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

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User Reviews

andrei dediu (3 years ago)
Loved the goats. Cool place.
Daniël Danse (3 years ago)
This is awesome, especially on "schuttersdagen" when they shoot some cannons, check the agenda for that one. It's an interesting experience to walk through the "vesting" and get a taste of how it was like living, working and fighting in the old days. Vesting stad Naarden is a beautiful and very interesting town with a rich but bloody history. You can walk around it, very photogenic and in the museum a lot of volunteers who are willing to explain things or show you around.
Wayne Kwan (3 years ago)
Interesting insight into this unique looking fortress. As much of it was in Dutch without English translation,it doesn't take much time to visit all the exhibitions. Because of this I feel like I was limited in what I could get out of it. We were told we could get a free coffee with I AMsterdam card but was told otherwise after ordering. More than happy to support the musuem but would appreciate it if the staff could get their facts correct to avoid future confusion and awkwardness. As buses to this area run infrequently, best to plan ahead to get most of your day.
Robin Scheurwater (3 years ago)
Didn't expect much. I was wrong. It's a excellent organised museum. Very interesting. Well preserved. I would advise to take the guided tour.
Justin Bunch (3 years ago)
Cool museum with fully restored casemates and cannon emplacements. Everything is in Dutch but it's more or self explanatory what the signs are talking about. Lots of good exhibits about the development of European fortification design and the Dutch Waterline defenses.
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