Part of the Oosterscheldekering, you see pilars with slides in between and some traffic on the road over it. The sea in the front and the sky above.

What to know for a visit to the Delta Works

The Delta works (Deltawerken) is what has made The Netherlands world famous in the water management world. They’re one of the landmarks of The Netherlands. It’s possible to visit the Delta works in The Netherlands. Below I will share some history, a few facts and how to visit the Delta works Netherlands. The Deltawerken are in the Southwest of The Netherlands.

Oosterscheldekering as seen from the water, the Oosterschelde in front, clouded sky above. Part of the Delta works

A short history of the Delta Works


In 1953 the Watersnoodramp (North Sea flood of 1953) happened, which was a combination of high spring tide and a storm tide. This caused extensive flooding in The Netherlands, UK and Belgium. There were 1836 deaths in The Netherlands and lots of property damage. The Watersnoodramp had  a large impact on the Dutch people and is still part of the educational program in schools.

The highest marking is how high the water came in 1953

Never again

The Deltawerken Nederland were the Dutch answer to make sure such a disaster would never happen again. The Delta works in Holland is an extensive defense system against high water from the sea, consisting of 6 dams, 3 locks and 5 storm surge barriers. They protect the province of Zeeland, the south of Zuid-Holland and Noord-Brabant. So basically the southwest part of The Netherlands.

The building of the first part started in 1954 with the storm surge barrier Hollandse Ijssel and was done in 1997 with the completement of the Maeslantkering. It took decades to build the Delta works Zeeland and the other provinces, since it had to be done well and it would have an effect of lots of parties. The fishing industry, the population on the islands, the shipping industry and the environmental and nature movements. Since water would change from salt to sweet, going from having tides to being stagnant and ships being able to come further inland.

Delta works facts

The American  Society of Civil Engineers have called the Deltawerken one of the 7 modern world wonders. The coastline was brought down from 700 kilometers to 80 kilometers because of the dams.

The different parts of the Delta works

There are 14 parts compromising the whole Delta Works The Netherlands:

  • Hollandse Ijsselkering;
  • Bathse Spuisluis;
  • Grevelingendam;
  • Zandkreekdam;
  • Veerse Gatdam;
  • Oosterscheldekering;
  • Brouwersdam;
  • Haringvlietsluizen;
  • Maeslantkering;
  • Hartelkering;
  • Volkeraksluizen;
  • Philipsdam;
  • Krammersluizen.

The Oosterscheldekering and Maeslantkering are internationally the most famous. In The Netherlands most people think firstly of the Oosterscheldekering, when thinking about the Deltawerken Zeeland.


The last large project of the Delta works. It consists of 2 large  moveable arms of each 237 meters in length. Both arms together can close off the Nieuwe waterweg (New waterway). This way the area around Rotterdam is protected against high water from the North Sea, but the shipping industry doesn’t suffer from a complete closure.

Deltawerken Oosterschelde

The Oosterscheldekering is the largest storm flood barrier in the world. Before the storm surge barrier was built the chance of a flood was once in 80 years, now it’s less then once in 4000 years.

Part of the Oosterscheldekering`, from further away, with part of Neeltje Jans island in front and the Oosterschelde, part of the Delta works

The building of the stormvloedkering (storm flood barrier) started in 1979. Originally the whole of the Oosterschelde would be closed off from the sea, but after protests they changed it to a half open stormvloedkering with sliding doors. The Oosterscheldekering was the most comprehensive of all the barriers of the Deltaplan, completed in 1986.

Part of the Oosterscheldekering as seen from Neeltje Jans

Before 1979 the shallow parts in the Oosterschelde were already turned into island: Neeltje Jans, Roggenplaat and Noordland. Neeltje Jans became the working island from which and on which all the work was carried out. In between the island 3 streaming channels came to be, these were called de Hammen, Schaar van Roggenplaat and Roompot. The barrier exists out of 65 pillars and 62 slides in between them.

One of the pillars from the Oosterscheldekering

The barrier is closed with a hydraulic system and can be closed in 75 minutes. It’s 8 kilometers in length and closes of the whole of the Oosterschelde. The Oosterscheldekering will be closed when the water is on or above 3 meters N.A.P. It stands for Normaal Amsterdams Peil, which is the same as the average sea level.

The storm flood barrier has been closed 27 times since 1986.

How to experience the Delta works Holland

Experience the Delta works while driving by car, on bike or walking. There was an official Delta works route, but it isn’t offered anymore. But you can still make the route yourself, because it’s perfect for road trips . Or you can make road trips on which you can see some of the Delta works, such as the tulip route Goeree-Overflakkee . Most dams and barriers have roads over/on them.

Oosterscheldekering as seen from the water, with the Oosterschelde in front, clouded sky above, on the right 2 sailing ships.

You can also experience the Delta works from the water with a boat tour. Frisia rondvaarten and others offer one on the Oosterschelde, from which you can see the Oosterscheldekering and more. The Oosterschelde is a national park. We have done a tour with Frisia, which is fun, but we would have loved to come even closer to the Delta works.

Deltapark Neeltje Jans is a perfect way to visit the Oosterscheldekering with kids. The former work island is now a theme park, with lots to learn about the Watersnoodramp, the Deltawerken and the animals from the North Sea and Oosterschelde. Next to that they have things like a waterslide and shows.

Whale statue ta Neeltje Jans

There’s a movie being played about the building of the stormvloedkering, a Watersnoodramp experience and you can visit the storm surge barrier from the inside.

Waterslide at Neeltje Jans, afun thing around the Delta works

Neeltje Jans also has boat tours to see the Oosterscheldekering from the water.

Paul and I have been to the deltapark in 2004, before Yuri was born. We loved the experience of getting up close to the stormvloedkering.

So here’s all you need  to know for a visit to the Deltawerken from one to several days. You can even make a road trip.

When you want to see more of The Netherlands look at a visit to the Hertog Jan Brewery or drive the flower route . When in search of a campsite check out these campsites in The Netherlands .

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This is pretty amazing. I heard about the flood project being worked on years ago but never knew much about it. Quite an impressive engineering feat.

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Yes, it’s really impressive. I love going to the Oosterscheldekering when we’re around that area and just drive over it.

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Cindy Ladage

This is so fascinating we saw some of this on a visit years ago and were so impressed by this ingenuity!

