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 the American Society of Civil Engineers.



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

Overview of the Delta Works

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

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 2,5h one way, from Rotterdam.

Get around

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.




Eat, drink, sleep

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 you're best of in one of the towns. At the Haringvlietdam and in Deltapark Neeltje Jans there are however restaurants that serve lunch.

Go next

It's logical to use Rotterdam or Antwerp as a base and spending the night there. If you want to see more of the region, you can visit the towns Middelburg, Zierikzee Veere,and Vlissingen on Walcheren.

This article is issued from Wikivoyage - version of the Monday, April 20, 2015. The text is available under the Creative Commons Attribution/Share Alike but additional terms may apply for the media files.