Amsterdam Cycle Route 5: city cross-section, new nature, heritage town

This cycle route follows the historic road out of the city to the east, and crosses the Amsterdam-Rhine Canal to the ‘heritage town’ Weesp. Return through the failed housing projects, and the new retail/entertainment zone, in south-east Amsterdam. 40 km, 4 hours. Revised June 2017.

Recommended cycle map: the ANWB Fietskaart Noord-Holland Zuid (Amsterdam & Kennemerland), which costs € 9. The map is nr. 13 in the ANWB Fietskaart series, the scale is 1:50 000, and all the cycle routes here are within the map area. There are two specialised map shops in Amsterdam: Pied à Terre (Overtoom 135-137), and A la Carte (Ferdinand Bolstraat 147).

 

start at the Waag, or weigh-house, a castle-like building on the Nieuwmarkt square. It was originally built in 1448 as a city gate, in the earliest city wall.

De Waag,Amsterdam
go into Konings straat, the street beside Café Stevens, and go straight on.

at the end, cross the bridge over the Oude Schans canal. The tower visible left is the Montelbaanstoren – first built in 1516, as a defensive tower.

Oude Schans

after the bridge, turn right, and immediately left, into Nieuwe Batavier straat.

turn first left along the Nieuwe Uilenburger straat. This neighbourhood is an island, Uilenburg, once a notorious slum. Pass right a row of old warehouses, with the names of German cities.

Uilenburg

cross an iron girder bridge, on into Peper straat. At the end, turn right along Prins Hendrik kade.

pass over the IJ-tunnel access road – the tunnel entrance is under the green NEMO building.

at the next corner, turn right along the canal Schippers gracht, toward the iron girder lifting bridge. (There is no street name sign on this corner).

Entrepotdok Amsterdam

cross the iron bridge, step off your bike, and walk into the arched gate marked Entrepot-Dok, on your right.

Beside the gate is the former Koffiehuis van den Volksbond – originally an alcohol-free coffee-house, built by a 19th-century temperance association.

inside the gate, turn left onto the quay of the former Entrepot dock basin, an early-industrial extension of the Amsterdam port (1827-1840).

At that time, ships reached the North Sea through the former Zuider Zee (now enclosed by the 1932 Afsluitdijk). Although the North Sea is only 25 km to the west, cutting through the dunes only became feasible in the second half of the 19th century. After the North Sea Canal opened in 1876, port development shifted to the western edge of the city. The Entrepot-Dok was by that time already obsolete. The warehouses on this side survived, and were in use for storage until the 1980’s. Their conversion into expensive apartments was one of the first dockland gentrification projects in Amsterdam. The entire eastern dock zone is now an up-market housing / professional area, and gentrification is underway in the western docks also.

continue along the quayside: the old warehouses form a 400 m block. Inside, the original structure has been cut away, to create interior courtyards.

pass a preserved dock crane, then (across the dock) a ‘savanna’ extension of Artis Zoo. The architects intended the gnus and zebras to graze at the waterside, but they prefer to huddle at the back.

Dock basin Entrepotdok

cross an old swing bridge, the lock basin here is the access to Entrepot-Dok. Pass 1840’s warehouses converted to expensive apartments, the calender block or Kalenderpanden – each unit is named after a month.

continue along the quayside, pass new apartments, and go up the wooden ramp with metal railings, to the Sarphati straat, the route of tram line 10.

The long block across the street is a former barracks, built on the orders of Napoleon – the Netherlands was under French control for 18 years. Renamed the Oranje Nassau Kazerne after the return of the House of Orange, it is part of a cluster of military uses in the east of Amsterdam.

cross the road, and go through the door with the name Oranje-Nassau, at the centre of the long facade.

Oranje-Nassue kazerne

go straight on, and cross the footbridge: the canal here is the former moat outside the city walls, the Singel gracht.

go straight across the road, toward nr. 16, the first house of the Pieter Vlaming straat.

go along this street, i.e. go past nr 16, 18, 22 and so on. This was a low-income area, with a largely immigrant population. The 19th-century houses were gentrified in 2007-2009, by eviction and renovation.

after 150 m turn right into the Dapper straat. This is a street market, one of the classic street markets of Amsterdam: you may have to step off and walk.

The street is famous in the Netherlands through a poem, the kind that everyone learns at school: De Dapperstraat by J. C. Bloem. It is painted on the facade of nr. 32.

at the etos shop, turn right along Eerste van Swinden straat. At the end of this street, turn left along Linnaeus straat, the route of tram 9.

