Dordrecht is the oldest city in Holland, and it has been a major trade port for hundreds of years. The Port of Dordrecht is currently the sixth largest seaport in the Netherlands. Every year, over 3 million tonnes of throughput are transported through this port. Whilst it is a vibrant, bustling place to visit, it is important that you remain vigilant whilst you are there, because it is a working port and there are therefore a lot of vehicles and heavy plant machinery moving around. If you are near the working port area, it is important that you keep pets and children under control.
The port of Dordrecht sits in a well sheltered river harbour area, in a part of South Holland where three rivers meet. This prime position means that the port is the perfect location for the import and export of goods from around the Netherlands and from further afield. Once international goods arrive into port, they can be checked and audited by the harbour master and the port authority, before being transported elsewhere in the Netherlands. Many of the goods are even checked by customs officers. Once they have been checked in the port of Dordrecht, goods can be transported on by road, rail or water.
Some areas of the main port are off-limits to members of the public for their own safety, and for the safety and security of the cargo which is being transported through. However, it is possible to have a more relaxing stroll around the historic harbours of the city. Boat trips are available which allow visitors to explore the port and the historic harbour area by water.
Ships have been docking in the area for over 1000 years, and when you visit these harbours, it is possible to understand the changing fortunes of the city. The Voorstaatshaven is easily accessible by tourists on foot, as it forms the backbone of the old town area, but it also looks magnificent from the water. The bridges which connect Voorstaat with the surrounding area are particularly beautiful. The Nieuwe Haven was built in 1410 to allow the city to handle increased levels of trade. A further harbour, known as the Wolwevershaven was built in 1609, to help to improve trade links for the wool weavers. The Maartensgat harbour and the Kalkhaven were built later.
The whole historic harbour area extends along the river front, and it is possible to visit, eat in or even stay in many of the warehouse, merchant houses and quay areas. Strolling through the harbour area on a sunny day is a true pleasure for anyone who enjoys the outdoors.