Friday, August 04, 2006
The Afsluitdijk ('Close-off' dike) is an enormous dike which bridges the two northern provinces of the Netherlands (Friesland and North Holland). The dike is 30 km long and 90m wide, and is even visible from space.
It was completed in in 1932, by Cornelis Lely, and effectively closes the inner sea (Zuiderzee) off from the outer sea (Waddenzee), to form a giagantic lake in the heart of the country (Ijsselmeer). The highway A7 runs across the 'dike' (which is actually a dam).
Work began in 1927, from both ends, with the use of heavy weights and blocks of rock which were piled on top of each other. On both ends there are also water gates which can open and close to allow ships in and out. This was at a time before computers, so really proves how ingenious and industrious the Dutch are in their fight against water.
In the middle of the dike there is a monument dedicated to the thousands of people who worked on the project. On it it reads: "Een volk dat leeft bouwt aan zijn toekomst". (A people that lives builds on its future).