This is an exit road from Amsterdam: the housing will get younger, as you cycle out of the city.

cycle on along Linnaeus straat, past a 19th-century urban park (Oosterpark). Further on, pass under the rail viaduct (the line to Utrecht).

after the HEMA store, you cross a bridge over a canal. This is the ring canal of the polder Watergraafsmeer – now also the name of the neighbourhood.

cycle down from the bridge, along Middenweg. The Watergraafsmeer polder is a former lake, and it is 5 metres lower than the surrounding areas.

pass a park on the right. The office towers, visible behind the park, are at Amstel Station. You will pass them on the return route.

pass the 18th-century country house Frankendael, with its sculptured fountain. The Watergraafsmeer lake was reclaimed around 1630, originally as farmland.

Frankendael 2015

continue along Midden weg, past interwar and 1950’s housing. Tram 9 here follows the route out of the city, originally used in 1881 by the steam tram to  Hilversum.

cross the Kruis laan (at traffic lights). This is the centre of the polder, where its two axes meet.

‘Middenweg’ means middle road, ‘Kruislaan means’ transverse road. The small canal immediately after the traffic lights is one of the original drainage canals.

go straight on, past the eastern municipal cemetery: note that it is raised, to keep the graves clear of the ground water.

200 m after the corner of the cemetery (at nr. 374), cross the tram line, using the separate traffic lights for bikes. On the other side, go straight on, into Wembley laan.

cycle along Wembley laan, past new housing: it is built on the site of the old Ajax stadium. At the end of the cycle path, turn right along Radio weg, a cycle path beside sports fields.

Ring motorway A10

cross a new cycle bridge over the ring motorway A10, and then a smaller bridge, over the ring canal of the Watergraafsmeer polder. You are now in Diemen, a separate municipality, population 27 000.

go straight on from the bridge, on the new ‘cycle street’. It is surfaced as a cycle path, but cars can use it.

continue along the curving cycle path, between 1960’s housing. The original street layout was removed: the cycle path and the small park are new.

pass the rear entrance of the local shopping centre, Diemerplein. At the end of the curving cycle path, turn right, past the front of the shops. (This street is the Ouddiemer laan, no sign here).

pass left the local cultural centre, and the town hall: this is the centre of Diemen.

The first village was originally located at the mouth of the river Diem, further north. It was largely destroyed by flood in 1422, and the village shifted south. In the 18th century, its population shifted again, to an advantageous location beside the trekvaart (towpath canal) to Weesp. The canal opened in 1638, and until 1893, it was the main shipping route from Amsterdam to the Rhine, via the river Vecht and Utrecht. The trekvaart system was the best transport infrastructure in pre-railway Europe. The path beside the trekvaart became the main road out of Amsterdam to the east, the 1874 rail line ran roughly parallel to it, and later the motorway as well. Diemen now has an excess of transport infrastructure, and its population increased tenfold between 1910 and 1990.

after the shops, turn left onto the Prinses Beatrix laan. After another 300 m, at the school / day care, go right along the Prins Bernhard laan.

at the end, you are back at the route of tram 9: turn left along the cycle path (You don’t need to cross the road). Pass the terminal loop of the tram line, go straight on.

pass new housing: the area is being redeveloped. Before the motorway was built, this was the main road out of Amsterdam.

further on, continue on a new cycle path. Pass on the left (opposite Texaco) a Napoleonic earthen battery (1806 – 1810).

carefully cross the access road for the A1 motorway: go straight on.

Visible left is the 4-track rail line to Almere and to Amersfoort, the eastern Netherlands, and Berlin. The Amersfoort line was built relatively late, in 1874: until then traffic to Germany went via Utrecht.

pass (right) the Claudia Sträter warehouse, the last building along the old main road, and the edge of the continuous built-up area of Amsterdam. You are about 10 km from the start.

follow the cycle path into the park, Diemerbos. At the car park, turn right along the cycle path, follow the cycle sign for Weesp.

This is one of the new generation of parks on former agricultural land, often referred to as Nieuwe Natuur, New Nature. All over the EU, farm land is being withdrawn from production, even in densely populated regions.

