UNESCO has announced that they’ve named the Dutch Water Defence Lines a World Heritage Site. Also referred to as the Dutch Water Lines, it’s a comprehensive network of dikes, sluices, waterworks and fortresses developed in the 17th Century as a clever solution to dealing with foreign invaders. Essentially, the Dutch created the infrastructure to flood the surrounding areas on demand, making it difficult for enemy troops to reach their targets.
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The flooding was executed with Dutch precision: The water level was kept high enough to slow a marching army, but low enough to beach enemy boats. (The Dutch themselves had flat-bottomed barges that could still navigate the flooded lands.)
The Dutch used the system to successfully stop Louis XIV’s army during the Franco-Dutch War of 1672. It was activated again—but not attacked—during both the Franco-Prussian War in 1870 and World War I. During World War II, the final time it was activated, modern military technology rendered it obsolete; German paratroopers were dropped in behind it.
The 85-kilometer-long system, which varies in width from 3 to 5 kilometers, has its own website.