Love that you visited part of it. It’s one of the landmarks of The Netherlands.

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Rob + Ann @TravelLatte

That is very impressive engineering! It’s always amazing to see the history, and the work that goes into massive projects like that. Thanks for sharing!

Yes, love finding out about all the history about a place.

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Lisa | Handmade in Israel

Not on the normal list of places to visit, but how interesting! I grew up in Hull, UK where we also have a tidal barrier to stop the city flooding, but nothing like the size of these.

The tidal barrier in Hull, also looks impressive. Would love to see it.

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I had no idea! Such an interesting attraction – I’m pleased you included some history about the flooding as it was all new (but not surprising, given the geography) to me.

Glad I could introduce you to something unique from The Netherlands.

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This sounds like it’s a very interesting historical site to visit for a day or two. I would enjoy going on a road trip around the area!

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deltawerken visit

Delta Works Tour

Visit the Delta Works in The Netherlands. You’ll learn and experience the struggle against flooding from the sea. Who does not know the Dutch Delta Works: Dutchies are busy for already 50 years to strengthen the country and to protect it from water.

As an old proverb says: God created the world but the Dutch created The Netherlands. Almost 40% of the Netherlands lies below sea level. Floodings of sea and river water caused many victims as for example the 1953 flood disaster during which 1850 people were drowned. The struggle against the water was both defensive, manifest by many dikes and dams, and offensive, as is shown by the many land reclamation works from as early as the 14th century.

What is the Delta Works?

The Delta Works is a defense system in the Netherlands to protect against flooding from the sea, in particular the provinces of Zeeland, southern South Holland and North Brabant. The Dutch built decades to finish The Delta Works. The project was declared complete after the completion of the Oosterscheldekering (1986), The Maeslant Storm Surge Barrier (in 1997) and following the completion of the raising of the dikes to delta height (the Harlingen weir, in August 2010).

Big parts of the Delta works, particularly the Oosterschelde and The Maeslant Storm Surge Barrier, attract international attention. The American Society of Civil Engineers has declared The Delta Works as one of the seven modern wonders of the world.

The Maeslant Storm Surge Barrier is the last part of the Dutch Delta Works and is the world’s largest moveable barrier. This impressive construction cannot be described in words, only experienced. Near the Maeslantkering is The Keringhuis, Public Water Management Information Centre about flood risk management in the Province of Zuid-Holland and the impressive Maeslant Storm Surge Barrier. Here you can visit the exposition or go outside and get a hands-on-experience with pumps and sandbags in the water playground.

Famous Dutch Wind Mills

The Netherlands are famous not only for tulips and cheese, but also for the many wind mills. They were and still are an important part of the water management to keep the land dry and provide energy. All through The Netherlands, but especially in the Holland region, you can still find the old wind mills in the polder landscape. Some still working and others to preserve Dutch history. The windmills and waterways tell the tale of the Low Countries. Travel back in time and experience the story of windmills, water, and willpower!

Unesco World Heritage Kinderijk is a site with about 19 authentic windmills. 742 Years of Dutch watermanagement history and 15 out of the 19 windmills are still inhabited. When you visit Kinderdijk, you step right into the middle of Dutch history. Everything here lies below sea level, so to keep our feet dry, we have been cooperating with the wind and water for centuries.

Delta Works & Wind Mill Tour

Rotterdam Experience organises private (no regular) excursions to different parts of the Delta Works or windmills or a combination of both. These tours can include transportation (touring car, bike, boat), lunch, a guide, visit of the Maeslant Storm Surge Barrier and the Oosterschelde Storm Surge Barrier and much more.

These tours are a special experience you will never forget.

Interesting? For more information send us an mail [email protected] , call us at +31(0)6 498 69 004or fill in our contact form below.

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Delta Works

deltawerken visit

  • 1 Understand
  • 2.1 Public transit
  • 3 Get around
  • 4.1 Visitor centres and viewing points
  • 6 Eat, drink, and sleep
  • 7.1 Zuid-Holland
  • 7.2 Zeeland
  • 7.3 Noord-Brabant

The Delta Works (Dutch: Deltawerken ) are a series of flood protection structures built between 1950 and 1997 in the southwest of the Netherlands , to protect a large area of land around the Rhine-Meuse-Scheldt delta from the sea. The works consist of dams, sluices, locks, dikes, and storm surge barriers. Along with the Zuiderzee Works , they have been declared one of the Seven Wonders of the Modern World by the American Society of Civil Engineers.

Understand [ edit ]

deltawerken visit

The estuaries of the Rhine, Meuse and Scheldt have been subject to flooding for centuries. After construction of the Afsluitdijk in the north of the country completed in 1933, the Netherlands started studying the damming of the Rhine-Meuse Delta. Plans were developed to turn the delta into a group of freshwater lakes. New dams, sluices, and storm surge barriers would be built to shorten the coastline, thus reducing the number of dikes that had to be raised. Due to indecision and World War II, little progress was made. In 1950 two small estuary mouths, the Brielse Gat near Brielle and the Botlek near Vlaardingen were dammed. Then the flood of 1953 ( Watersnoodramp ) took place. In the night of Saturday 31 January 1953 and the morning of 1 February 1953, a heavy storm caused a storm tide. Nearly 2,000 people died in the flood and there was widespread property damage, mostly in the province of Zeeland.

As a result, the Delta Works Commission was installed to research the causes and develop measures to prevent such disasters in future. They revised some of the old plans and came up with the Deltaplan . The plan consisted of blocking the estuary mouths of the Oosterschelde, the Haringvliet and the Grevelingen. This reduced the length of the dikes exposed to the sea by 700 km (430 mi). The mouths of the Nieuwe Waterweg and the Westerschelde were to remain open because these were used as important shipping routes to the ports of Rotterdam and Antwerp . The dikes along these waterways were to be heightened and strengthened. New road and waterway instructure would be built alongside the Deltaworks to stimulate the economy of Zeeland and improve the connection between the ports of Rotterdam and Antwerp.

Plans for a coastline construction had been suggested long before, and small steps had been taken, but it was the 1953 flood that led to the rapid development of the Delta Works. With the Delta Works in place, disastrous floods like the one in 1953 should occur no more than once every 4,000 years. In total, the Delta Works are the largest storm barrier in the world and have served as an example to many similar projects all over the world.

