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If you are driving to Flevoland, you need to use up to date Holland maps. Neither the land, nor the road we were driving on, appeared on our old map. According to it, we were driving on water!

Flevoland, Holland's twelfth province, was established in 1986. In 1950, the Central Holland province was still part of the Zuiderzee (a North Sea inlet).

Woman in Urk costume
Woman in Urk costume
Photo © Barb & Ron Kroll

After the Zuiderzee was enclosed by the Afsluitdijk dam, the Zuiderzee name was changed to IJsselmeer, which means the lake at the end of the IJssel River.


Flevoland is located on reclaimed land. Its capital city, Lelystad, was named after Cornelis Lely, the engineer responsible for the Afsluitdijk. Established in 1967, Lelystad is 16 feet (five meters) below sea level.

The Nieuw (New) Land Heritage Center, in Lelystad, gives visitors a fascinating description of land reclamation from the sea. We learned that it takes between 20 and 30 years to build a polder from the diking of the outline to the end of the drying and planting stages.


The Northeast Polder (Noordoostpolder), a region that lay at the bottom of the IJsselmeer until 1942, is now covered with tulip fields, wide straight roads and canals.

Fishermen mend nets on boat in Northeast Polder.
Fishermen mend nets on boat in Northeast Polder.
Photo © Barb & Ron Kroll

The village of Urk, once an island, was absorbed by the Northeast Polder. For 700 years, it was isolated from other communities with its own way of life, costumes and traditions.

From May to September, fishermen catch fish and eels. On days they don't go out to sea, the fishermen mend nets in their boats.

Some older men and women still wear costumes. We walked along narrow brick streets and admired the brightly painted houses, with their lace curtains and profusion of flowers. The friendly villagers were as curious about us as we were of them, so we had several interesting and informative conversations.


Netherlands Board of Tourism and Conventions: www.holland.com

More things to see & do in Holland:

Dutch Foods, Drinks and Cuisine

Zeeland & North Brabant Holland

Drenthe, Groningen & Friesland Holland

Utrecht Holland Vacation

Dutch Phrasebook