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Fort Spijkerboor

The Fort bij Spijkerboor (Fort near Spijkerboor) is a fort that is part of the Stelling van Amsterdam (Defense line of Amsterdam). It was built between 1889 and 1911 for the defense of the North Front.

Three waterways come together near the fort; the Noordhollandsch Kanaal and the ring canals around the polders of the Beemster and the Starnmeerpolder. The fort has two floors due to the height of the dyke to be defended.

Location Fort Spijkerboor
Area Fort Spijkerboor

Fort Spijkerboor was at the time one of the most modern and heavily armed forts of the Stelling van Amsterdam, equipped with an armored dome with a double-barreled cannon.

Defense line of Amsterdam

The Defense Line of Amsterdam (Stelling van Amsterdam) is a 135 km ring of fortifications around Amsterdam. It has 42 forts that are 10-15 km from the centre and lowlands, which could easily 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.

Stelling van Amsterdam
Stelling van Amsterdam

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. Many of the forts now are under the control of both the town councils and the nature department. They may be visited by the public, and admission is free on Monuments Day, the second Saturday in September.

The Stelling van Amsterdam was primarily a defensive water line. In the event of an enemy attack, large tracts of land around Amsterdam would be inundated with water, preventing the enemy from advancing. Amsterdam would function as a national redoubt or reduit, as the last stronghold of the Netherlands. Forts were built in which roads, railways or dikes crossed through the water line. At such locations, there would be no water to stop the enemy and so the forts were intended to shell the enemy.

The Stelling van Amsterdam has never seen combat service and the use of aircraft rendered it obsolete after World War I. It was, however, maintained and kept in service until it was decommissioned in 1963.

(Detailed map of the Defense line of Amsterdam)

Fort Spijkerboor was mobilized during the First World War. At that time, 300 soldiers were stationed at the fort.

Various paintings are visible inside the fort. Most were made in the time that it served as a prison, shortly after the Second World War.

After the war, the fort served as a prison for, among others, National Socialist party members, but from 1947 onwards mainly for men who refused to fight for the Dutch occupation of the Dutch East Indies (Indonesia). On 18 June 1951, the last prisoner left the fort.

Veleda at Fort Spijkerboor
Veleda at Fort Spijkerboor
Spijkerboor aerial
Spijkerboor aerial

Sights of Fort bij Spijkerboor (1)
Sights of Fort bij Spijkerboor (2)
Sights of Fort bij Spijkerboor

Short history of "Fort bij Spijkerboor"
1874Dutch act on defence by the use of fortesses
1887Start excavation and sand dumping
1889Construction of locks, roads and fort houses
1900Watermanagement of moat completed
1908First pile driven
1910Construction of the fort building
1911Installation of the guns
1913Delivery of the fort
WW I 1914-19181914Mobilization; fort in full use
1915Electricity in the fort
1916Foundation dramatic club and sporting club.
Assistance to locals during flood
1917Conversion into prison; installation of bars
1925Closed and empty, all weapons in storage
1939Internment camp foreign prisoners
WW II 1940-19451940Refugee camp
1941Prison of war by the German Wehrmacht:
Brick up of entrances, construction of prisoners dormitories
1943Safety inspection, demounting of the armoured turrets
1944Partial inundation Beemsterpolder
1945Prison for political delinquents (NSB)
1947Prison for conscientious objectors (during Indonesia crisis)
1951Radio-control station Dutch Royal Air Force
1952Radarstation British RAF, transmitting-beacon SPY Schiphol
1961Closing down stations of British and Dutch Royal Air Force
1975Conveyance to the Authority of Domains
1976Several rooms are rented out to third parties. First guided tours
1989Acquisition by State Forestry Service (Staatsbosbeheer)
1990Transmitting-beacon SPY Schiphol outplaced to near vicinity
1991Management acquired by "Natuurmonumenten"
Renewal of the electric installation
1996Replacement cooker set-up in the kitchen.
Recognition as UNESCO world heritage (part of the defence line of van Amsterdam)
1997Restoration of the gun-turret completed
2004Delivery of the complete restauration; official re-opening as cultural monument.
Fort bij Spijkerboor
Self-guided tour in Fort bij Spijkerboor
Fort bij Spijkerboor
Self-guided tour in Fort bij Spijkerboor

Welcome to the "Fort bij Spijkerboor". This brochure leads you through the historical facts of this enormous building. Light, pictures and sound will take you back into history. Experience both culture and nature.

For your own safety, please follow the marked route. Enjoy your visit!