Get in [ edit ]

deltawerken visit

The Delta Works consists of structures that are scattered over Zeeland and South Holland . To explore them, you can stay the night in Rotterdam or one of the other larger destinations in area, hire a car there and then drive out to some of these structures, while also taking in some of Zeeland's endless flat vistas. The Oosterscheldekering and the Maeslantkering are the most interesting attractions to visit, and while driving, you can lay out a route over some of the other dams and dykes.

To go directly to the Deltapark Neeltje Jans, coming from the Randstad , take either the Rotterdam-Beneluxtunnel or the Brienenoordbridge. Then, take direction Zierikzee over the A15-A29-N59. After Zierikzee follow direction Burgh-Haamstede and take exit Westenschouwen/Middelburg (N57). You should follow the signs towards Neeltje Jans and then the signs to Deltapark. The N57 is one of the main roads, connecting several of the dams and leading along the Deltapark Neeltje Jans. If you're using a navigation system to get to the Deltapark, set it on "Faelweg, in Vrouwenpolder".

Public transit [ edit ]

The Deltapark is well-reachable by public transport in summer, but there are limited services in winter. Take a train to Middelburg and from there, take bus line 133 . The whole trip should take 2 to 2½ hr one way, from Rotterdam.

Get around [ edit ]

It's possible to drive over the Delta Works by car, to get an idea of the massive nature of the structure. At the Haringvliet Expo and Deltapark Neeltje Jans you'll find all kinds of information about the different elements of the construction and it's possible to see part of the dams from the inside.

See [ edit ]


Visitor centres and viewing points [ edit ]

  • 51.82633 4.0442 2 Expo Haringvliet , Haringvlietplein 3, Stellendam , ☏ +31 187 499-913 . This is mainly a nice place for having a drink while getting the best view over the Haringvlietdam. You can also see a film and some pictures about the 1953 flood. €5 .  

Works [ edit ]

deltawerken visit

The fourteen works below are rarely in action, which in itself is a good thing. They are most often only active during storms. The first time the five major works were closed was January 3, 2018. In January 2018, the requirements for closing the weirs and dams were lowered to keep the Delta Works from rusting away and being able to be used when another extreme tide comes along. The listings below are sorted in chronological order of completion.

Do [ edit ]

deltawerken visit

  • Walk or cycle up to the Oosterscheldekering, especially when it's very windy (7 bft or more).
  • Spend a day at the Deltapark Neeltje Jans. Especially with kids, there're plenty of fun activities around to fill a day's out. Watch an earless seal show at the park, or even join the animals for a swim. It takes a serious fee or €55, but swimming (under professional guidance) with the seals in the park is a pretty special experience. For an even bigger thrill, opt for a swim session with the sharks.
  • At the Deltapark, you can hop on a boat for a seal-spotting trip through the neighbouring Oosterschelde National Park.
  • The Oosterschelde National Park has many dive sites [dead link] , amongst which are Gorishoek/De Punt, Wemeldinge, Goese Sas derde breker, Stavenisse Keetenweg and Pijlers van de Zeelandbrug.

Eat, drink, and sleep [ edit ]

The visitor's centres are all meant as day trip destinations and there's no accommodation available in any of them. There's plenty of places to stay in the many towns, though. Renesse , Middelburg , Vlissingen and Hellevoetsluis are just a few of the most popular destinations in the region, and all have plenty of lodging and camping opportunities. Check the destination guides for individual listings.

The same goes for bars and restaurants, and for dinner your best option is to go to one of the towns. At the Haringvlietdam and in Deltapark Neeltje Jans, however, there are restaurants that serve lunch. Plates may include mossels (mussels), which are harvested from the Oosterschelde.

  • Zoet of zout , Haringvlietplein 3, Stellendam , ☏ +31 187 499-913 .  
  • Restaurant Deltapark Neeltje Jans , Faelweg 5, Vrouwenpolder ( In the Deltapark ). The theme park restaurant has a nice view and serves simple but good lunch dishes. On request, they cater (also dinner) for larger groups of 20 or more people.  

Nearby cities [ edit ]

Zuid-holland [ edit ].

  • Rotterdam — Modern harbour city, being bombed to oblivion in the Second World War, modern architecture and art are blooming in the city of Europort.
  • Hook of Holland — The gateway to England, with ferries to Harwich and Kingston upon Hull , as well as a popular beachfront.
  • The Hague — Political capital of the Netherlands, with attractions from Madurodam to the Binnenhof and Mauritshuis.
  • Dordrecht — Historically one of the six important cities of the County of Holland.

Zeeland [ edit ]

  • Zierikzee — Historical centre of Schouwen-Duiveland.
  • Tholen — Two joined peninsulas disconnected from the mainland by the Scheldt-Rhine Canal.
  • Middelburg — The capital city of Zeeland.
  • Westkapelle — Famous seaside town that is a popular summer retreat for many.
  • Terneuzen — Mostly industrious city on the exclave of Zeeuws-Vlaanderen.
  • Het Verdronken Land van Saeftinghe — A demonstration of how Zeeland might have looked if it hasn't had the Delta Works: Saeftinghe once was a town that was completely washed away during a flood and instead of being reclaimed, it became a nature reserve.

Noord-Brabant [ edit ]

  • Bergen op Zoom

See also [ edit ]

  • Afsluitdijk — A long dike separating the Wadden Sea from the IJsselmeer, which in itself was formed as a result of the completion of this dike. It connects North Holland to Friesland .
  • Noordoostpolder — A gigantic polder reclaimed from the Zuiderzee in the 1930s.
  • Flevoland — Noordoostpolder 2.0 with the additions of randmeren (edge-lakes) to not harm the already existing land.

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deltawerken visit

  • Dutch Delta Works

Dutch Delta Works tickets and guided tours

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The Netherlands private day trip to the Dutch Delta Works from Amsterdam

The Netherlands private day trip to the Dutch Delta Works from Amsterdam

Explore the Dutch Delta Works on this private guided tour form Amsterdam. See one of the 7 modern wonders of the world and enjoy a relaxed tour.

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The inside story

Discover the world’s biggest storm surge barrier, located in the Netherlands Zeeland region, at the Delta Works. This enormous chain of flood protection structures were conceived following the North Sea flood of 1953 that led to 8,361 fatalities. After laying 13 dams, including barriers, sluices, locks, dikes and levees, the project was finished in 1997 and cost a total of 5 billion dollars. The completed infrastructure not only provides flood protection but also brings the surrounding areas fresh drinking water and irrigation.

