A harness for the capital, a place for the government and royal family to withdraw in times of war. That was the idea when, at the end of the nineteenth century, the National War Office decided to create a strip of between fifteen and twenty meters long as a defense line around Amsterdam. A soggy harness because when the enemy presented itself, access was prevented by flooding (inundating) large pieces of land inside that strip. At the so-called accesses – places that could not be put under water – forts sprang up (42 in all) so that the enemy could not slip through here.
An ingenious piece of Dutch water engineering, that is what you see on the Stelling van Amsterdam trail. Explore seven forts and a tangle of locks, dams, canals and dykes. And with a little imagination you can see the soldiers of the past keeping watch here. Because, since then the landscape has changed very little. For a long time building was forbidden within a radius of one kilometer of the Stelling and so nature has been able to show itself in all its exuberance. Some forts are open to the public, such as those in Edam and Spijkerboor. Here guided tours are given.