Spijkerboor map
1.The tour through "Fort bij Spijkerboor" starts in the reception area, which is the former surgery and hospital of the main building. Transmitters for Schiphol Airport and the Air force were located here in the 1950's.
2.Turn right into the corridor to visit the Telegrapher's room. Behind the closed door was the residence of the commanding officer.
3.The next room is nowadays used for video presentations.
4.In the former guard's room, an impression is given on building of the fort. You will find means of transport for the materials as well as drawings, articles, photographs and contracts related to the construction.
5.In the officers room there is a scale model, which also shows the inundations' around "Fort bij Spijkerboor". The paintings on the wall are made by former prisoners, mainly after World War II. There is a reservoir beneath the floor which contains 30.000 liter rainwater.
6.The last room in the corridor has been rebuilt into a hall with staircase. These used to be two rooms for the manpower. This emergency exit is part of the 2004 restoration. Machine-gun hatches have been reopened. As you can see, outer doors and windows all have gun barrel holes.
7.Go upstairs. The metal balusters (bars!) are a symbol for the use of the fort as a prison. The first floor has been left behind as a prison block. Entering the corridor, you will find a ladder to a heavy armored dome that is an observation post. Turn left into the corridor and mind your head at the water tank that provided tap water at all big alcoves that you see along the corridor. You may see the small black alcoves are as well, these contained paraffin lamps.
8.At your left you see the abandoned prison cells, originally dormitories for the manpower. During the prison period the steel outer doors have been removed and put into new walls inside the building as cell doors. All windows were barred. The typical inside passages are closed by brick walls. A toilet was created in the cabinet at the corner.
9.Follow the corridor along the second staircase to a small tapered room with a door and a hatch. This used to be the ammunition store. During the imprisonment, interrogations took place in this room.
10.Continue your way through the corridor. Behind the next small staircase, the cold food storage can be seen. Next to the stairs the roll call took place.
11.Almost at the end of this long corridor you will find a room with washbowls. Two water tanks with potable water were located at the ceiling. The height of the tanks made the water automatically flow to all taps throughout the fort.
12.The last room at the corridor shows the lavatories. The installed siphons were very modern in 1913. The closed toilet was reserved for officers and guards.
13.A second observation post is overhead at the very end of the corridor.
14.On the way back, enter the first room. There is an exhibition of objects; among these a collection of utensils that were found in the waste pits of the fort. The windows have steel hatches with gun barrel holes; on ground level there are special ventilation gaps with hatches to manage air pressure during blasts.
15.In the next room, there is a display of historic clothing, furniture and appliances. A funnel connection at the ceiling fits a small stove.
16.All small passages here have been newly reopened. Following room, in the corner, one of many rainwater drains connected with storage tanks underneath is visible. A sand filter is incorporated. Left to the passage, the water purification process is explained (installation see nr. 31).
17.Where the corridor makes a bend, you enter the casemate of the gorge. It used to be a semicircle. Cannons were attached to the concrete foundations, with a machine gun in the middle. In the later prison time, a brick wall was placed in the middle to create two isolation cells.
18.The small room near the stairs was the officer's commando center. From here they had a good view over the men inside and outside the fort. At present, there is an exhibition to remember major P. Schalk, commander from 1945 to 1947. By then, the fort was a political delinquents prison.
19.Going downstairs, you enter the large poterne-gate. The roll call was held here during bad weather. The poterne-gate has also been used as theatre and sports hall. Fragile wall paintings from the late 40's make this fort unique within the "Stelling van Amsterdam". Most paintings show popular patriotic themes. Beneath the floor there is a water tank to collect 60.000 liter of rainwater.
20.After the original storm doors had been removed and a brick wall had been placed, a small chapel with wall paintings was created at the right-hand side of the poterne-gate. The original situation can be seen at the left-hand side, with doors that open to the yard.
21.In the water room, a presentation about inundations around the "Stelling van Amsterdam" is at display. The soldiers, who should have served the tower gun, once had their waiting room over here.
22.At the former ammunition depot on the opposite side, where the shells were stored on wooden shelves, an exhibition about the defense line of Amsterdam and all means of armament and defense is made at the walls.
23.Underneath the gun tower you will find a gunpowder smoke fan, which provides fresh air to the artillery above. On safety precautions the gun tower can only be visited with a guide.
24.At the end of the corridor a staircase will lead to the machinegun formation. The stairs on the left give entrance to a small path along the grass which will end at the stairway to climb the roof. The area around the turret may not be entered.
25.From here you see the barrels of the powerful cannon and catch a nice view over its field of fire. The steel strategic plateau gives an impression of which areas would flood during inundation. Also the location of "Fort bij Spijkerboor" in the Beemster is reflected, among its neighboring forts: Marken-binnen to the east and those at the Jisperweg and the Middenweg to the west.
26.Continue the tour going downstairs at the opposite side and walk to the armored retractable turret building. With explosive force, the turrets were removed in World War II as their metals were needed in the war industry. The damaged concrete shell is kept together bij metal bars.
27.Via the stairs and the long armored turret corridor you will arrive at the showers and examination room. It has been left this way since the latest prison period. There used to be sinks and lavatories like those on the first floor. The officers' toilet was at the end of the corridor.
28.Follow the corridor to visit the officers' canteen, with built-in cupboards and nice decorations. The steel outer doors have been put back and serve now as an emergency exit.
29.Continue through the room for the kitchen staff. Beneath the floor is another rainwater tank of 30.000 liter. During the prison periods, the common storehouse and dispensary were located here.
30.In the kitchen, the original high pressure kettles have been taken away in World War II. What you see here is a quite similar set-up from another fort. In the window above the coal supply, the bricks that close the former entrance can be seen.
31.Turn right into the corridor, you will pass along the de-ironing installation. The stored rainwater is made potable here.
32.A window shows the diesel-powered generator, installed in the 50's to feed a radar installation and a radio-transmitter. Water pumps to transport the rain and drinking water were also located here.
33.In the small poterne-gate you'll find history tables on the wall. The small corridor leads you to the reception and information desk, as well as the exit.
Has your interest been raised and would you like to experience more?
  • Walk the tour around the outside fort (20 minutes)
  • Register for a tour conducted by one of our guides
  • Visit for interesting links
Do you have any further questions or suggestions?
Our volunteers are interested and are there for you!

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