The largest and best-known link in the Delta Works is the Eastern Scheldt Storm Surge Barrier - Oosterscheldekering. Following protests, the colossal 9 kilometers long barrier was redesigned as a dam with sliding gates to be closed during heavy storms or spring tides.

Situated halfway between Noord-Beveland and Schouwen-Duiveland in the Oosterschelde you’ll find the island of Neeltje Jans. This artificial land was originally fabricated to facilitate the construction of the Oosterscheldedam. Today visitors can visit the Deltapark Neeltje Jans on the isle to learn about the Delta Works in an underwater theme park. Children can play in the water playground and there is even a hurricane simulator!

deltawerken visit

How to get there

GO Experience | Private Delta Works Tour - the largest flood protection system in the world

Delta Works Tour

Delta Works Holland Holanda

The Delta Works, consisting of 13 sections, together form the largest flood protection system in the world and are definitely worth a visit. Experience this imposing project with a Delta Works Tour. Incorporating among others storm surge barriers, dikes, dams and sluice gates –, also referred to as one of the seven wonders of the world, the Delta Works illustrate how the Dutch deal with water. If Holland didn’t protect itself against the waters, half of Holland would be submerged. Furthermore, they lie in a gorgeous environment with wonderful beaches, beautiful nature and many culinary spots.

Visit the real Delta area in the south western part of Holland, about 120 km south west of Amsterdam. Enjoy a specialised tour at the East Scheldt or Maeslant Storm Surge Barrier, one of the largest moving structures on earth. Driving over impressive dams of the Delta works in the south west we enter the province (state) of Zeeland hit by a severe flooding in 1953, which caused 1850 lives.

Eastern Scheldt Storm Surge Barrier (Oosterscheldekering)

The Delta Works – incorporating among others a storm surge barrier, dikes, dams and sluice gates – have much to offer for everyone who wishes to see how the Dutch deal with and protect themselves against the waters. The main attraction of the Delta Works is the Eastern Scheldt Storm Surge Barrier, a unique flood protection construction of 8 kilometers in length, that can shut off the entire Eastern Scheldt in 75 minutes. This ingenious system of 62 enormous sliding gates is meant to prevent a disastrous flood like the one in 1953. The gates are open during normal weather, preserving the marine tide nature and allowing delicious oysters to still be cultivated and Eastern Scheldt lobster to still be caught today.

Deltapark Neeltje Jans, a water theme park on an island in the middle of the Eastern Scheldt Storm Surge Barrier, is a place where you can enjoy gorgeous nature, culture and technology. You can also visit the Delta Experience there, where you will learn everything about the notorious North Sea Flood of 1953.

Maeslant Storm Surge Barrier (Maeslantkering)

But the Maeslant Storm Surge Barrier, the last component of the Delta Works located in the neighboring province of South Holland, is definitely worth a visit as well. Its large ‘arms’ – consisting of floating pontoons – can be filled with water to make them sink and form a solid barrier. In short, it’s a spectacular project that to this day protects the densely populated area around Nieuwe Waterweg and Het Scheur waterways in the Hook of Holland.

Interested in private Delta Works Tour?

GO Experience can arrange tailor made tours to visit the Delta Works. Depending on your time and budget we make a program including transfers, private specialised guide(s), entrance tickets, a fitting lunch or dinner and more. The Delta Works can also be combined with a visit of Rotterdam or Unesco Kinderdijk Windmills . A drainage system consisting of 19 windmills (built around 1740), formerly used to keep the Alblasserwaard polder area dry.

For a request or more information, send an e-mail to [email protected] or fill out our contact form below.

Delta Works como destino de viagem

O Delta Works é composto por 13 seções que formam o maior sistema de proteção contra inundações no mundo e, definitivamente, vale a pena visitar. Este projeto imponente – incorporando entre outros uma barreira contra tempestade, diques, barragens e portões de esclusas – também conhecido como uma das sete maravilhas do mundo, ilustra como os holandeses lidam com a água. Se a Holanda não se protegesse contra as águas, metade do país estaria submerso. Além disso, estão localizados em um ambiente maravilhoso com belas praias, natureza e culinária.

A principal atração do Delta Works é a Barreira de Sobretensão da Escalda Oriental (Eastern Scheldt Storm Surge Barrier), uma construção única de proteção contra inundações de 8 quilômetros de extensão, que pode desligar todo o Scheldt Oriental em 75 minutos. Também o Maeslant Storm Surge Barrier outro local que vale a pena visitar. Os seus grandes “braços” – constituídos por pontões flutuantes – podem ser preenchidos com água para fazê-los afundar e formar uma barreira sólida. O Deltapark Neeltje Jans, um parque temático de água em uma ilha no meio da Barreira de Sobretensão do Estribal, é um lugar onde você pode desfrutar da natureza, cultura e tecnologia. Você também pode visitar a Delta Experience, onde aprenderá tudo sobre a Inundação do Mar do Norte de 1953.

For more information or a request, don’t hesitate to contact us. Mobile / Whatsapp: +31(0)6 498 69 004 E-mail: [email protected]

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  • Delta Works

The flooding of the Netherlands in 1953 made it very clear how vulnerable the land and the people living there were. Therefore with a huge effort, the Delta Works project was made to create a new and better protection to make sure this would not happen again.

The Delta Works protects a large area of land around the Rhine-Meuse-Scheldt delta from the sea. Delta Works is a very complicated collection of locks, sluices, channels, bridges, slides, dams, dikes, storm surge barriers and gates working together.

The aim of the dams, sluices, and storm surge barriers was to shorten the Dutch coastline, thus reducing the number of dikes that had to be raised. This dam consists of several strings of gates and their massive supporting pylons which, in normal weather, allow tidal sea waters to ebb and flow in the Eastern Schelde estuary, thus benefiting the fish, bird life and the local fisheries.

The four great estuaries in the south-western Netherlands should be closed with dams. These closures should be done in a special order because of tidal movements of shipping and fishing, this guarantees for the economy of the country.

The piers and their mechanisms had to be lifted into precise positions in the estuary. But the type of equipment needed for such gargantuan and specialized tasks did not exist anywhere in the world; it had to be invented. The piers support 300- to 500-ton steel gates and their hydraulic machinery, as well as a roadway above and load-bearing beams below.

