Beemster Polder

Posted: October 15, 2009    Categories: Daily Photo, World Heritage Sites

World Heritage Site #87: Beemster Polder

Beemster Polder: My 87th UNESCO World Heritage Site

From the World Heritage inscription for the Beemster Polder:

The Beemster Polder is a cultural landscape located north of Amsterdam, dating from the early 17th century, and an exceptional example of reclaimed land in the Netherlands. It was created by the draining of Lake Beemster in 1612, in order to develop new agricultural land and space for country residences and to combat flooding in this low-lying region. It also provided a means for capital investment in land. Other earlier land reclamation had taken place, but technical improvements in windmill technology permitted more ambitious undertakings. The Beemster Polder was the first large project covering an area of 7,208 hectares. Today it is a well-ordered agricultural landscape of fields, roads, canals, dikes and settlements.

The polder was laid out in a rational geometric pattern, developed in accordance with the principles of classical and Renaissance planning. This mathematical land division was based on a system of squares forming a rectangle with the ideal dimensional ratio of 2:3. A series of oblong lots, measuring 180 meters by 900 meters, form the basic dimensions of the allotments. Five of these lots make up a unit, a module of 900 meters by 900 meters, and four units create a larger square. The pattern of roads and watercourses runs north to south and east to west, with buildings along the roads. The short sides of the lots are connected by drainage canals and access roads. The polder itself followed the outline of the lake, and the direction of the squares corresponds as much as possible with the former shoreline, so as to avoid creating unusable lots.

Besides the grid pattern of roads, watercourses, and plots of land, the polder is made up of a ring dike, a ring canal (the Beemsterringvaart), and relatively high roads with avenues of trees. Several villages were planned for the polder and today these are Middenbeemster, Noordbeemster, Westbeemster, and Zuidoostbeemster. Protected monuments include religious, residential and farm buildings from the 17th to 19th centuries, industrial buildings (a mill, a smithy, water authority buildings and bridges) as well as the five forts constructed between 1880 and 1920, which formed part of the Defence Line of Amsterdam (also a World Heritage property).

Visit the Beemster Polder was like visiting Wisconsin….except flatter. The area is mostly dairy farms and it is typical of the polders (reclaimed land) which makes up much of the Netherlands. It totally explains Wisconsin is a dairy state.


View the complete list of UNESCO World Heritage Sites in The Netherlands.

View the list of all of the UNESCO World Heritage sites I have visited on my travels.

Last updated: Mar 12, 2017 @ 2:29 pm

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