Zurich Travel Guide

  • The village
    The village
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  • View from Zurich
    View from Zurich
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  • The Dijk
    The Dijk
    by Airpunk

Zurich Things to Do

  • Airpunk's Profile Photo

    by Airpunk Written May 5, 2011

    Although not well-known outside the Netherlands, he is surely one of the most important men in the younger Dutch history. Cornelis Lely is the mastermind behind the Zuiderzeewerke, the extensive program of land-reclaiming and dam-construction which took place from 1891 to 1975 in the Netherlands. The city of Lelystad, capital of the Dutch province of Flevoland, was named in his honour.
    Lelys statue was designed in 1953 by Mari Andriessen and stood for a long time on the western end of the dijk in Den Oever. Looking towards the beginning of his work, the Wieringermeerpolder, and having Flevoland right behind him. Years after Lely found hinself on a traffic island, he was removed to be replaced on a new spot: Close to the place where the Afsluitdijk was closed in 1932. For the 75th anniversary of this date, the statue was unveiled on this new spot. In the meanwhile, a replica was casted which now stands on the Zuil van Lely in Lelystad.

    Cornelis Lely
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  • Airpunk's Profile Photo

    by Airpunk Written May 5, 2011

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    The tower with viewing platform was the first monument to be placed on the Aflstuitdijk. Beside the tower itself, it has also a relief showing three workers as well as a stone with the inscription “Here the dyke was closed” (Hier werd de dijk gesloten – 25 Mei 1932). The viewing platform can be used for free. Although the view itself can be described quickly (water to two sides, dyke to the others), it's still nice to enjoy.
    The tower also has a café/restaurant. As it is the only place within a couple of kilometers, it is really overpriced. Even if you want to use the toilet, they charge you 50 cent.
    In 1982, for the 50th anniversary of the Afsluitdijk, a new “steenzetter” (stone layer) monument was placed.

    The tower Steenzetter from 1982
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  • Airpunk's Profile Photo

    by Airpunk Updated May 5, 2011

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    You have found this tip. Congratulations! The Aflsuitdijk is a Dutch monument which is hard to classify. It connects two provinces, Noord-Holland and Fryslan, and doesn’t really belong to any town. I decided to put in on my Zurich page, as I visited this tiny spot only because it marks the eastern end of the Afsluitdijk. You may find other Afsluitdijk tips on other travellers’ pages such as Amsterdam or the pages of one of the provinces.

    The Afsluitdijk (Dutch for closing dyke) was part of a large program to defend the Dutch coasts from future inundations by controlling the surrounding waters. This program called Zuiderzeewerken, was planned by the engineer Cornelius Lely and took place in a timespan of over 80 years. Its first publication in 1891 was followed by endless parlamentary discussions. Therefore, it wasn’t after two floods in 1916 and 1918 that the green light was given for the Zuiderzeewerken. One of the first steps was the planning of the first polder (a mass of land won from the seas) at Wieringermeer. This also included a small dyke connecting the island of Wieringen to the land. This one is sometimes named “Kleine Afsluitdijk” (little Afsluitdijk). After this strengthening of land at the western end, the most interesting part of the project, the Afsluitdijk was begun to be built in 1927. On May 28th 1932 at 01:02 pm, the Afsluitdijk was closed. It didn’t only protect those places around the Zuiderzee from further erosion and inundations. But it transformed the salt-water Zuiderzee into the freshwater Ijsselmeer. As a consequence, the ecosystem changed a lot. Many salt-water species were extinguished in this region while freshwater species moved in. Interestingly, many species also adapted to the new water conditions. This ecological change meant also the collapse of the fishing industries around the Ijsselmeer and destroyed the income source of mainly small fisheries.

    Today, the Ijsselmeer is connected to the North Sea via two large lock systems, a third one will we built to cope with the rising traffic in the near future. The road on the Afsluitdijk, currently the A7 motorway, was officially opened on September 25th 1933 as the linking roads were not finished before. There are three monuments on the spot where the dyke was closed, they are described in my things to do tips.

    The Dijk
    Related to:
    • Historical Travel
    • Architecture

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