Afsluitdijk

Afsluitdijk

The Afsluitdijk (Closure Dam) is a 32-kilometer-long dam. It was completed on 28th May 1932. It meant the end of the treacherous North Sea inlet known as Zuiderzee and the birth of lake IJsselmeer.

Plans to cut off the Zuiderzee from the North Sea had been circulating since the late Middle Ages. The sea could be very stormy and wreak havoc with villages on its shores. At the same time, it was the only conceivable source of livelihood for the many fishermen living in those villages. In 1885 a private initiative drew up new plans and sought the financial support of entrepreneurs and provinces around the Zuiderzee. As Minister of Water Affairs, Cornelis Lely put his bill before Parliament several times, but his plans were rejected. Alas, it took the catastrophic flood of 1916 for politicians to pass and approve the bill. Another factor that helped change minds: the severe food shortages after the First World War. More farmland was needed to feed hungry mouths. The idea was to reclaim land in the new lake to use for agriculture. The creation of five polders in the lake was step two of the Zuiderzee Works (one of them was never realised). In 1918 work was started to close off the Zuiderzee from the North Sea. Today, the Closure Dam is more than a protective barrier; it is also a road on which you can drive or ride your bike, enjoying great views.