The Oosterscheldedam is on one of the two artificial islands situated in Zeeland, just an hour and a half driving distance from Amsterdam and half an hour from Dordrecht where the structure is located; it is a recommend for those interested in water management. Three kilometres long, this anti-tempest dam is constituted of 65 pillars between which one can slide 62 iron flood-gates.

The height of one pillar is 38 meter and its weight 18.000 tons. When the sea becomes dangerous, one hour is enough to lower the flood gates. This system affords to keep 75% of the tide amplitude as well as the fishing industry, the breed of mussels and oysters and above all, the unique eco-system of The Biesbosch.

One of the latest improvements of the Delta plan was the storm surge barrier in the New Waterway near Hoek van Holland built in 1997. It consists of two enormous doors mounted on swing arms that can be used to close the estuary if storm and high water requires in order protecting the country.

During the night of January 31, 1953, to force 12 north westerly windstorm pounded the coast of Zeeland. The weakened dikes, drenched with water, ultimately gave way, flooding the islands of Goeree-Overflakkee, Tholen and Schouwen-Duiveland. The result was disastrous 1835 fatalities, 100000 evacuees, and 200000 hectares of land under water.

After that a commission was installed which had to come up with a plan to research the causes and seek measures to prevent such disasters in future. They revised some of the old plans; the plans were made to connect the South Holland and Zeeland islands by dams.

The combination of these plans and dams was called the Delta Plan. The Dutch government unanimously accepted the Delta Act in 1958, thus laying the foundation for the Delta Works. In 1959, the Delta Law was passed, in order to organise the construction of the dams.

close up of the Delta Works project

The dikes along these waterways were to be heightened and strengthened. The works would be combined with road and waterway infrastructure to stimulate the economy of the province of Zeeland and improve the connection between the port of Rotterdam and Antwerp.

The Delta Works consist of more than dams and dikes alone; locks are also needed for transporting high water to the Rhine. Therefore drainage locks have been built in the Haringvliet. These locks began operating in 1971 and have 17 openings, each 56.5 meters wide. The Brouwers Dam in the Brouwershaven Gat was completed in 1972.

Oosterschelde Flood Barrier was created to prevent the creation of too many freshwater areas in Holland, the flood barrier locks are usually kept open and only close during times of extremely high storm tides. This structure, one of the largest in the world, cost 5.5 billion guilders to build and was opened on October 4, 1986.

This project led to dangerous tides causing dangerous floods have been reduced, now are lovely areas to explore by boat. Some of the uncovered shores have become recreation parks. Many sandbars and shores, however, especially in the Oosterschelde, are part of an important nature reserve. It was the largest project of its kind anywhere in the world and took 30 years to build. It is known as the Delta Project.

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Dutch Delta Works: from engineering feat to cultural statement

8 June 2017 By Ronald Rietveld , Erik Rietveld and David Habets Essays


RAAAF and Atelier de Lyon are transforming the disused Delta Flume into an intense spatial memorial

‘Never again!’: this was the credo after the North Sea flood of 1953, which caused widespread destruction in the UK, Belgium and most severely in the Netherlands. The response of the nations affected was not of depression, however; the event heralded a culture of optimism and masterplanning with several grands projets . In the UK, it materialised with the construction of storm surge barriers on the River Thames, while in the Netherlands, a vast series of dams, sluices and dykes was planned.

The goal was to close off the streams of the delta from the sea, to reclaim the land and keep it safe in the future. Ambitious engineering works would guarantee a near-indestructible delta – even if the catastrophic coastal storm flood appears just once in 10,000 years – leading to what some have since called the Eighth Wonder of the World: the Delta Works. Realised between 1954 and 1997, it was in 1986 that Queen Beatrix announced: ‘The Storm Surge Barrier has been shut, the Delta Works are completed, the Netherlands are safe again.’

Map of flooded areas and Delta Works by RAAAF and Atelier de Lyon

Click to download

Paradoxically, the  maakbaarheid  (‘makeability’) that has been so emblematic of Holland’s struggle against water is now considered outdated. Climate change, rising sea levels and societal attention to nature have forced engineers in recent decades to update the ‘hard’ Delta Works. With a view to ‘building with nature’, the country is focusing its energy on more ‘natural methods’ such as sand suppletion, to counter the effects of erosion and replenish what the sea eats away. Currently just north of the port of Rotterdam is the experimental Sand Motor, an enormous manmade sand plateau expected to replace the need for manual replenishment as the North Sea currents redistribute the plateau’s sand and reinforce eroding beaches and dunes.

Although the focus shifted from vast civil architecture projects to engineering more natural processes, the Delta Plan is still the most revolutionary and exciting episode in the Netherlands’ long history of water management. The Dutch culture of planning originates in this struggle against water, a tradition of reclaiming land with grand designs that dates as far back as the 17th century, when Jan Adriaanszoon Leeghwater created the ‘De Beemster’ polder – a low-lying tract of land enclosed by dykes. Characterised by multidisciplinary design and integral planning, this tradition dares to tackle nationwide projects – the Delta Works being the fullest and most ultimate expression. They elicit great pride to this day.


Source: Afdeling Multimedia Rijkswaterstaat

In 1953, great devastation was caused by the floods

Typical of the Modernist period when the Delta Works were conceived, was the application of hard and uncompromising materials on a scale just as uncompromising: gigantic concrete pylons, monstrous steel constructions, colossal asphalt dykes and mountains of Irish basalt. For more than 40 years, the delta served as a construction site of utopian experiences, challenging engineers to invent tools, vehicles and materials. Cable cars conveyed very heavy concrete blocks, huge pylons transported complete ships, drilling machines worked underwater and mesh boats handled city-sized steel foundation meshes filled with stones to be laid on the bottom of the sea.

