History has it that Emperor Napoleon ordered the construction of Fort Kijkduin when he was visiting Huisduinen. The fort was built by artisans from North Holland and Spanish prisoners of war. All these fascinating bits of history of the fort are available from the knowledgeable guides at the fort. In the dark passages of the fort, you will learn how the fort was home to seven hundred soldiers.
The fort was an important part of Den Helder and is strategically built on a dune with a view of the ships coming into and going out of Den Helder.
Restored and opened by Prince Willem Alexander the fort is classified as a cultural heritage in the Netherlands.
The History Of The Fort
It was built in 1811. The fort was taken over by the Germans in 1940 and they further fortified it by adding a layer of concrete. They used it as a training base for naval personnel and as an observation post. The efficiency of the Torpedo and other equipment of war were tested at the fort.
The fort was never bombed even though the surrounding town of Den Helder was bombed more than a hundred times.
The history of the fort is captured in the vaults of the museum from the Napoleon era through the First World War to the Second World War.
The first vault describes the origins of kijkduin, when the British and Russian soldiers landed there in 1799. The other vaults are the criminal division and the powder room where thousands of kilograms of gunpowder were stored and finally there is the armoury with guns stored in glass casings.
In the large iron dome built in 1879 is the breath taking view of the North Sea, the dunes and here is where you will understand why the fort was used for observation as the view stretches for miles and is like no other.
The last vault of the fort is a 60 metre shooting gallery. It is wise to use a guide otherwise you may miss out on many of the important facts concerning the fort.
The North Sea Aquarium
It consists of fourteen aquariums each with a theme of its own.The aquarium glass tunnel is fifteen feet and you feel as if you are walking in the midst of the deep sea with a variety of fishes, sharks and other sea animals.
In what was formerly the drinking water cellar of the fort isan exhibition of skeletal mammals, including the skeleton of the famous sperm whale Chris, who was washed up on the beach in 1997 but later died.
The museum and aquarium are open every day from 10am to 6pm except during the winter when they open at 11 am. On Christmas day and Boxing Day the fort is closed.
At the station, catch bus number 34 which will take you straight to the fort. Please note that the bus runs once every hour. The bus station is located next to the train station.
For the fit, you can walk to the fort by walking north to the dike and then following it to the west and then the South and you will see the fort.