Diemerbos

continue 700 m to the next cycle sign, and turn left, sign for Amsterdam-IJburg. At the next corner, the cycle path splits: turn right, sign for Weesp.

the path bends left, and you pass under four motorway bridges, part of the A9 / A1 motorway junction. Continue along the path, in the direction of Weesp (you pass two more cycle signs).

this path ends at a T-junction: you can see an arched railway bridge on your left.  Turn left, toward the bridge, cycle sign for Weesp.

approaching the rail bridge, cycle up to the dike of the Amsterdam-Rhine Canal. The present canal is an enlarged version of the 1893 Merwede canal.

A route to the Rhine through narrow rivers and canals existed since the late middle Ages. It was first created by the canalisation of the Smal Weesp, which you pass later, and a canal south of Utrecht. The 17th-century towpath canals shortened the route to Weesp. The Merwede canal avoided the small rivers, and ran directly to a main channel of the Rhine. It was enlarged in the 1930’s and again in the 1960’s, and renamed. The present ‘Amsterdam-Rhine Canal’ passes through the suburbs of Utrecht, and joins the main channel of the Rhine at Tiel.

pass under the bridge, and turn left at the cycle sign, direction Weesp. You first cycle away from the bridge, but then the cycle path makes a U-turn, back to the bridge.

cross the four-track railway bridge. You have a good view over the flat countryside – with good visibility, the Gooi ridge forms the horizon to the east.

Muiderspoorbrugafter the bridge, the path follows the rail line, as it drops toward Weesp station. The land on the left is the Bloemendaler polder, reclaimed in 1555.

sources: settlement and landscape history
for Amsterdam and the region in general:
Atlas Amsterdam. 1999. Bussum: THOTH
C. Dijkstra, M. Reitsma, A Rommerts.
for all other settlements the provincial survey
Monumenten Inventarisatie Project Noord-Holland
Series published by the Provincie Noord-Holland.

1 km after the bridge, turn right into Weesp under the rail bridges, into a light-industry area.

Weesp station is only 15 minutes from Amsterdam Centraal Station, so the town (18 000 inhabitants) is in effect a suburb, part of the growth zone outside the ring motorway. Most industrial employment arrived after the Second World War, but the industrial tradition started in the Middle Ages: first cloth, then beer around 1600, then distilleries in the 17th and 18th century, and finally chocolate. Weesp in the late 19th century had a mono-industrial structure: half the population was dependent on the Van Houten chocolate factory. After a long decline it closed in the 1970’s, but its vitamin department formed the basis of the present chemical industry in Weesp.

go straight on for 1 km, past flats on the left, industry and car sales on the right. Just before the Tinq petrol station, most traffic turns off right, but you go straight on: be careful here.

at the end of this street, go toward the light-blue 3-storey houses, visible ahead right, across the road. Go toward the sculpture in the form of a wind-surf sail. The semi-circle of blue houses encloses a harbour.

turn left at the ‘sail’, along the access road. At nr 5, turn left onto Korte Stammerdijk. This road and path take you along a canal, toward the centre of Weesp.

This is a canalised river, the Smal Weesp – part of the old shipping route from Amsterdam to the Rhine, via the Vecht river and Utrecht.

Smal Weesp

after 400 m pass a windmill, Molen ‘t Haantje – the yellow superstructure is a replica, built in 2003. Continue into the older part of Weesp.

stay on this side of the canal, continue along Herengracht, past the church. (The church spire burned out in November 2016).

The other bank of the canal is the old town quayside: many small towns were accessible for shipping (and have similar heritage quaysides).

Weesp quayside

at the end of the Herengracht there is a lock in the canal: turn right here, over the lifting bridge.

The first lock here was built in 1564, where the Smal Weesp joins the Vecht river. Weesp originated in the 11th or 12th century on the higher ground – just 2 m higher – near the confluence of these two rivers.

continue along the Hoogstraat, a gentrified waterside street. After 300 m turn left, across the wooden lifting bridge.

Fort Ossenmarkt, Weesp

on the other side, keep to the right of the circular fort at Ossenmarkt. It was built in 1861, and later incorporated into a defence line, the Stelling van Amsterdam.

continue past the fort, on across a bridge. The overgrown ruins of 18th-century bastions are visible left and right.

Weesp was originally controlled by the Bishops of Utrecht, but was conquered by the Counts of Holland. They fortified it as a border town, at first a defence against Utrecht, and it retained a defensive function until the Second World War. It formed part of three successive defensive lines, the Holland Water Line in the 17th century, and the New Holland Water Line and the Stelling Van Amsterdam in the 19th century.

on the other side of the bridge, turn right (follow the sign ‘Fort Uitermeer’). Visible across the river, after a bend, are the two main windmills of Weesp, De Eendracht and De Vriendschap.

this is the end of the outward section of this route, and conveniently there is a picnic bench here.

