Landschapsbeheer Flevoland

A short history of Flevoland

Flevoland is different compared to other Dutch counties, because the entire surface is relatively young. The land we know today was not there 70 years ago; still it has an amazing cultural landscape history. This history dates back to prehistoric times, before there ever was a sea, Zuiderzee, or Flevoland. There are traces of a hunters and gatherers civilization that lived in Eastern Flevoland about 6000 years ago. After the ice-ages water found its way to this part of the lands and did not leave the Flevoland-area until our modern civilization decided to reclaim this land and therefore forcing the Zuiderzee to become a lake, IJsselmeer. Apparently the Zuiderzee was not very kind to sailors, since many remains of sunken ships have been found and documented. Flevoland has the largest density of documented shipwrecks in the whole world. Besides the ships, also a lot of airplanes have been found, these planes crashed into the Zuiderzee during the world wars.

In 1918 Cornelis Lely made plans to close off the Zuiderzee and reclaim parts of the land. The idea was put into action and in 1932 the dike that encloses the Zuiderzee was finished, turning the sea into the lake IJsselmeer. In 1942 the Northern part of Flevoland, Noordoostpolder, was reclaimed. In the year before the land was dry, people were already working there to create spaces for roads, houses and farms. To do this the land had to be structured so everything would end up in the right spot. The workers built watchtowers, literally translated ‘measurement-chairs’, in the water. From these square watchtowers the land was measured and structured. To mark the places for the beginnings and endings of future canals they used poles made out of willow wood. Some of these poles are said to have grown into willows, these trees are probably the oldest trees in Flevoland.

Flevoland was reclaimed in three parts. First, they claimed the Noordoostpolder, second the Eastern part of Flevoland and finally the Southern part of Flevoland was claimed. Each part shows the development of that specific time in the 20thcentury. In 1942 the plots were small due to limited ways of transportation, mostly bicycles were used. In 1957, Eastern Flevoland was reclaimed and this part is still mostly farmland. However, the farm plots are much larger here because of the increasing use of motorcycles and cars. Finally in 1968 the last part of Flevoland was reclaimed, Southern Flevoland. In this part we find much more room for cities, companies, nature and recreational activities. Overall, Flevoland offers a varied cultural landscape full of history and unique landscape elements.

Find out more about what Landschapsbeheer Flevoland does with the cultural landscape history of Flevoland here.