Amsterdam’s Bridges

I made seven visits to Amsterdam between 2001 and 2011, and my primary focuses were on getting to know the people and culture and on learning the language. But of course i took photos of their bridges.  Here are some of them, but not by any means an exhaustive compilation.

After all, the center of my Amsterdam universe was the corner of Spuistraat and Korte Lijnbaanssteeg, which is where i lived during those month-long visits, and basically i traveled in concentric circles around that location just west of the Nieuwezijdsvoorburgwal, the “new side front bastion wall”, which gets the “new” in its name because it wasn’t built until late 1385.

Except for trips to Java Eiland and Borneo Eiland, I didn’t get east of Oostenburgerstraat.  Except for a visit to Westerpark, i was not west of Marnixkade.  Only got over to Noord Amsterdam a few times and saw no bridge worth photographing over there other than the spectacular one over the Noord Hollands Kanaal.  And except for a couple of visits to friends, i was not south of the Albert Cupymarkt.  Very limited scope here.

I started taking these photos in 2004, and quite frankly had totally forgot about a lot of them before i started going through my photo files gathering material for this essay, so there are bound to be mistakes.  My Dutch friend Wayne provided a great deal of information and directed me to an excellent Dutch website on Amsterdam’s Bridges that i found invaluable and from which i am still retrofitting tidbits.  If you find errors or have additional information, i would appreciate your emailing me at mattegray.sf@gmail.com.

Let’s start with a bridge over the Oudezijdsvoorburgwal (i think) early on a dead calm morning.  Anyone know the name of this one?

Oudezijdsvoorburgwal bridge

 

And here, that same morning, the Varkensluis over the Oudezijdsvoorburgwal at Damstraat.

Varkensluis over the Oudezijdsvoorburgwal

 

The very modern Jan Schaefferbrug from Java Eiland in the IJ to Amsterdam.

Jan Schaefferbrug

Jan Schaefferbrug

 

Next, a shot into the mouth of the Scharrebiersluis, a drawbridge at the Kadijksplein connecting the Entrepôtdok to the Schippersgracht.

Scharrebiersluis near Entrepôtdok

 

Here it is on a different day from the side.

Scharrebiersluis

And completely open.

Scharrebiersluis in the Weesperbuurt

 

Here it is from Edward’s boat on yet another day from the other side.

 Scharrebiersluis near the Entrepôtdok

 

And finally, in operation as seen on still another day from the Prins Hendrikkade.

 

Scharrebiersluis

 

Scharrebiersluis

Scharrebiersluis

Scharrebiersluis

Scharrebiersluis

 

Scharrebiersluis

Scharrebiersluis

Scharrebiersluis

Scharrebiersluis

 

Meanwhile, i was missing behind my back the closing of the modern Kortjewantsbrug over the Prins Hendrikkade.

Kortjewantsbrug on Prins Hendrikkade

 

Kortjewantsbrug on Prins Hendrikkade

 

Kortjewantsbrug on Prins Hendrikkade

Kortjewantsbrug on Prins Hendrikkade

 

Now, perhaps my favorite Amsterdam bridge, the Pelikaanbrug at Kattenburgerstraat.

pelikaanbrug

And what was I thinking when I photographed the Pelikaanbrug from Kattenburgerstraat? It’s even better from the Nieuwe Vaart side.

Pelikaanbrug

 

Pelikaanbrug

 

Pelikaanbrug

 

A focus on the mechanism.

Pelikaanbrug

Pelikaanbrug

Pelikaanbrug

 

Here it is from Edward’s boat.

Pelikaanbrug

Pelikaanbrug

 

The Oranjebrug, in the Jordaan at the foot of the Prinsengracht going over the Brouwersgracht.

Oranjebrug

Oranjebrug

 

The Zandhoekbrug, a cute little double leaf drawbridge in the Westerdok.  It’s on the Zouthoek over the Realengracht.

