I ended up at Fort de Ruyter after a walk from the port of Vlissingen. It wasn’t a clear-cut road and I did not know what I would be looking at when I arrived. The sight, as ever, was both magical and unexpected. It is quintessentially Dutch to have a thorough combination of the very old and the very modern, and that is what this fort represents in many a way.
That being said, the very old here is not that old. The idea of a fort here is Napoleonic (Fort Sant Hilaire), but the Dutch took it over in 1814 and renamed it after their old naval hero. This first stage in the fortification’s life lasted for five decades until being mothballed in 1867. The Dutch again looked to defending the valuable possessions along De Schelde in the early 20th century, and started construction of a fort in 1913 in the same place and with the old name. This stage lasted for 13 years, with the new fortification abolished in 1926.
The Second World War is the next stage that militarised the place though some work had been going on since 1937. The German war machine used the Fort de Ruyter as an anti-aircraft battery location, and this is the last military stage of this fort. The wind turbines present there could of course be mentioned in the same terms but it might make more sense to keep them separate, and indeed I do not know their story.
My visit was greatly improved by the wonderful cloudscapes I witnessed after a stormy day. The sunset was visible and the sheep — main occupants of the fort in the modern day — were enjoying an evening meal of some no-doubt delightfully fresh grass.
I did not go exploring into the fort itself, as I was not too sure how safe the concrete facilities were. Some of the ceilings had overturned, at the very least, but overall I imagine I could have survived a walk into the fort itself. The walk around it takes one about three faces of it with the forested side in the back remaining the least accessible.
Overall, I would recommend a visit there and at least for me the impact was far out of proportion to the size or might of the place. The time I chose was good, however, and on a dreary day this place might be best skipped. Of course, if one already is by De Schelde or Vlissingen then there is no reason not to stop by.