Molens Weesp

to start the return route turn back, and go back past the circular fort.

cross the wooden lifting bridge again, and this time go straight into the alley, between nr. 47 and nr. 48. Go on to the end, and turn right along Nieuwstraat.

pass right (nr 41) the 1776 Town Hall, now the local museum. Opposite it are the present municipal offices, Stadskantoor.

Nieuwstraat Weesp

pass the late-mediaeval church (1462). At the end of Nieuwstraat, at Shoarma De Mazzel, turn left into Slijk straat. (It has an ice cream salon, and a baker).

at the end of Slijk straat, cross the canal bridge, but not the lifting bridge. Go straight on, along Binnenveer and Buitenveer.

pass the traffic lights: you are again on the bank of the Smal Weesp, this time on the southern bank, opposite the yellow windmill.

Molen Haantje Weesp

pass the enclosed harbour, on the opposite bank. These are the same 3-storey houses you passed earlier, but the water frontage is a different colour.

continue along the bank of the canal: ahead you can now see an arched road bridge. The road bends, and you are on the bank of the Amsterdam-Rhine Canal.

The arched bridge carries the provincial highway (N236) to/from Hilversum. It was built around 1930, one of the first roads in the Netherlands built specifically for motor traffic between cities.

first go under the arched bridge, then turn left, up the cycle path (cycle sign for Amsterdam). Then make a U-turn towards the bridge, again follow the cycle sign for Amsterdam.

cross the Amsterdam-Rhine Canal: visible right is the rail bridge, which you crossed earlier. Go on downhill, to the small village of Driemond (part of the Amsterdam municipality).

at the edge of Driemond, cross the bridge, and then turn left along the bank of the river Gein.

Construction work, summer 2017. The main bridge is being rebuilt, use the temporary bridge for cyclists, and turn left along the riverbank.

continue along the Gein through a deceptively rural landscape, with working farms. You are now in the Province of Utrecht.

The Province of Utrecht protects this landscape: if it was annexed to Amsterdam, it would soon be built over. Only rigid planning controls can prevent erosion by suburbanisation here, and many of the farms are already gentrified.

Gein, Driemond

pass right, at nr 59, a small former Sunday School (Eben Haëzer).

It is not very old – about 90 years to judge by the style – but the rural society of Christian farmers which produced it, has disappeared since then.

at nr 54 turn away from the river, along a cycle path through the fields. You can not see the built-up area yet.

pass some trees on the right, and then the first houses of Amsterdam. The housing is a sharp urban edge – in this case determined by the provincial boundary, at the ditch left of the path.

One of the central issues in Dutch planning is whether to preserve such boundaries: if market forces were allowed to operate, there would be houses left of the path within 6 months.

100 m after the first house, turn right along the cycle path, into the housing. Follow the green sign with white letters, direction W.C. ‘t Gein.

This is Amsterdam Zuidoost, the south-eastern extension of Amsterdam, with about 100 000 residents. It is strongly socially and ethnically differentiated (for instance, almost all Ghanaian immigrants live here). It includes the most notorious failed housing projects in the Netherlands, built in the late 1960’s and the 1970’s. They were originally known as Bijlmermeer or Bijlmer, after the polder in which they were built. However their reputation became so bad, that the name was abandoned in favour of the neutral ‘Zuidoost’ (South-East). The 2-storey terraces and 4-storey blocks are a reaction against the slab-block modernist architecture, which you pass later.

500 m on, turn left along another cycle path, again following the direction W.C. ‘t Gein. (WC means Winkel Centrum, shopping centre).

cycle on, along a strip of open space between the houses: you follow this path for 1 km, almost to the Reigersbos metro station.

the cycle path ends at shops, in front of a Jumbo supermarket. Turn right here, into the local shopping street.

On some days there is a street market, and you must step off your bike. The public is ethnically mixed, although some parts of Zuidoost have almost no ethnic Dutch residents.

pass under the viaduct of metro station Reigersbos. At the next cycle path crossing (at the Boni supermarket), turn left.

this cycle path ends at a T-junction with another cycle path: turn right, direction ‘metro AMC’.

continue past local shops, following the cycle sign for ‘Arena’. About 600 m after the shops, you approach the A9 link motorway.

