Fort Vijfhuizen – I consider this my very first Dutch UNESCO World Heritage site that I visited in the Netherlands. Even though Fort Vijfhuizen is only one of forty-six forts and batteries in the Defense Line of Amsterdam (Dutch: Stelling van Amsterdam) …
In case you don’t know …
Defense Line of Amsterdam is a 135km / 84-mile long circular defense fortification around Amsterdam, consisting of forts every 15-20km connected with an intricate system of dikes, sluices, canals and polders. Primarily, it was a defensive water line (Dutch: waterlinie) ready to be inundated in the event of an enemy attack. A clever system where the land surrounding the line could be put under water; not deep enough for ships but too deep for man and horse. It was constructed by the Ministry of War mostly between 1881 and 1914 as the last line of defense, of the Kingdom of the Netherlands. However, with the advance techniques of artillery, infantry and invention of the airplane, nuclear weapons and so on, the forts became obsolete almost as soon as they were finished. Efforts were made to maintain everything in service until it was decommissioned in 1963. The Defense Line of Amsterdam was inscribed to the UNESCO World Heritage List in 1996.
Fort Vijfhuizen located in the town of Vijfhuizen, was one of the first concrete forts built for the Defense Line completed in 1899 and has the only remaining iron military shed from 1896. A fortress surrounded by a double moat, intended to defend the Ringvaart (translation: Ring Canal) and the dike of the Haarlemmermeer Polder.
The repurposed fort is now a special venue known as Kunstfort (translation: Art Fort) providing small artist/retail studios, meeting room facilities, an indoor exhibition hall, outdoor exhibits and a restaurant on site.
The Kunstfort often presents local and international indoor exhibitions throughout the year. The artistic program is rather alternative. Entrance fees do apply.
Take a nature walk around the 19th-century polder landscapes and you will come across a short Stelling van Amsterdam free exhibition (in Dutch only), remains of a retractable gun turret, multiple outdoor artworks such as 400-meter long path made of old gravestones and an architectural concept called BLOB and the monumental metal artillery storage shed Genieloods stationed across the fort.
Fort Vijfhuizen is a place where visual arts and military heritage come together. Definitely interesting!
Should you want to visit? Please note that Fort Vijfhuizen has limited opening days and hours. In fact, Kunstfort is closed during the month of January and February for a winter break. However, the restaurant ‘t Fort is open, except on Mondays. Do check the website for specifics.
Kunstfort – https://www.kunstfort.nl
Opening Hours: Tuesday, Wednesday, Friday, Saturday & Sunday from 1pm to 5pm.
Entrance Fees (applicable for indoor exhibition and Genieloods): €4.00 for adults, €2.00 for kids age 12-18 years old and free for kids under 12 years old. Free entry for Museumkaart holders.
Restaurant ‘t Fort – https://www.fortrestaurant.nl
Opening Hours: Tuesday to Sunday from 11am to 5pm.
Address: Fortwachter 1. 2141EE VIJFHUIZEN.