Delta Works Holland

Faelweg 5, 4354 RB Vrouwenpolder


Delta Works protect against the sea

Big floods are regularly breaking news around the globe and have always been a great threat to the Netherlands which are partially below sea level. The Delta Works were built to protect the lower areas in the Netherlands against flooding. The Delta Works are a series of huge structures that protect the Dutch provinces of South-Holland, North-Brabant and Zeeland against high North Sea tides and storms. The Delta Works are a unique piece of civil engineering and attract a lot of international visitors. They have been declared by the U.S. Society of Civil Engineers as one of the seven wonders of the modern world.

The origin of the Delta Works in the Netherlands

In 1953, a major flood put nearly 200,000 hectares (800sqm) of Dutch land under water and killed nearly 2000 people. This disaster triggered the decision to build the Delta Works and to close some estuaries to radically shorten the Dutch coastline to enable a better protection against the sea. The Delta Works consist of nine dams and four barriers which were built between 1958 and 1997 in the Dutch Provinces of Zeeland, South-Holland and North-Brabant. The most impressive Delta Works structures are the Eastern Scheldt Barrier (Oosterscheldekering) and the Maeslant Barrier (Maeslantkering). Most Delta Works dams have motorways on top and these guardian angels can be visited for free.

Eastern Scheldt storm surge barrier

The Eastern Scheldt storm surge barrier (or Oosterscheldekering in Dutch) in  the Dutch Province of Zeeland is the largest structure of the Delta Works with a length of nine kilometers (nearly 6 miles). The Eastern Scheldt barrier is a unique piece of hydraulic engineering, as a highly complex dam was built to protect the Netherlands against high tide and storms. This barrier contains huge 45 meter wide lock gates, which are nearly always open in order to keep the water behind the Eastern Scheldt dam salty and commercial fishing can continue. At spring tide in combination with stormy weather, these huge barrier doors are closed to protect the below sea level Netherlands against the North Sea. The motorway N57 runs actually over the Eastern Scheldt dam and you can see the impressive hydraulic gates from inside and outside the barrier. Crossing the barrier by car is free, but tickets for the gates are available at Delta park Neeltje Jans. 

Exhibition Centre Delta Park Neeltje Jans

Neeltje Jans is the name of an artificial island that was reclaimed during the construction of the Delta Works as a logistic aid to build the Eastern Scheldt barrier. Nowadays the water theme park called Delta Park Neeltje Jans is located on this island. Neeltje Jans offers several family attractions like a seal show, a hurricane simulator, a 3-D movie, a swinging ship, a water playground and a quick water slide. You can also take a boat tour to see the natural world of the Eastern Scheldt and if you're lucky you might spot some seals or porpoises during your trip! At the Delta Expo exhibition centre you can watch a film about the history and construction of the Delta Works. At Neeltje Jans, a huge salt water aquarium shows colourful sea anemones, shrimps, lobsters and rays which have its habitat within the Eastern Scheldt estuary.

Maeslant Storm barrier Rotterdam

Another masterpiece of the Delta Works is the Maeslant barrier near Hoek van Holland. This barrier is easily accessible from Rotterdam and well worth a visit. The Maeslant barrier is one of a kind, as it consists of two huge moving arms, which can close the waterway to Rotterdam in case of extremely high tides. This part of the Delta Works construction is also very complex, as the port of Rotterdam must remain accessible for huge vessels at all times, while in case of an emergency the barrier protects the city of Rotterdam against high water. The Maeslant Storm barrier also offers a visitor centre and you can you book a guided tour.

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