Oldest moated Dutch castle sinks below rising sea levels


THESE are the remarkable scenes as the oldest moated castle in the Netherlands slowly sank beneath rapidly rising waters last week, fuelling fears of climate change catastrophe.

For centuries, Muiderslot Castle has played a vital role in defending the country from invasion and, 350 years ago, was deliberately flooded to thwart enemy troops.

And on Friday it happened all over again in a state-of-the-art light show designed not just to commemorate the famous flooding but also to shine a spotlight on the dangers of climate change.

Rijksmuseum Muiderslot, to give the castle its modern-day monicker, can be found at the mouth of the Vecht river, some 15 kilometers south-east of Amsterdam.

It was built on the site primarily for trade reasons. Overlooking what used to be the Dutch South Sea (Zuiderzee) and the Vecht,  every ship passing through had to pay tolls at the castle.

In 1672, the Netherlands was attacked from all sides, and Naarden, just down the road from Muiden was taken by the French – but despite heavy fighting, the Muiderslot remained in Dutch hands.

That was partly due to deliberate flooding of areas around the castle, successfully stopping the French from getting through. Water was to remain a vital protection measure for the castle.

But now rising sea levels mean it could become a 21st century threat and the current ‘Muiderslot Under Water’ spectacular, which runs again on October 28, reflects past, present and future.

The 700-year-old fortress is part of the Dutch Waterlines and the Defense Line of Amsterdam, and is a protected UNESCO World Heritage Centre site which annually attracts thousands of visitors.

I visited the castle virtually in the good company of expert local guide Stephan van der Meer on the Heygo travel streaming platform, where the ‘postcard’ pictures were remotely snapped.

Light-mapping projections showed a cast of characters – and even a sinking James Bond-like car – as the waters rose, and finally submerged the fortress, which instead became home to the fish.

Some of the images were stylishly surreal, others alarmingly authentic-looking, as two giant projectors turned the imposing castle walls into the equivalent of a giant cinema screen.

Organisers of the event explained: “With this exhibition, the museum hopes to draw attention to climate change and at the same time looks back on the disaster exactly 350 years back.”

To learn more about the event click here. To check out more of Stephan van der Meer’s live-streamed real-time tours see his Heygo page here.

Categories:Europe, heygoTags: , , , , ,

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