Battle against the tide
On 1 February 1953, an enormous flood broke the banks of the dikes throughout Zeeland. The freezing cold waters killed hundreds of people and animals, and left the nation in shock. The magnitude of the disaster led the Netherlands to construct new coastal defences and raise the level of the regions´ dikes. These new defences are known as the Delta Works.
The North Sea floods museum
Four caissons that were used to fill the holes in the dikes now house the impressive North Sea floods museum, the Watersnoodmuseum. Eye-witness reports and all kinds of objects from the early 1950s are used to reflect what life would have been like just before, during and after the floods.
The Eastern Scheldt storm surge barrier
The Eastern Scheldt storm surge barrier (Oosterscheldekering) is three kilometres long and consists of 65 gigantic concrete pillars, with steel doors in between, which only close when the water levels are extremely high and/or when there are extremely strong winds. The surge barrier was originally intended as a closed dam, but forward-thinking environmental insight made the directors realise that they would be destroying a unique natural environment should they do so.
MNeeltje Jans is an artificial island right in the middle of the dam complex of the Eastern Scheldt storm surge barrier (Oosterscheldekering). It was here, that the construction of the first surge barrier started. This has since been turned into a beautiful nature area with a beach, dunes and a magnificent view of the barrier where you can go kitesurfing, climbing and to Deltapark Neeltje Jans theme park.
The theme park is home to an exposition about the construction of the Delta Works and you can go inside one of the pillars from the Eastern Scheldt storm surge barrier. There is also a seal show for the kids and plenty of water for them to play with.
One of the pillars that were meant for The Eastern Scheldt storm surge barrier was never actually installed and is now used as a climbing wall. It rises out of the sea right next to the island and is a challenging climb. If you are not an experienced climber, there is no need to panic as there are also climbing clinics for beginners. More information on this climbing tower
Saltwater to freshwater to saltwater
When the estuaries in Zeeland were closed off from the sea, the water slowly turned brackish, becoming murkier and more sensitive to algae plagues. Over recent years, numerous channels have been dug to allow water to flow into the estuaries from other areas such as the Veerse Meer Lake and Grevelingen Lake for example. The results have made the water salty and clean again.