Diversion: the former underpass is closed, during construction of a motorway tunnel. Turn right. At the next cycle sign, turn left (sign Doorgaand Verkeer). Go under the motorway, go over a temporary bridge above the construction site, and then turn left to go back to the main cycle path.

you enter a zone of 11-storey gallery flats, most of them in a hexagonal pattern, an icon of failed urban planning of the 1960’s and 1970’s.

Abcouderpad   Galerijflat Zuidoost

In 1999, the borough council and the local housing association decided to demolish most of the blocks, and build low-rise owner-occupied housing. The intended ‘ethnic cleansing’ failed however, since few white people would ever consider buying a house here. Many infill projects have been built in the original zone of slab blocks, which had a low overall density.

600 m after the motorway, you pass an infill block on the left, a long block called Hoptille.

Hoptille became notorious as a sink block, made uninhabitable by a deliberate concentration of ‘problem cases’. It was cleared and renovated – the standard response to such problems. If it happens again, the response is almost always demolition. On the right the slab blocks have been reconstructed, with a pseudo-street on the ground floor.

continue toward the angled shapes of a ‘ecological’ office building: the much publicised ‘low energy use’ did not materialise. Go on under this building, into the main shopping centre of Zuidoost.

in the shopping centre, turn first left toward the station, after Kruidvat but before Lidl. Step off your bike – zero-tolerance police here.

Centrum Zuidoost   Station Arena

pass under a viaduct and an office block: you can cycle again. Ahead is the new metro and train station, on the Amsterdam-Utrecht line.

pass under the station viaducts, and go straight on, along the boulevard.

The old station was demolished section by section, while new viaducts were built above it. Although you can now simply walk under it, the station is a social, ethnic and economic divide. On the other side is a development zone of regional significance, equalled only by Schiphol airport. Its centrepiece is the 50 000-seat stadium Amsterdam ArenA. It replaced the old Ajax stadium, but a stadium is no longer simply a sport facility. Here it is the core of a shopping/ entertainment zone, in what was already the largest office employment zone in Amsterdam.

Office zone Arena

at the end of the Boulevard, after Perry Sport, turn right. Pass under two road viaducts which enter the stadium.

after the viaducts, go straight on, over the bridge with the white metal railings. What looks like a road, is the cycle path.

pass a roundabout, and continue along the road away from the stadium. At the main road (Holterberg weg), just before the traffic lights, turn right toward Amsterdam.

pass under new rail viaducts, for trains toward Schiphol Airport. Continue toward Amsterdam, straight on along Spakler weg. Pass under the ring motorway.

   Sewage pump Amsterdam

after the motorway, pass under the viaducts of a three-way metro junction. The rounded metallic building is a sewage pump.

continue toward the office towers at Amstel Station. The nearest, Mondriaan, almost hides the Rembrandt Tower, the highest in Amsterdam.

cross the cable-lifted bridge, and then go straight on, onto the cycle path, diagonally between the towers. (Don’t turn under the railway bridge).

Rembrandt Toren   HvA, Station Amsterdam Amstel

pass (right) the Hogeschool van Amsterdam – Hogeschool is the equivalent of the former British polytechnics. They are allowed to call themselves ‘universities’, but only outside the Netherlands.

Behind it is Amstel Station, built in the 1930’s as the southern gateway station of Amsterdam – a function it never fully acquired. Now it is one of several peripheral stations with clusters of office employment.

continue along the riverside road Weesperzijde: this route now follows the Amstel river back to the centre.

pass (left) the Berlage bridge: here, Canadian troops entered Amsterdam in 1945. Continue along Weesperzijde: car traffic is concentrated on the opposite bank.

Weesperzijde   Hermitage Amsterdam

at the Ruysch straat, cross the tram line, continue past grander 19th-century riverside houses. Cycle through a tunnel under a bridge approach road, and pass the Amstel Hotel, the most prestigious in the city.

at the corner of the hotel, turn diagonally left, to rejoin the riverside street. Here it simply called ‘Amstel’.

at the 19th-century bridge with lanterns, the Blauwe Brug, the Amstel river bends west (left). Ahead is Amstel 1 – the Town Hall and Opera complex, the end point of this route.

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About cycleroutes

Cycle routes and cycling in Amsterdam.
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One Response to Amsterdam Cycle Route 5: city cross-section, new nature, heritage town

  1. Pingback: Amsterdam cycle routes – list | Amsterdam cycle routes

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