are also worth a visit, which are a national monument. The old water tower and the city castle are also worth a visit.


The GeoFort is an educational theme park. The original name of this modern museum is Fort bij de Nieuwe Steeg. This fortress is located in the city of Herwijnen. At this museum, you can see a part of Dutch history, but you’ll also experience the future of our planet. The fortress is elongated and has seven bombproof buildings and served as a barrier to the Linge and Lingedijk.

More information: (EN)

Fort Everdingen

The fortress of Everdingen is located at the Lek river and nowadays a local beer brewery. You can book tours to see how beer is brewed and of course, do some beer tasting. Furthermore, there is a campground on site.

Waterline Museum on Fort bij Vechten

The Waterline Museum is located on Fort bij Vechten in Bunnik. This is one of the largest fortresses in our country. A visit is worthwhile if you want to know everything about the New Dutch Waterline. And especially about the past. The journey begins in Roman times. Because this fortress is also located on the Roman Limes, the border of the Roman Empire.

More information: (EN)

Trails along the New Dutch Waterline

There are numerous trails that run past parts of the New Dutch Waterline. The majority can be found near Naarden and Weesp, around Utrecht and in the southern part near Gorinchem and Leerdam. These are some of the most fun to do.

Kromme Rijnpad (2 to 29 km)

According to many, this is the most beautiful hike in Utrecht. The Kromme Rijnpad follows an old towpath along the Kromme Rijn river. This path takes you from Wijk bij Duurstede to Utrecht or vice versa of course.

The Kromme Rijn was given an important role in the New Dutch Waterline. To protect the city, the surrounding area had to be flooded. Which took a month. To speed this up, the Kromme Rijn was widened and locks and weirs were built at Wijk bij Duurstede, Cothen and Werkhoven. As a result, putting it underwater only lasted about 5 to 10 days.

The Kromme Rijnpad consists of various routes. The Bunnikse Loop, the Path along Beverweerd and the Rondje Lunetten are popular routes.

More information: (EN)

Arkelpad (13,9 km)

Following the Arkelpad you will walk over the ramparts of Gorinchem. Along the route, you will learn more about the history of the New Dutch Waterline and the different instruments that were used. The trail runs along the Lingehaven, Molden De Hoop, Molen Nooit Perfect and you can cross with the ferry.

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