‘The Dutch culture of planning originates in this struggle against water, a tradition of reclaiming land with grand designs’

After 20 years of experimentation, evaluating and learning from the first components of the Delta Works, the engineers progressed to the masterpiece: the Oosterschelde flood barrier. The first 4km were built as a closed dam, like Grevelingendam, but construction was halted in 1974 due to resistance to the project. In the wake of the environmental movement of the ’70s, renewed appreciation for nature and ecological diversity led to a change of mindsets and militated against the gradual disappearance of the delta’s unique flora and fauna, demanding that the last, and largest, flood barrier would close only in a storm flood – a technical challenge for the engineers. Some 65 colossal concrete pillars of 18,000 tons apiece were prefabricated in special dry-docks and positioned against the strong tidal currents by the gigantic Ostrea construction ships; 62 steel sliding doors ensured that the storm surge barrier could be kept open over a length of 3km, and closed in a bad storm. An architecture of this scale calls for unity, so it was painted in one colour to accentuate scale and repetition, while the different heights of the hydraulic cylinders emphasise the channel depth, allowing this hidden landscape to be read.

Urn gvn nfa04 akl 610462 5 medium

Urn gvn nfa04 akl 610462 5 medium

Source: Aart Klein / Nederlands Fotomuseum

The Haringvlietdam sluices erected in the 1960’s

While the Delta Works were emerging out of both land and water in the south-west, a lesser known but unique component of Dutch water-management history was under construction on the other side of the country: an open-air hydrodynamic laboratory, built in 1951, in a newly created forest through which water naturally flowed. The Waterloopbos was essentially a laboratory as large as an entire piece of landscape, where scale models and 1:1 tests could be carried out, informing the design and engineering of the Delta Works on the coast, as well as a few water works later on.

Because computer models did not exist at the time, everything had to be built by hand and tested at various scales. Throughout their development and construction, the Delta Works were accompanied by a strong willingness to experiment and innovate. The Waterloopbos’s sheltered environment, protected from the polder’s violent winds, enabled the engineers to safely test their wildest ideas. Several designs were considered for the different flood barriers, many of which were tested at full scale. Fluid mechanics and dynamics were observed and examined, for instance by dropping pieces of paper into the water and analysing the flows and currents against a grid of tensioned ropes. Crucial to the successful development of the Eighth Wonder of the World, the Waterloopbos is integral to the Delta Works.



To simulate high and low tides, the full span of the Oosterscheldekering ( kering meaning barrier) was erected in a giant hall. Its innovative open flood barriers were an engineering feat, and it was crucial that the new designs were tested against waves of immense size and force. To achieve this, a new concrete construction was erected at the Waterloopbos: the Delta Flume, another masterpiece of delta experimentation. The first of its kind, this 300m long artificial channel fitted with a wave generator was capable of producing the world’s largest artificial waves – as tall as 5m. Virtually indestructible, the Oosterschelde flood barrier was eventually opened in 1986.

The delta experiments in the Waterloopbos, and the built structures, prompted innovative scientific research that forms the basis of the Netherlands’ strong position in hydrodynamic engineering. This is useful for contemporary computer models used to calculate the impact of new interventions and water streams. The quest for an indestructible delta led to a culture of physical experimentation and innovation on the scale of models and at actual scale in the hydrodynamic laboratory. The Netherlands still benefits from this research, as it remains one of the greatest scientific and engineering Dutch export products.

Untitled 9b

The hydrodynamic laboratory has been closed in recent years and, although it received the status of national monument, the testing models are deteriorating after decades of inactivity – today, it is a museum-park. The Delta Flume remains the most impressive permanent construction in this landscape of scale models, and the Dutch government consequently decided to turn the structure into a national monument, Deltawerk 1:1. RAAAF was commissioned with Atelier de Lyon by the Dutch Cultural Heritage Agency and Natuurmonumenten to design an architectural/art installation due to open in September 2018.

The proposal Deltawerk 1:1 is the opposite of simple preservation of built cultural heritage. It is rather an experiment in cultural heritage itself. By excavating the sand plateau around the flume, a huge experimental Delta Work, 7m high and 250m long, is unveiled and surrounded by water. Massive concrete slabs are cut out of the 800mm thick walls, turned 90 degrees around their axis and placed at an angle in the resulting void. This new space offers an intense spatial experience of light, shadows and reflections, while opening up vistas on the surrounding Waterloopbos. In future, the slabs will be colonised by nature and the visitors’ spatial experience will change through the days, seasons and years.

Untitled 10

Deltawerk 1:1 by RAAAF and Atelier de Lyon transforms the disused Delta Flume – a 300m-long wave machine originally constructed in the Waterloopbos to test experimental flood defences – into an intense spatial memorial

The installation will raise questions about how to deal with the future of the Delta Works – when climate change requires new built structures, will they become obsolete? The mere preservation of these projects does not create new meaning or guarantee their relevance in an ever-changing context. Dealing with obsolete and vacant architecture represents a global challenge for the profession, and demands a site-specific approach of carefully designed interventions. Deltawerk 1:1 is a monumental tribute to the majestic architecture of indestructible Holland.

While monuments are typically regarded as immutable and untouchable, and so tend to fade from public imagination and memory, RAAAF’s approach of ‘Hardcore Heritage’ marks a new way of thinking about cultural heritage and a different design approach to monuments. Initiated with Bunker 599 (AR Dec 2013), in which a Second World War pillbox was bisected to create a walkway alongside the Diefdijk, Hardcore Heritage advocates ‘built manifestoes’ and seeks to create a new field of tension between past, present and future, by encouraging deliberate destruction, radical contextual changes and seemingly contradictory additions. This cut-through bunker was part of a wider initiative, following the Belvedere policy, launching new projects to both develop and preserve historical sites. The New Dutch Water Line will be a 21st-century landscape park for the Randstad megalopolis, with innovative design projects, such as Bunker 599 and Fort Vechten (AR Jan 2016) promoting art and culture along the 80km historic defence line.

The preservation of historical heritage needn’t be static and boring – instead, it could provoke architects to confront previous societal evolution and reassess it against contemporary desires. In fact, beyond innovations in engineering, the Delta Works instigated a brand new recreational culture. The ideal way to explore the Delta Works was, after all, by turning to the quintessential vehicle of the modern age: the car. Enjoying their new-found mobility, people visited the manmade asphalt beaches of Brouwersdam and Philipsdam. Even if initially considered obsolete, historical heritage can be injected with fresh relevance.