Zandhoekbrug

Zandhoekbrug

 

At the north end of the Zouthoek over the Zoutkeetsgracht is the Petemayenbrug.

Petemayenbrug

 

Prinseneiland is a little island to the southwest, and there are three bridges connecting to it.  Here’s the Drieharingenbrug on Vierwindenwarsstraat over the Realengracht.

Drieharingenbrug

Drieharingenbrug

Drieharingenbrug

 

And this one nearby, the Sloterdijkerbrug, connecting the Prinseneiland to the Planciusstraat on the west.

Sloterdijkerbrug

The third Prinseneiland bridge, the Galgenbrug over the Bickersgracht is a fixed bridge so utterly boring and uninteresting that it never occurred to me to take a pic of it.  Don’t believe me?  Take a look.

 

On the way back from the Westerdok there’s this modern monster of a railroad drawbridge, just west of the Centraal Station at the Houtmankade.

Railroad drawbridge west of the Centraal Station

Railroad drawbridge west of the Centraal Station

And from Edward’s boat.

Railroad drawbridge west of the Centraal Station

Just beyond the railroad bridge before you head out into the IJ there’s this drawbridge.  Who knows the name of this one?

at the entrance to the IJ

 

Here’s some lovely metalwork on the Westergasbrug, which goes from Haarlemmerweg over the Harlemmervaart to the Westergasfabrik in the Westerpark.

Westergasbrug

And some detail.

Westergasbrug

And just to the west of that, here’s a pedestrian/bicycle bridge connecting Van Hallstraat over the Haarlemmervaart with the Polonceaukade.  It deserves a name but so far has only the number 1973.

Polonceaukade bridge number 1973

 

I found this impossibly cute little thing for pedestrians and bicyclists over near the Entrepôtdok.  It’s called the Nijlpaardenbrug.

Nijlpaardenbrug

Nijlpaardenbrug

 

To help those who don’t know what Nile Horses are, the sign is shaped like an elongated hippopotamus.

Nijlpaardenbrug

 

Plus a look into the hippo’s mouth.

Nijlpaardenbrug

 

And some detail.

Nijlpaardenbrug

 

Finally, a couple of shots from Edward’s boat.

Nijlpaardenbrug

Nijlpaardenbrug

 

Here’s a new drawbridge, the IJdoornlaanbrug, over the Noord Hollands Kanaal in the northern suburbs of Amsterdam. In its own way, it is every bit as beautiful as the Pelikaanbrug, and it’s open to vehicular traffic as well as bicycles and pedestrians.  There’s a bit more to this one, though.  Its popular name is the Brug van Zuchten (Bridge of Sighs) owing to the great delays and cost overruns in its construction, the engineering problems that remain (such as it having to be sprayed with cold water from the canal on hot days before it can be opened), and the fact that it was obsolete from the day it was built owing to new, fixed bridges that will be built farther north across the canal.  Not that the cost overruns and engineering problems are unique to modern Dutch bridges, witness the same problems with San Francisco’s new Bay Bridge.

IJdoornlaanbrug over the Noord Hollands Kanaal

IJdoornlaanbrug over the Noord Hollands Kanaal

IJdoornlaanbrug over the Noord Hollands Kanaal

 

IJdoornlaanbrug over the Noord Hollands Kanaal

 IJdoornlaanbrug over the Noord Hollands Kanaal

 

Here’s some detail on it.

IJdoornlaanbrug over the Noord Hollands Kanaal

IJdoornlaanbrug over the Noord Hollands Kanaal

IJdoornlaanbrug over the Noord Hollands Kanaal

IJdoornlaanbrug over the Noord Hollands Kanaal

IJdoornlaanbrug over the Noord Hollands Kanaal

 

Staalstraat is a short street, but it has two old drawbridges on it, this one, the Aluminumbrug over the Kloveniersburgwal, is a block from my favorite.  The superstructure is steel, but the deck is aluminum, thus the name.

