20.000 Mijlen Onder Zee

In 1978 a new attraction was opened on the pier of Scheveningen. The attraction was called 20.000 Mijlen Onder Zee and was inspired by Jules Vernes’ novel 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea. Visitors could walk through Captain Nemo’s submarine Nautilus and see animated underwater scenery through the portholes. At the upper floor of the submarine visitors could see the seamonster, which scared them by banging a tentacle on one of the portholes. The attraction was officially closed in februari 1991. For some years the fireworks of the annual International Fireworks Festival were lit from the roof of the building.


On a random day I decided to go to the pier with my camera. The Van der Valk restaurant had recently closed and the first rumours about the pier being sold just went round, so I wanted to take some photos before things would change. It was this day that the old ‘stalen eiland’ (steel island) of the pier grabbed my attention. I saw 20.000 Mijlen Onder Zee written on a window. It had a catwalk to the restaurant and casino, so I had always assumed that it was used for storage, but now I noticed that it was looking very run-down. Still assuming that it was either storage or just empty and disused I didn’t think much of it, but for some reason I began to have some very early wake-ups during the weeks after that visit. I would be wide-awake at 5 am only thinking about that weird looking island and if it could be worth the risk to go there.

Then during another early wake-up I decided I had to just grab my gear and go as the tension was getting ridiculous. I walked and climbed my way to the island. It was quite risky. The steel floors were rusted so badly that there were big holes with the sea directly underneath it, and the entire pier could see my act of entering (which of course was forbidden). But I got inside safely and what I saw left me speechless. The entire attraction was still there, covered in pidgeon poop and beautiful decay! My heart nearly thumped out of my chest, it was an urban explorer’s dream coming true. I think that not many people have been there after its closure. Most parts of the building were pitch-dark or only barely lit so I decided that it wouldn’t be smart to venture too deep into the building on my own. After that short first visit I went back a few times with friends and explorers, discovering new parts of the building and taking the time for the photography. It was only at the last visit that someone caught us on our way out but we got away with a warning. I really wanted to go back just one more time to make some 360° panoramas but then the entire pier was being closed, making it impossible to go there again. According to the latest news the pier is going to be sold without the ‘fourth island’, which unfortunately will be demolished because of its bad state. 

The gallery contains photographs of four different visits. 

Update 25-8-2016:

Today the island has been cut from its pillars and will be transported to the harbour of Rotterdam. There it will be demolished. See http://www.ad.nl/den-haag/dag-stalen-eiland~a094cfb2/