Naarden Fortress

Naarden, Netherlands

They took Naarden easily. Its defence works were old and poorly maintained. In the 17th century Naarden was a small fortified town overlooking a stretch of dry ground between the sea and the marshes of the river Vecht (the fortifications dated from the 1570s). After Louis XIV of France invaded the Netherlands in 1672 the fortifications were updated to modern standards. Most of the fortifications that exist today date from this period. The fortifications can be separated into two parts: the part facing the sea and the part facing the land.

During the 19th century the fortifications were updated, resulting in the construction of many new bomb shelters and other army-related buildings like barracks. At the end of the 19th century the increased fire power and range of the artillery made the defences at Naarden useless.

As a consequence of the new strategies used in warfare the emphasis of the fortifications went from the inner to the outer circuit - the covered way. In the 1890s a lot of bomb shelters were built here, most of which still exist. This gives a nice visible illustration of the progression in fortification.

After the First World War the need for Naarden as a fortress was over. The army left and it was turned into a monument and preserved just in time to prevent it from being demolished. You can walk around and inside Naarden freely - the covered way makes an excellent walking path to discover the fortifications.

One of the bastions holds a museum about the fortress, which gives a lot of information about the town's history. The museum also gives access to all the tunnels and casemates, making it a must in exploring the fortress.

The landward fortifications consist of arrow-headed bastions'connected by curtain walls, of which the lower sections were made of bricks. The flanks have two levels; the top level is on the top of the bastion and the lower part is just a few metres above the water. The lower part of the flank, which can be reached through a tunnel from the street behind the bastion gives access to 5 casemates'in the faces of the bastions and a powder magazine. From the lower flank a tunnel leads to a small pier, from which the outworks could be supplied by boat. Beyond the last casemate lies the listening tunnel; a long tunnel along the face of the bastion where guards were able to hear the enemy approaching on the water through holes in the roof.

The large bastion holds the arsenal (now a furniture showroom) as well as a sluice gate. This sluice was used to protect the harbour and to enable ships to come into the town from the sea. Two batardeaux'were built across the ditch to connect the sea dam with the town walls. Around the whole town there was a covered way'with a second ditch in front of it. The town had two gates, of which both the originals have been demolished. The Amsterdam gate doesn’t exist anymore and the current Utrecht gate dates from the 19th century. In the 20th century a third entrance into the town was made.



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Founded: 17th century
Category: Castles and fortifications in Netherlands


4.3/5 (based on Google user reviews)

User Reviews

Len M (11 months ago)
Well worth a visit! Set in the historic town of Naarden. Old Fort with many audio/visual guides. “Speurtocht” is very engaging for kids. Staff were super friendly!
Mark van Zon (11 months ago)
An excellent museum. The staff were super friendly and helpful. The audio guide was decent and the museum has a good mix of outdoor and indoor exhibits. It is good to go when there is no rain, as some outside walking is needed.
icegini (14 months ago)
I finally also visited the museum inside after having visited a few times the outside part of the museum. While I really like seeing the star shaped fortification which you can walk over, get a very good impression of how it was build and why, I thought that the level of the inside museums was a bit lower. Especially if you have to pay for the ticket. Nice is when you go on a day there is the cannon demonstration.
Ewout (16 months ago)
just a nice museum not big . take the audio tour that’s really interesting.
Prajakta Dalvi (2 years ago)
Its a nice place to explore with children. It has a beautiful water canals running around the casle. It has lots of green area and play parks for kids. One can have boating to do in to the canals. Saturday farmer's market had the variety food. A big church with a kids play area in front. A big statue behind the church. An ancient city hall with a guide to tell you about the history of casle. Some remains of old casle. Hobbit look a like houses around the canals. Ohh I forgot to mention there a a small zoo area at the corner before you enter the casle with animals Beers, sheep's , goats, peacocks, Emu etc. In stort is a great place for a day trip for a family.
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