The capital city of the Netherlands is built mainly on a network of concentric half-circle canals. For a city then that has so many waterways, it is but natural that Amsterdam has numerous bridges connecting the various sections of the city. One count puts the number of bridges as high as 1200. From a vantage point at the corner of Reguliersgracht and Herengracht canal, those standing at the odd numbered side can see up to 15 of these bridges from just that one spot. Many of the bridges are historical monuments in themselves and the oldest one dates back to 1648. Many of them are remarkable works of engineering and all of them are a sight for sore eyes – beautifully designed and perfectly executed.
In a scenario with over a 1000 bridges to select from, choosing the top five is no easy task. So this list is by no means a definitive ranking. It is a list of my personal five favorite bridges in Amsterdam.
- Magere Brug or Skinny Bridge: This is one of the bridges with the most character in Amsterdam. Spanning the river Amstel, this old wooden footbridge has a lovely legend that it was built so that two sisters who lived on the river’s two banks could visit each other easily. The bridge has been added to in more recent times but a small section of the original still remains.
- Python Bridge: This red bridge with undulating waves like a snake won the International Footbridge Award in 2012. One of the most modernistic bridges in Amsterdam, the walkway of the Python Bridge actually rises and falls and can be quite a steep climb. This bridge connects Sporenburg and Borneo island.
- The Jan Schaeferbrug: This bridge has the unique distinction of being built right through a building. Built in the year 2000, the bridge’s designers were loath to tear down a warehouse built in 1938. So they built the bridge right through the warehouse which is now a tourist attraction and used for exhibitions and cultural shows.
- The Enneus Heermabrug: One of the largest bridges in the city, this steel structure was named after a Dutch politician. This bridge spans the distance between IJburg and the Amsterdam mainland and is quite an iconic landmark.
- The Blue Bridge: Not only is this bridge not blue at all, it has great historical value. It was built at the same time as some of the bridges across the Seine in Paris and bears a striking resemblance to their designs. This bridge has a place in Dutch history for being the scene of the ‘squatters riots’ on April 30, 1980, the day Queen Beatrix ascending to the throne of the Netherlands.
Just a tour of the city’s bridges will provide sufficient pleasure and discovery for a good couple of days. Covering all areas from the most affluent to the most romantic, graceful in the day time and exquisitely lit at night, each of Amsterdam’s bridges have their own beautiful story to share.
Explore the bridges of Amsterdam on foot or join one of the canal cruises and to take a look from the water. Get your tickets here.