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About 70 kilometers southwest of Amsterdam just past The Hague on the Hook of Holland, the Maeslant Barrier is just part of the country's massive Delta Works project, an engineering marvel designed to prevent flooding.
The final piece of this engineering puzzle, the barrier consists of two huge gates capable of closing off the New Waterway when a storm surge threatens.
The Dromedaris Tower, another relic of the town's fortifications built in 1540, is also worth a visit; in addition to its superb views, it boasts a carillon that ranks among the finest in the Netherlands (be sure to check out the old prison cells).
Also on the IJsselmeer, about 40 minutes south of Enkhuizen, the old fishing village of Volendam is worth a visit to see its traditional fishing boats and Dutch costumes featuring the iconic women's pointed bonnet.
The best way to learn more about this fantastic feat is through the Zuiderzee Museum.Before anything can be shipped off, the crowds are welcomed and bells are rung (English language explanations of the rituals are offered at am).Afterwards, pop into the Alkmaar Cheese Museum in the Weigh House for its exhibits on the history of cheesemaking.In the small town of Wierdijk, the museum focuses on the rich cultural traditions of the area, along with displays of the Zuiderzee's maritime history and the ongoing process of land reclamation.Highlights include a number of preserved 17th-century buildings, many old boats, and artifacts relating to the region's fishing traditions.
English language guided tours of the storm surge barrier and museum are available on weekends (reservations required).