Wtk hr dg boven aanzicht

Wtk hr dg boven aanzicht

Wtk hr dg zij aanzicht

Wtk hr dg zij aanzicht

Delta Works

Architect: RAAAF & Atelier de Lyon

Photographs: Jaap Boelens Rijkswaterstaat, Afdeling Multimedia Rijkswaterstaat, Kees Molkenboer, Aart Klein / Nederlands Fotomuseum

Lead Image : Oosterschelde flood barrier. Source: Jaap Boelens Rijkswaterstaat

This piece is featured in the AR’s June 2017 issue on water –  click here to purchase a copy

deltawerken visit

Since 1896, The Architectural Review has scoured the globe for architecture that challenges and inspires. Buildings old and new are chosen as prisms through which arguments and broader narratives are constructed. In their fearless storytelling, independent critical voices explore the forces that shape the homes, cities and places we inhabit.

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  • Openingstijden
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  • De dijken breken
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Nederland beschermen tegen het water. het is een strijd van alle tijden in het laaggelegen land. rijkswaterstaat deed in 1937 uitgebreid onderzoek en de conclusie was even helder als onthutsend: nederland is niet duurzaam veilig voor het water en er moet echt iets gebeuren. de deltacommissie – opgericht enkele weken na de watersnoodramp van 1953 – krijgt de opdracht een plan te maken., bekijk de deltawerken.


Het deltaplan van de Deltacommissie Simpelweg nieuwe dijken bouwen kon echter niet overal en het was bovendien erg duur. Het plan om alle riviermondingen – Westerschelde, Oosterschelde, Haringvliet en Brouwershavens Gat – af te dammen werd geboren. Het Deltaplan. Een groots project. Zo omvangrijk dat er in eerste instantie gekozen werd voor een geleidelijke uitvoering ervan. In het eerste advies van de Deltacommissie staat dat de zeegaten afgesloten moeten worden. Dat betekent het einde van van de mossel- en oestervisserij. Er komt protest – met als strijdkreet Oosterschelde Open – en uiteindelijk wordt er gekozen voor een afsluitbare kering. Lees op Deltaplan meer over de geschiedenis van het plan.

De ramp De Watersnoodramp van 1953 – waarbij 1835 mensen omkwamen, honderden dieren verdronken en 150.000 hectare grond onder zeewater kwam te staan – maakte alles anders. Uitstellen van het Deltaplan kon niet meer. Binnen twintig dagen na die fatale februarinacht werd een Deltacommissie geïnstalleerd die aan de slag ging met het plan om Nederland beter te beschermen tegen het water.

Deltawet De Deltawet omvat een uitgebreid verdedigingssysteem tegen hoogwater van de zee in Zeeland, zuidelijk Zuid-Holland en Noord-Brabant. Het realiseren van de Deltawet was geen simpele klus want water is een vijand, maar ook een vriend. Veel handel gaat via waterwegen. De Nieuwe Waterweg en de Westerschelde moesten open blijven ten behoeve van de havens van Rotterdam en Antwerpen. In 1959 – zes jaar na de watersnoodramp – werd de Deltawet vastgesteld. Een jaar daarvoor was om de dichtbevolkte Randstad te beschermen tegen overstroming de stormvloedkering in de Hollandse IJssel in gebruik genomen.

Daarna volgden de afdamming van het Veerse Gat en de Zandkreek (1961), Haringvlietsluizen (1971) en Brouwersdam (1972). Om de afsluitdammen aan te kunnen leggen werden hulpdammen aangelegd in Zandkreek (1961),  Grevelingen (1965) en Volkerak (1969). Deze dammen zorgen voor de verdeling van het water in beheersbare hoeveelheden (compartimenten).

Locaties Deltawerken Bron: Rijkswaterstaat

Stormvloedkering Het sluitstuk van de Deltawerken – de stormvloedkering in de Oosterschelde – volgde een flink stuk later. Zowel vissers als natuurbeschermers protesteerden hevig tegen een plan voor een dichte dam in de Oosterschelde. De Oosterschelde compleet afdammen, zou schadelijk zijn voor zowel het unieke zoutwatermilieu als de visstand. De strijdkreet OSO (Oosterschelde Open) maakte opgang.

In 1976 werd een alternatief plan gelanceerd: een kering met 62 openingen van 40 meter breed. Bij verwacht extreem hoog water konden die openingen met hydraulische schuiven worden gesloten om het achterland te beschermen. Het 2.5 miljard euro kostende project werd uitgevoerd. Op 4 oktober 1986 werd de kering – een staaltje van Hollands waterbouwkundig vernuft – feestelijk geopend door koningin Beatrix.

De Deltawerken zijn Nederlands grootste verdedigingssysteem tegen hoogwater vanuit zee.


  • Haringvlietsluizen
  • Volkeraksluizen
  • Bathse Spuisluis
  • Philipsdam (met Krammersluizen)


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  1. What to know for a visit to the Delta Works

    The Deltawerken Nederland were the Dutch answer to make sure such a disaster would never happen again. The Delta works in Holland is an extensive defense system against high water from the sea, consisting of 6 dams, 3 locks and 5 storm surge barriers. They protect the province of Zeeland, the south of Zuid-Holland and Noord-Brabant.

  2. the Delta Works

    The Delta works are one of the most famous works in the world. The Netherlands is located more than half below sea level. For everyone's safety, the Delta Works were built to prevent a repeat of the flood disaster in 1953. At Deltapark Neeltje Jans you can experience history again; from the flood to the construction of the Delta Works.

  3. Deltawerken Oosterschelde

    The best way to see the Deltaworks is to take a car and drive the semi-highway along the coast between Rotterdam and Vrouwenpolder. You will cross several dams, scenic farmland scenery and lake-side villages. Especially the spot at Neeltje Jans (free parking at the sea-side) is good to stop, as you can walk very near to the dams, and it is an ...

  4. Delta Works Tour The Netherlands

    For more information send us an mail [email protected] , call us at +31 (0)6 498 69 004or fill in our contact form below. Visit the Delta Works in The Netherlands. You'll learn and experience how the Dutch struggle against flooding from the sea. The Maeslant Storm Surge Barrier.

  5. Delta Works

    The Delta Works (Dutch: Deltawerken) are a series of flood protection structures built between 1950 and 1997 in the southwest of the Netherlands, to protect a large area of land around the Rhine-Meuse-Scheldt delta from the sea.The works consist of dams, sluices, locks, dikes, and storm surge barriers. Along with the Zuiderzee Works, they have been declared one of the Seven Wonders of the ...

  6. Zeeland's Delta Works

    In the night of 31 January 1953, a massive storm brought devastation to parts of the Netherlands. Large tracts of land in Zeeland were inundated with water resulting in a great many fatalities. The Delta Works were intended to make sure that no such disaster could ever happen again. These sea defences effectively closed off the large tidal inlets.