Aluminumbrug

Aluminumbrug

Aluminumbrug

Aluminumbrug

 

And here’s my favorite bridge in Amsterdam, the Staalmeestersbrug over the Groenburgwal.  Well, my favorite old bridge.  I made a short visit to Amsterdam in the fall of 1999 and stayed on the Groenburgwal.  After crashing for several hours to recover from the flight over, i ventured out to the south in the early evening and came to this bridge so beautifully illuminated that i stopped in my tracks to admire it.  Alas, this was well before i had a digital camera, and i never got over there at night again.  Shoulda.

I have to point out that i am not the only famous person with good taste to whom this bridge has appealed, since Claude Monet did a painting of it in 1874.

Staalmeesterbrug

 

Staalmeesterbrug

Staalmeesterbrug

Staalmeesterbrug

 

Now, out in the docklands on the east side of Amsterdam, the Entrepôtdoksluis at de Hoogte Kadijk.

Entrepôtdoksluis

But here it is from Edward’s boat.

Entrepôtdoksluis

 

The Enneüs Heermabrug, popularly known as the“Bra Bridge” over the Ijsselmeer in the northeastern outskirts of Amsterdam.

Enneüs Heermabrug ("Bra Bridge")

 

Here’s a modern fixed bridge on De Ruiterkade just behind and a bit to the west of the Centraal Station.  Does it have a name?

P1020413

 

In the same vein, but more so, over in the Oosterdok area.  I couldn’t find the name of this one, either.

Oosterdok bridge

 

A spectacular engineering confection, the Zouthavenbrug, connecting the Piet Heinkade with the Muziekgebouw aan ‘t IJ.

Zouthavenbrug

 

Zouthavenbrug

Another shot of it.

Zouthavenbrug to the Muziekgebouw Aan 't IJ

 

A little modern bridge connecting the library and Nemo, it’s the Mr. J.J. van der Veldebrug.

Mr. J.J. van der Veldebrug from Nemo

 

The Walter Süskindbrug near the Waterlooplein over the Nieuwe Herrengracht.  It is very very similar to the most famous drawbridge in Amsterdam, the Magerer Brug, which i obstinately refused to photograph because every other tourist does so.  But if you gotta see that one, again, here’s a link.

Walter Süskindbrug

Walter Süskindbrug

Walter Süskindbrug

 

And a very modern drawbridge, the Latjgesbrug, also near the Waterlooplein and over the Nieuwe Herrengracht, caught in the act of closing.

Latjgesbrug

Latjgesbrug

Latjgesbrug

Latjgesbrug

Latjgesbrug

Latjgesbrug

Latjgesbrug near the Waterlooplein

 

Probably Amsterdam’s smallest drawbridge, over close to Borneo Eiland.  It’s counterbalanced so that one person can raise it, hold it open until the boat is through, and then lower it.

drawbridge

A rather larger pedestrian bridge, this one connecting to Borneo Eiland and named Lage Brug although popularly called the Python Bridge.

Lage Brug, AKA Pythonbrug

A head-on shot of the Python Bridge, and aren’t those lovely light fixtures!

Lage Brug, AKA Pythonbrug

Oh, and here’s the Python Bridge’s unassuming brother, Hoge Brug, also connecting to Borneo Eiland but without the steps so it can be used by bicycles.

Hogh Brug

Hogh Brug

 

And now, a restaurant near Westerdok named Open, fashioned from a gloriously repurposed obsolete swinging railroad bridge now fixed in the open position.

Open

Open

 

One of those modern pedestrian bridges i like so much, but this one engineered to turn on a central pivot to let boats pass.  Unlike Open, it’s fully operational, but i can’t find its name.  I think it’s the bridge between the Mr. J.J. van der Veldebrug and the railroad tracks.

center pivot bridge

A couple of very busy bridges on Queen’s Day, 2005.  This one is Brug 126 in de Tweede Leliedwarsstraat over de Egelantiersgracht.  [Especial thanks to my Dutch friend Wayne for tracking down the location and number of this one.]

