Sightseeing trip from Hilversum
On Sunday, 14 July 2019, Willem and René made a little Sunday afternoon sight-seeing flight from Hilversum. The trip was going around 't Gooi to see Bussum, Muiden, the river Vecht area, and some of the fortresses of the Dutch Waterline. Then to the south to the River Lek, from there to the east to the beginning of the Utrechtse Heuvelrug (Utrecht Hill Ridge), and then back to Hilversum along the Utrechtse Heuvelrug.
After take-off from runway 36, we first followed the circuit to exit the pattern south of the field to the west, the Loosdrechtse Plassen. Over the Loosdrechtse Plassen we turned to Bussum, and then to Naarden.
Willem at Hilversum airfield
The Naarden-Fortification (Naarden-Vesting) obtained city rights in 1351 and is thereby the only city in 't Gooi. Because of the strategic location, Naarden became a militarily fortified place and part of the defense line "Hollandse Waterlinie", the Dutch Waterline. In the 17th century the city acquired its typical style, well preserved until present day, of the star form with double walls, gatehouses and bastions.
After Naarden, we flew to Muiden, where we had a good view on the mouth of the river Vecht, the 19th century Dutch Waterline Fortress Muizenfort, the West Battery Muiden and the Castle Muiderslot.
Due to its strategic location, Muiden became part of the New Dutch Waterline and the Defense Line of Amsterdam. These lines of defense were set up to prevent enemies in the East from reaching the riches of Amsterdam.
Much like in other fortified towns, here you find a lot of walls and moats. Muiden even has a fort and battery that once served to protect the town. The locks of Muiden are also famous. From a military perspective, all of the ingredients needed for inundation (flooding certain areas with water) were there in ample supply: the Zuiderzee, the River Vecht, several large lakes and the locks.
In 1672 Holland remained behind the waterline and was able to stop the French troops by means of inundating the surrounding area; the beginning of the Old Dutch Waterline. Since 1816 Muiden is part of the New Dutch Waterline and this fortified town was since 1892 also a part of the Defense Line of Amsterdam.
In 1926, while the western side of the fortress was discontinued, the eastern side continued on as the Wall of Muiden. Still today you can see many elements that are remnants of the history of this fortress and town at the water's edge.
After Muiden we continued to the south to see some other works of the Defense Line of Amsterdam. Veleda and René had visited some of the works in February.
The Defence Line of Amsterdam (Stelling van Amsterdam) is a 135 km ring of fortifications around Amsterdam (map). It has 42 forts that are 10-15 km from the centre and lowlands, which can be flooded in time of war. The flooding was designed to give a depth of about 30 cm, too little for boats to cross. Any buildings within 1 km of the line had to be made of wood so that they could be burnt and the obstruction removed.
The Stelling van Amsterdam was constructed between 1880 and 1920. The invention of the aeroplane and tank made the forts obsolete almost as soon as they were finished.
Batteries along the Gein
Nederhorst den Berg owes its name in part to castle Nederhorst. In 1672 it was set on fire by French troops. It was then rebuilt as a square castle with a hexagonal tower on every corner and was given its current appearance in the early 18th century.
At the beginning of 1960 Jan Jonker bought Nederhorst Castle. It was completely restored and housed Jonker's unique timepiece collection. In 1966, more than half of the castle was rented to Toonder Studios.
In a fire in January 1971, the entire Jonker timepiece collection was lost. After restoration, the castle could be opened again in 1973. Toonder Studios remained active in Nederhorst Castle until well into the 1990s.
After Nederhorst den Berg we flew south along the River Vecht to Breukelen, then east of Castle De Haar and Harmelen to the River Lek, south-west of IJsselstein. From there we followed the Lek River to the east, passing Vianen south of the Lek River.
(More about Vianen in this trip report from April)
Castle de Nederhorst
In between Vianen and Culemborg along the River Lek we passed the New Dutch Waterline Fortresses Fort Honswijk and Fort Everdingen. We also saw the weirs in the River Lek at Hagestein and Amerongen.
Fort Honswijk and Fort Everdingen
On both sides of the River Lek there are two big fortresses: Fort Everdingen on the south bank, and Fort Honswijk on the north bank. The fortresses were built in the 19th century as part of the New Dutch Waterline. The defense works were to close off the entrance to Holland over water against an enemy coming from the east.
More information about the Dutch New Waterline and Fort Honswijk here
We continued along the River Lek and south of the Utrechtse Heuvelrug (Utrecht Hill Ridge). The Utrechtse Heuvelrug is a remnant of the before last ice age, that ended about 130,000 years ago.
We passed Rhenen, followed by the conservative orthodox Calvinist Reformed Protestant town of Opheusden, and then to Dodewaard where we turned to the north-west, crossing the River Neder-Rijn near Wageningen.
Cunera church of Rhenen
The Medieval Rhenen church tower is a rather tall church tower for such a small city. In the province of Utrecht only the Dom Tower in Utrecht and The Tower of Our Lady in Amersfoort are taller. The construction of the Rhenen church tower was made possible by granting indulgences in 1475.
Moving further to the north-west along the Utrechtse Heuvelrug we passed the Pyramid of Austerlitz, a 36-metre-high pyramid of earth, built in 1804 by Napoleon's soldiers on one of the highest points of the Utrecht hill ridge. The French General Marmont had his soldiers build an earth and turf monument inspired by the Great Pyramid of Giza, which Marmont had seen in 1798 during Napoleon’s Egyptian campaign. Even the erosion-exposed stepped surface was imitated. It was named "Mont Marmont" or "Marmontberg".
In the summer of 1805, Marmont departed with his army to southern Germany to fight in the War of the Third Coalition, which culminated in the Battle of Austerlitz, the battle in which Napoleon decisively defeated the Russians and Austrians. Louis Bonaparte, the new king of Holland, renamed the hill the Pyramid of Austerlitz. In view of its 200th anniversary in 2004, the highly dilapidated pyramid was restored between 2001 and 2004.
We continued along the Utrecht hill ridge to Hilversum, where we landed on runway 36.
Pyramid of Austerlitz
René at Hilversum airfield