  7. Delta Works

    The Delta Works (Dutch: Deltawerken) is a series of construction projects in the southwest of the Netherlands to protect a large area of land around the Rhine-Meuse-Scheldt delta from the sea. Constructed between 1954 and 1997, the works consist of dams, sluices, locks, dykes, levees, and storm surge barriers located in the provinces of South Holland and Zeeland.

  8. Netherlands Delta Works: Wonder of the Modern World (Guide)

    The Delta and Zuiderzee Works are located in various parts of the Netherlands; we obviously didn't have the luxury of time to visit every spot, so we decided to check out one: the 9-km long Oosterscheldekering. Located between the islands Schouwen-Duiveland and Noord-Beveland, it is the largest of the 13 ambitious Delta Works series!

  9. Dutch Delta Works Tickets and Guided Tours

    Dutch Delta Works 4675 RB Vrouwenpolder, Netherlands Middelburg. Take me there. Book tickets and guided tours of the Dutch Delta Works. Discover the world's biggest storm surge barrier consisting of 13 dams, sluices, locks, dykes, levees located in the provinces of South Holland and Zeeland.

  10. Delta Works Tour

    Visit the real Delta area in the south western part of Holland, about 120 km south west of Amsterdam. Enjoy a specialised tour at the East Scheldt or Maeslant Storm Surge Barrier, one of the largest moving structures on earth. Driving over impressive dams of the Delta works in the south west we enter the province (state) of Zeeland hit by a ...

  11. Visit The Delta Works in Vrouwenpolder

    Another impressive Delta Works storm surge barrier is the Maeslant in South-Holland. It uses a different mechanism to the Oosterscheldekering, so it could be worth a visit if you're interested. Getting There. By Car: The Oosterscheldekering is along the N57. Or use parking near the beach in Vrouwenpolder.

  12. Delta Works

    Park Delta works - boat trip - water and fun - sea lions; Plan your visit prices - tickets - opening hours - contact; Meet the animals closer to seals - swimming with sharks - picture with sea lion; Groups groups - business - events - school trip - excursion; Guided tours strom surge barrier - bluereef

  13. The Delta Works

    The Great Flood and the Delta Works. In the night of 31 January and 1 February 1953, a massive storm brought devastation to parts of the Netherlands. These floods were caused by a severe north-westerly storm in combination with spring tides. Dykes burst and large parts of Zeeland were inundated by water.

  14. Delta Works

    Delta Works, in the southwestern Netherlands, a giant flood-control project that closed off the Rhine, Meuse [Maas], and Schelde estuaries with dikes linking the islands of Walcheren, Noord-Beveland, Schouwen, Goeree, and Voorne and created what amounts to several freshwater lakes that are free of tides. Devised by the Dutch engineer Johan van Veen, the plan acquired great urgency after a ...

  15. Home

    Annual pass 'All in ticket' from € 40,- per year. Discount to other parcs in the Netherlands and Belgium. Free parking. Look here for more information. Discover the Deltaworks, Visit the biggest theme park of Zeeland. A day on Neeltje Jans enjoying the Zeeland sun, sea, sky, and beautiful coastal nature.

  16. Delta Works

    The Delta Works protects a large area of land around the Rhine-Meuse-Scheldt delta from the sea. Delta Works is a very complicated collection of locks, sluices, channels, bridges, slides, dams, dikes, storm surge barriers and gates working together. The aim of the dams, sluices, and storm surge barriers was to shorten the Dutch coastline, thus ...

  17. The Netherlands: Private Day Trip to the Dutch Delta Works

    16 Nijmegen. 17 Middelburg. 18 's-Hertogenbosch. 19 Alkmaar. 20 Breda. Go on a private day trip to the Delta Works, a large flood protection system known as one of the seven modern wonders of the world. Visit the artificial island of Neeltje Jans and discover how the Dutch keep the ocean at bay.

  18. Delta Works

    The Delta Works (Dutch: Deltawerken) are a series of constructions built between 1950 and 1997 in the southwest of the Netherlands, to protect a large area of land around the Rhine-Meuse-Scheldt delta from the sea. The works consist of dams, sluices, locks, dikes, and storm surge barriers. Along with the Zuiderzee Works, they have been declared one of the Seven Wonders of the Modern World by ...

  19. Dutch Delta Works: from engineering feat to cultural statement

    The quest for an indestructible delta led to a culture of physical experimentation and innovation on the scale of models and at actual scale in the hydrodynamic laboratory. The Netherlands still benefits from this research, as it remains one of the greatest scientific and engineering Dutch export products. Untitled 9b.

  20. The Delta Works, The Oosterscheldekering

    OosterscheldekeringNoord-Beveland, Netherlands51° 37′ 48″ N, 3° 42′ 14″ E1986. The Oosterscheldekering (Eastern Scheldt storm surge barrier) is the largest of the Delta Works dams and sturge barriers. It connects the islands of Schouwen-Duiveland and Noord-Beveland over a distance of almost 9km. This dam was built between 1976 and ...

  21. Deltawerken

    De Deltawerken waren het antwoord van Nederland op de Watersnoodramp. Ze beschermen tegen hoogwater, maar hebben ook gezorgd voor een betere bereikbaarheid van Zeeland en het ontstaan van nieuwe natuurgebieden. Lees meer over de wereldwijd bekende Deltawerken.

  22. Deltawerken

    Philipsdam (met Krammersluizen) Het Watersnoodmuseum maakt onderdeel uit van het Themajaar 2023: 'Zeeland en de kracht van het water'. Klik hier voor meer informatie. Nederland beschermen tegen hoogwater. De deltawerken, dammen, sluizen en stormvloedkeringen gebouwd ter bescherming van Zeeland, Holland en West Brabant.

  23. De Deltaroute, een unieke roadtrip langs de Deltawerken

    Maartje. De Deltawerken in Zeeland, Brabant en Zuid-Holland zijn het indrukwekkende bewijs van de ingenieurstalenten in Nederland. De 13 Deltawerken zijn gebouwd na de watersnoodramp uit 1953, waarbij een groot deel van dit deel van Nederland onderliep. Deze Deltaroute brengt je langs al deze bouwwerken op een toffe roadtrip langs de kust.