Naarden, 20 km east of Amsterdam, is one of the best preserved fortified towns in Europe and famous for its unique star shape. The fortress has six bastions, double ramparts and moats.
The history of Naarden goes back to the 10th Century. In that time the town was not situated on its current location but 2,5 km up to the northeast. This former town was destroyed in the 14th Century during battles about the succession of the former County of Holland. It was rebuild in 1350 on its current position on a high sand ridge that formed the only access to Amsterdam out of the east.
Because of this strategic position, Naarden developed into one of the most important fortified towns in The Netherlands in the upcoming centuries. A fortified town differed from medieval cities with walls and solitaire forts; fortified towns combined the civil and military function and were situated on important strategic positions. For Naarden this function was the defence of Amsterdam, the country’s capital and economic centre. Fortified towns were typical for the early modern times. Later when states took over the role of cities, fortified towns played an important role in the national defence.
The current star shape of Naarden dates back to the 17th Century, when the fortifications were reinforced after the siege of 1673. Naarden kept her role as military fortification and part of the New Dutch Waterline until World War II. The beautiful fortifications and the many military buildings, such as the Arsenal from 1672, are the silent witnesses of that glorious period.
A visit to the Dutch Fortress Museum and the Fortified Town of Naarden form an ideal combination for a nice daytrip. Besides history and culture Naarden offers a great variety of shops, restaurants and recreational opportunities such as hiking, cycling or a boat trip to enjoy the beautiful surroundings!