A tourist bus stops in front of the bridge. A group of Danes or German step out of the bus and follow their guide to the other side. Two elderly ladies eat an ice-cream while crossing the bridge. It looks so easy, but still there is no way you can get me to cross that bridge.

The longest Dutch dike

I’m standing in the middle of the Afsluitdijk, the 32 kilometer long dike that functions as bridge as well as frontier. It connects the Dutch provinces North Holland and Frisia (Friesland) and at the same time separates the North Sea from the IJsselmeer.   Quite a remarkable construction, if you think about it. The IJsselmeer once was sea, the Zuiderzee. It was a great area to catch saltwater fish. But  many floodings occured in the Zuiderzee region as well. Something had to be done. Sooner or later.

Lely Engineer water technology Afsluitdijk Netherlands-veritasvisit

 

The Afsluitdijk and a metrostation in Amsterdam

If you take the metro between Schiphol and Amsterdam Central you pass a station called Amsterdam Lelylaan. I’ve passed it so many times, I had to really think out loud where I had heard the name before when I stood in front of the statue of Cornelis Lely in the middle of the Afsluitdijk. Turns out he is the guy who came up with the Afsluitdijk. He was an engineer and had tried to get his plans to dam the Zuiderzee through in the Dutch parliament since 1913. In that year he became minister of Public Works. For years he promoted his project, but only in 1918 the government saw the need of the Afsluitdijk. In 1920 a start was made on the construction of the Afsluitdijk. The job was though and the project took years to finish. In 1932 the last stone was put in place.

Working on Afsluitdijk 1932 monument-veritasvisit

Last Stone of the frisian- north holland dike

In the middle of the Afsluitdijk is a stop where you can see the IJsselmeer as well as the North Sea. At the North Sea side is a statue of a stoneworker. On the opposite side is a watchtower that serves as a monument for the last stone that was put in place here.  I find it amazing how so many people can cross this bridge with this wind – there’s always a strong wind up on a Dutch dike- , with cars passing  below at 130 km/hour.  Lely has turned his back on the sea, his statue focusses on the IJsselmeer and on the land which is protected by the Afsluitdijk. I turn my back to the bridge and walk back to the car.

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