Den Helder is a port city in North Holland. It is the main base of the Royal Netherlands Navy and is also an important civilian port.
Den Helder is the northernmost settlement on the mainland of Noord Holland. Den Helder is named as such since 1928. Before that, the city was called Helder, but was also referred to as 't Nieuwediep and Willemsoord. Den Helder was the local name, which was solidified as the town name in 1928.
Den Helder has been an island town up to 1610, when the Zanddijk between Callantsoog and Huisduinen was completed. The town was a naval one, with most of its income coming from fishing. East of the town was the Nieuwediep inlet, which formed a natural harbour. Stadtholder Willem V ordered to investigate the option of creating a new harbour for the royal navy in 1779, and after much resistance from Hoorn, Enkhuizen and Medemblik, the other three major harbour cities along the Zuiderzee, work started in 1781 to make the Nieuwe Diep into a harbour. Den Helder subsequently became one of the home ports of the royal navy.
During Napoleonic French occupation, the town was fortified . The navy permanently stayed when the French were defeated. Den Helder became an outport of Amsterdam with the completion of the Noordhollandsch Kanaal. The town subsequently expanded, got a steamboat connection to Amsterdam in 1845 and a railway connection to Amsterdam in 1865. Meanwhile, the national naval university also moved to the town. The town of Juliadorp was founded in 1909 after the town moved back to fishing since the Noordhollandsch Kanaal allowed ships bound for Amsterdam to do there directly, from which the trade suffered. 10% of the people in Den Helder migrated to elsewhere in the country.
The city, during World War Two, housed parts of the German Navy, and the entire town was declared a Sperrgebiet in 1943, meaning that Den Helder no longer was accessible to regular people. In favour of the Atlantikwall and having a free range of sight, many buildings along the seadike were demolished. Since the fall of the Nazi-German Empire, the city has been largely expanded upon.
Get in Edit
Den Helder has two train stations to its name, these being 1 and 2 . Both of these are on the same line that terminates at Den Helder. From here, two train services connect to the rest of the country. Both follow the same route up to Utrecht via Amsterdam, from which one goes to Nijmegen via Arnhem and the other goes to Maastricht via Eindhoven. Both trains are Intercity services, meaning that they stop only at the major stations. Travelling to Den Helder, however, the train becomes a stopping train from Alkmaar onwards. Be sure to sit in one of the front carriages of the train, as the rear carriages are detached at a station en-route! Den Helder station (the last stop on the line) is far more useful for tourists as it is located in the centre of the city. The station includes a small cafe which sells snacks and drinks.
Ferries from Texel arrive at Den Helder's harbour, which is 25 minutes away when travelling on foot from the station. Catch a bus or taxi if you have luggage. Bus goes back and forth between 3 and the Den Helder train station every thirty minutes. This saves you fifteen minutes in total.
Get around Edit
A bus service is available, though the centre of the city is reasonably compact and all the attractions are within comfortable walking distance of one another.
- The city's sea wall provides a good view of the constant parade of ships entering and leaving the port.
- Koninklijk Instituut voor de Marine
- Lange Jaap lighthouse
Museums and other things to see in Den Helder are:
- Fort Kijkduin - this fortress was built in 1811
- Oude Rijkswerf Willemsoord - former naval base of the Royal Netherlands Navy where several museums can be found. The whole area and most of the buildings are a national heritage site and there are several historical ships
- Marinemuseum  - this museum records the history of the Royal Netherlands Navy, and includes several preserved warships and a submarine. It takes about 20 minutes to walk from Den Helder's train station to the museum.
- Nationaal Reddingmuseum Dorus Rijkers - national rescue museum
- Hortus Overzee - botanical garden
- De Nollen - nature and art project
- Helderse Vallei - educational nature center with petting zoo and viewing tower nearby
- Dunes - This Natura 2000 area is a good place for a walking or bicycle trip
- Beach - Den Helder has seven kilometers of sandy beaches
- Hotel Lands End
- Grand Hotel Beatrix