Naarden - So much more than an old fortified city

Naarden-Vesting is the best preserved authentic fortress in the Netherlands and the most important fortress in the Old and New Dutch Waterline. In addition, the city and its surroundings are rich in historical icons and stories that deserve to be discovered. Naarden-Vesting is a city in balance where guests are welcome.

The unique green areas of the Naardermeer and the Naarderbos surround the fortress. While the Naardermeer offers much natural beauty, the Naarderbos is a beautiful environment for water sports and games.

Naarden, back in time

Naarden, located on a sand ridge on the shore of the former Zuiderzee, used to be the only access road from the east to the County of Holland and the merchant city of Amsterdam. Due to its strategic military location, Naarden has developed over the centuries into one of our country's most important fortified towns, which has often been fought over. Naarden-Vesting thus fulfilled an essential role in the struggle for freedom of the independent Netherlands.

Naarden has a turbulent history that goes far back in time. For example, during the Eighty Years' War, 'The massacre' of Naarden took place. Many of the inhabitants were killed, and the city was largely destroyed. After French rule, during which Napoleon personally visited Naarden’s fortifications, King Willem I came to power. One of the first things he did was to improve national defence with the construction of the New Dutch Waterline. As part of the Waterline, Naarden retained its function as an important fortified town.

In the 19th century, the fortress was reinforced with mortar casemates and shelters. In 1926 the fortress law was lifted, and Naarden-Vesting lost its function as a defensive structure. During the mobilisation on the eve of the Second World War, the fortress was alerted for the last time. After the bombing of Rotterdam on 14 May 1940, the Netherlands surrendered. In modern warfare, forts and water lines have become obsolete for national defence.

Visit this historic city and learn more about this and other vital events from the past. Climb the church tower, view the forts and bunkers and walk with a city guide over the cobblestones on your way to the story of the past and present.