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Some Dutch history



Stelling van Amsterdam, an early Dutch military floodwater system


The Stelling van Amsterdam, a city wall made of water,1 was a military floodwater system intended as a defense of last refuge during any invasion of the Netherlands.

Constructed between 1874 and 1920,2 the SvA was modeled on earlier Dutch waterlines, and These systems, comprising floodplains, mechanisms, fortifications and artillery, required complex techniques and elaborate cooperation, exquisite hydrological systems but was based upon a simple principle — precise flooding.

Too shallow to sail, too deep to charge, the Stelling van Amsterdam, or "Defense Line of Amsterdam,"3 stood at a distance of between 10 and 15 kilometers from the old city center.

Like most of the Dutch floodwater lines, the SvA served as deterent against incursion but was never deployed.

The first important application of the tactic was in the defense of Leiden in 1574 when rebel holdouts broke dikes in their fight against the domination of the Spanish. The success of the method in that battle inspired invention and refinement that continued as long as the technique remained applicable — until the 20th-century and its military aircraft.


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1.) "A city wall made of water" is a common description of the Stelling van Amsterdam in Dutch writing: "een stadsmuur van water."

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2.) r.e. "between 1874 and 1920:"
The initiation and completion dates of the Stelling van Amsterdam vary between sources.

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3.) The name of the Stelling van Amsterdam is not easy to translate.

The UNESCO World Heritage Committee lists the name of the system in English as the "Defence Line of Amsterdam" (using the European spelling of the word "defense.")

  ↑ Return to "the name of the Stelling van Amsterdam" ...



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