Brug 126 in de Tweede Leliedwarsstraat over de Egelantiersgracht

 

And down the Prinsengracht, the Lekkeresluis at the corner of the Brouwersgracht.

Lekkeresluis on Queen's Day

 

Finally, some bridges outside Amsterdam.

Marken is this impossibly quaint village north of Amsterdam, and in addition to the preserved and restored period architecture it has three old-style drawbridges, named after the most recent Queens. Here’s Wilhelmina’s:

Wilhelminabrug

 

And Juliana’s:

Julianabrug

Julianabrug

 

And don’t forget Beatrix.

Beatrixbrug

 

And since i’m outside of Amsterdam, here’s the Hillegom Station.  What the hell, you ask, was i doing in Hillegom?  Well, my friends Erik and Barbara live there, and i rode down three times to visit them.

Here’s a shot looking north toward Amsterdam.  The “bridge” over the railroad tracks is necessary because the town is to the east of the tracks and the station would otherwise serve only the tulip fields to the west.

Hillegom Station

 

Hillegom station

Hillegom Station

 

Now let’s go way up in Friesland to Frentsjer, or as the Dutch call it, Franeker, where i found this spectacular modern drawbridge called the Stationsbrug.

Stationsbrug in Frentsjer

Stationsbrug in Frentsjer

Stationsbrug in Frentsjer

Stationsbrug in Frentsjer

 

In July, 2011 Rina drove us down to Den Bosch to get my Segway repaired, and about halfway down there we crossed a spectacular bridge named after a Dutch poet.  It’s the over the Waal river near Zaltbommel, and only the Dutch could name their bridges for poets.

Dammit all, i could not find an informative link on the bridge in English, so this one on the Martinus Nijhoffbrug will have to do. The main thrust of it is that Nijhoff wrote a sonnet, “De Moeder de Vrouw” [The Mother of the Woman], about the Brommelse Brug, the previous bridge at this location, and this poem became one of the most famous in modern Dutch literature.

Not good photos since they were taken from the car as we crossed, but i gotta add them because i love this bridge so much. Here’s a good YouTube clip on it.

Martinus Nijhoffbrug

Martinus Nijhoffbrug

Martinus Nijhoffbrug

 

I’ll end this photo essay with shots from Rotterdam. Here’s the Willemsbrug.

Willemsbrug

Willemsbrug

Willemsbrug

 

And finally, the famous Erasmusbrug. Here’s the traditional view.

Erasmusbrug

 

And some non-traditional shots:

Erasmusbrug

Erasmusbrug

Erasmusbrug

Erasmusbrug

Erasmusbrug

What i did not know when i visited this bridge and took these photos was that the southern end of the bridge is a drawbridge with a hidden counterweight underneath.  Here’s a news video about the reopening of the bridge after some repairs that shows the bridge operating!

 

Leave a comment

4 Comments

  1. marker
    Posted 11 May 2015 at 16:31 | Permalink

    The variety of styles is astonishing! I love the ones painted in bright primary colors the most. Color draws attention to the mechanics of each and every component piece, illustrating how all these interconnected parts work with one another. Lovely.

    • Matte Gray
      Posted 11 May 2015 at 16:46 | Permalink

      They’ve been doing drawbridges for centuries now, so it’s interesting to see the different styles. And yes, i absolutely love their use of primary colors in the modern ones to draw attention to the different components. Just as a teaser i’ll mention that today i went up into Marin County and captured a couple of bridges over the mighty Petaluma River in preparation for my photo essay covering ALL of its bridges, an easier project than for most rivers:-)

  2. Anne P
    Posted 2 June 2016 at 18:51 | Permalink

    I’ve been to the Netherlands several times and am always impressed by the variety of bridges. Your blog has provided the name of several of them that I’ve seen repeatedly. Thank you!

    • Posted 3 June 2016 at 06:07 | Permalink

      Delighted to reach someone who shares my interest in bridges. You might also enjoy my Amsterdam Tales, which are non-traditional travelogues.

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