Waterslootse Poort


The main gate in the city's west wall

The Waterslootse Poort was begun in 1355 with only the two round towers for hiding defenders and their guns. On the map of 1550, it has only two high towers and an unfortified bridge across the singel.

In 1564, the steward (baljuw) of Delfland, the water management administrative unit for the southwestern area of Holland, requested that the Waterslootse Poort be used as a jail and court. Justice in those days was swift. Punishment was more likely to involve banishment rather than incarceration. Thus, the jail was more of what we might call a holding center today, holding prisoners awaiting trial before the Hoge Vierschaar of Delfland.

When Willem of Orange made Delft his headquarters in 1572, he fortified the city. Blaeu's 1649 Delft Batavorum map (upper right; click to enlarge) and the 1678 Kaart Figuratief (lower right; click to enlarge) show the result. In 1573 work began on the Waterslootse Poort. The singel was made wider. The pointed bastion was constructed with a barbican next to a little guard house. A bridge, called a neck, was constructed between the bastion and the city. Another was constructed between the bastion and the polders across the singel; it had a narrow drawbridge. The high towers, a liability because of the development of heavy cannons, were lowered. To accommodate the needs of the Hoogheemraadschap, the water managment board, the large building spanning both towers was completed by 1593. The result was the most imposing, complex, and architecturally impressive gate of Delft's six and among the most impressive city gates in all Holland.

Beyond the bastion, the Buitenwatersloot led (off the bottom of the map) to the farms in den Hoorn, Schipluiden, and Maasland. The quarter-mile of the Buitenwatersloot closest to the city had houses on either side, including several owned by members of Leeuwenhoek's family.

The Waterslootse Poort was for foot, horse, and carriage traffic only. A boat coming from the west into Delft on the Buitenwatersloot first had to pass under the low bridge across from the point of the bastion. Its bottleneck function can be seen more clearly in the Vroom panorama from 1618 below. The sloot and singel were shallow enough for pole barges, too shallow for masted boats that couldn't fit under the bridge, anyway.

At the point of the bastion, a boat could go right (south) along the side of the bastion, under the drawbridge there, along the singel (off the right of the map), under the drawbridge at the Bourgonse Toren and into the Kolk. There, it could off-load to a city barge or continue through the water gate between the Schiedamse Poort and the Rotterdamse Poort.

The other way in was to go left (north) at the bastion, along the singel (off the left of the map), under the Schoolpoort drawbridge and around to the water gate between the Wateringsepoort and the Haagpoort.

Early on, the Waterslootse Poort was also called the St. Joris Poort. Bleyswijck in his Beschrijvinge of 1667 called it the Westlandse Poort because of where it led.

The barbican and the guard house were torn down in the late 1700's. The gate and building over it were sold for scrap (price: 3,000 guilders) in the 1840's to make way for Delft's first train station. The tracks themselves replaced the singel on that side. Water traffic diverting the water traffic from the Vliet to the Schie that had bypassed Delft via the western singel was thereafter diverted around the eastern singel.

Delft in 1608
Hendrik Cornelisz Vroom (c.1562 – 1640)

1832 Kadaster number: