17th century: The origin of the Vesting

Water and Hellevoetsluis have been connected for centuries. Thanks to its favourable and strategic location on the Haringvliet inlet, at the beginning of the 17th century Hellevoetsluis became a home port for the Dutch war fleet; a port that was later continually fortified, resulting in a unique combination of a fortification town and a war port. The port has been the home port to renowned admirals such as de Ruyter, Tromp and Piet Hein.

In 1667, a fleet departed from Hellevoetsluis in order to attack the British navy port of Chatham. The operation was successful: dozens of frigates were burned or sunk, and Michiel de Ruyter returned triumphantly with the conquered flagship The Royal Charles. In order to prevent one of the enemies of the Republic from carrying out a similar attack on the war fleet in Hellevoetsluis, the first fortifications were built around that period. These were simple constructions of wooden stakes and earthen parapets. 

Twenty years later, these fortifications were in a poor state and since the repairs would cost a lot of money, Hellevoetsluis was at risk of losing its position as a navy port to Willemstad. However, in 1688, during the preparations for his Glorious Passage to England to claim the throne, Stadhouder Willem III realized that the port had an exceptionally favourable location. He set sail for England from Hellevoetsluis with 400 ships, to become king there. Willem decided that considerable investments should be made in the port and that a system of modern fortifications should be built in Hellevoetsluis. The metamorphosis took place between 1695 and 1710, and the characteristic form of the fortress can still be recognized to this very day.