Dordrecht is an island in an inland sea, less obvious now given the recovered land. However, in the 14th, some three hundred years after its 11c founding on the banks of the Thuredrith River, a huge storm created what is now called the National Park of the Biesbosch, through which we traveled from our original starting point in Eindhoven. This left the city isolated, but of course, they had boats! It was not until the 17th century that enough silting had occurred that wealthy individuals in Dordrecht began the process of making polders, recovered land. In 1953 another massive storm once again left Dordrecht surrounded, leaving thousands dead in the country. Even after the major flood control efforts that followed, there are still flooding issues here.
We are moored in the old town just off the river, where the passing barges and ships send motion through the narrow entrance to the harbor, causing the boats to rock and wiggle in their mooring boxes, tied at the front end to a post and to a small, low floating dock. We exit the boat off the rear ladder. It is just a two minute walk to the restaurants that sit on the river’s edge. From there you see the busy river traffic, as ships come from the sea, Germany and the north of Holland laden with containers of goods, and the usual sand laden barges as well. The water taxi zooms from one side of the river to another, it’s radar keeping an eye on the likes of us.
On these warm days pleasure craft head for the Biesbosch in large numbers, as there are not many days when you can swim off your boat. I took a dip on the way to Dordrecht, and planned on another in the Biesbosch. However the engine cut off switch was not working so we ended in Werkendam. I took a look below. The wire wire was disconnected. It was a simple matter to replace then clamp down the connection to prevent another occurrence. You have to be a bit of a mechanic to operate a boat.
Dordrecht was at the center of the revolt against the Holy Roman Empire. The city was walled, with thirteen towers controlling entrance.
In July, 1572 the 80 Years War was intensifying. William of Orange sought to free the Dutch from the Spanish Phillip II, the head of the Empire. High taxes and famine were motivators, as well as the persecution of Protestants by the Catholics. He sent a representative to the organizing meeting in Dordrecht, after which William was recognized as the Statholder by the States of Holland. This event is dramatized in a film at the Het Hof van Nederland museum, located in a historic neighborhood laden with grand architecture.
There is a display showing changes in the religious make up of the country over the centuries. You see the wave of Protestantism originating in Germany and Switzerland. The Canons of the Dutch Reform Church were written here in 1619, following doctrinal disputes, and remain the basis of the Church in the Nederlands, South Africa, North America and Australia. The major issue concerned predestination. Both the Remonstrants and the Counter-Remonstrants believed in predestination, but not to the same degree. They spent a year at the table before the latter prevailed.
These days the Dutch are the most non-religious people on earth. About 50% of the people declare themselves to be atheists, compared to around 10% in the US. About 48% are members of a church, although many of those join for cultural reasons and are also declared atheists. Churches are treated as museums in many cases, preserving the architecture and the art that survived destruction by the iconoclasts, who opposed artistic representations of the Christian deities. They are magnificent if not quite up to par with what you see in Paris and Rome.