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 email@example.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?
And here, that same morning, the Varkensluis over the Oudezijdsvoorburgwal at Damstraat.
The very modern Jan Schaefferbrug from Java Eiland in the IJ to Amsterdam.
Next, a shot into the mouth of the Scharrebiersluis, a drawbridge at the Kadijksplein connecting the Entrepôtdok to the Schippersgracht.
Here it is on a different day from the side.
And completely open.
Here it is from Edward’s boat on yet another day from the other side.
And finally, in operation as seen on still another day from the Prins Hendrikkade.
Meanwhile, i was missing behind my back the closing of the modern Kortjewantsbrug over the Prins Hendrikkade.
Now, perhaps my favorite Amsterdam bridge, the Pelikaanbrug at Kattenburgerstraat.
And what was I thinking when I photographed the Pelikaanbrug from Kattenburgerstraat? It’s even better from the Nieuwe Vaart side.
A focus on the mechanism.
Here it is from Edward’s boat.
The Oranjebrug, in the Jordaan at the foot of the Prinsengracht going over the Brouwersgracht.
The Zandhoekbrug, a cute little double leaf drawbridge in the Westerdok. It’s on the Zouthoek over the Realengracht.
At the north end of the Zouthoek over the Zoutkeetsgracht is the 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.
And this one nearby, the Sloterdijkerbrug, connecting the Prinseneiland to the Planciusstraat on the west.
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.
And from Edward’s boat.
Just beyond the railroad bridge before you head out into the IJ there’s this drawbridge. Who knows the name of this one?
Here’s some lovely metalwork on the Westergasbrug, which goes from Haarlemmerweg over the Harlemmervaart to the Westergasfabrik in the Westerpark.
And some detail.
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.
I found this impossibly cute little thing for pedestrians and bicyclists over near the Entrepôtdok. It’s called the Nijlpaardenbrug.
To help those who don’t know what Nile Horses are, the sign is shaped like an elongated hippopotamus.
Plus a look into the hippo’s mouth.
And some detail.
Finally, a couple of shots from Edward’s boat.
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.
Here’s some detail on it.
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.
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.
Now, out in the docklands on the east side of Amsterdam, the Entrepôtdoksluis at de Hoogte Kadijk.
But here it is from Edward’s boat.
The Enneüs Heermabrug, popularly known as the“Bra Bridge” over the Ijsselmeer in the northeastern outskirts of Amsterdam.
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?
In the same vein, but more so, over in the Oosterdok area. I couldn’t find the name of this one, either.
A spectacular engineering confection, the Zouthavenbrug, connecting the Piet Heinkade with the Muziekgebouw aan ‘t IJ.
Another shot of it.
A little modern bridge connecting the library and Nemo, it’s the Mr. J.J. van der Veldebrug.
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.
And a very modern drawbridge, the Latjgesbrug, also near the Waterlooplein and over the Nieuwe Herrengracht, caught in the act of closing.
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.
A rather larger pedestrian bridge, this one connecting to Borneo Eiland and named Lage Brug although popularly called the Python Bridge.
A head-on shot of the Python Bridge, and aren’t those lovely light fixtures!
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.
And now, a restaurant near Westerdok named Open, fashioned from a gloriously repurposed obsolete swinging railroad bridge now fixed in the open position.
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.
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.]
And down the Prinsengracht, the Lekkeresluis at the corner of the Brouwersgracht.
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:
And don’t forget Beatrix.
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.
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.
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.
I’ll end this photo essay with shots from Rotterdam. Here’s the Willemsbrug.
And finally, the famous Erasmusbrug. Here’s the traditional view.
And some non-traditional shots:
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!