Amsterdam Cycle Route 2: dikes, heritage, and suburban landscape

This cycle route follows the mediaeval coastline and sea dike of the IJ estuary, through the mediaeval settlements of Spaarnwoude and Spaarndam. 28 km and return by train, 3-4 hours, or 5 hours if cycling back. Revised March 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 Westermarkt in Amsterdam, between the tram stop and the Westerkerk church.

Westerkerk, CC image in HDR by Max Bisschop

cross the bridge over the Prinsengracht, and go straight on along Rozengracht. The name ‘gracht’ means this was originally a canal – it was filled in during the 19th century.

at the end of Rozengracht, go straight on past the fire station, and over the Singelgracht canal into De Clercqstraat.

A ‘singel’ is originally the moat outside the city walls: in the 19th century most city walls were demolished, and the singels became desirable residential areas for the professional classes. On the map, the curves in the Amsterdam Singelgracht indicate the location of the former bastions.

at Bilderdijkstraat cross tram line 3, a circular route along the late 19th century quarters of Amsterdam.

continue along De Clercqstraat: it curves to the right, and crosses (by a lifting bridge) the main barge canal through Amsterdam.

go straight on, following the tram line. 400 m after the bridge, the tram line divides: again go straight on, along Jan Evertsenstraat.

cross the Admiralengracht, a broad canal, and continue to Mercatorplein – a renovated 1920’s square, the showpiece of local urban renewal.

This is an area of high immigrant population, which saw many urban renewal projects over the years. It remained an unfashionable low-income area until recently, but is now being gentrified.

at the traffic lights, turn right along Hoofdweg. The street is lined with 1920’s housing with an imposing facade.

Hoofdweg, near Mercatorplein, Amsterdam

at the next traffic lights, turn left, along the Jan van Galen straat.

After a few side streets, you pass the boundary of the pre-war housing: everything beyond here was built after the Second World War.

cross the ring motorway A10: the area around the junction is being redeveloped. There are long-term plans to put the A10 in tunnel through this area.

Ring motorway A10 Amsterdam at Jan van Galenstraat.

go straight on, and pass under the viaducts of the ring rail and ring metro lines, at the metro station Jan Van Galenstraat. Tram 13 now runs in the central reservation.

continue along Burgemeester Röell straat, the axis of the first post-war extension of Amsterdam. These neighbourhoods are called the westelijke tuinsteden, or ‘western garden cities’.

They do not have the low-rise houses of the original English model. There are 1960’s slab blocks on the left, but most of the rest is 1950’s terraces and 5-storey blocks (without lift, of course). These suburbs were built for an ethnically homogeneous, working-class population. They are the architecture of an idealised 1950’s Netherlands, where the family was the unquestioned basic social unit. The family housing is once again inhabited by families, but now they are largely Moroccan. The authorities are demolishing their rented housing, replacing it with expensive private-sector apartments – a policy of both social and ethnic cleansing.

at the roundabout, go straight on – still on Burgemeester Röell straat. The housing is so typical of 1950’s urban planning, that it could be an architectural museum.

Axis westelijke tuinsteden Amsterdam, tram 13

continue on the cycle path alongside the tram line, to the tram terminal loop.

go toward the front entrance of the 16-storey grey-brick tower. At the Albert Heijn supermarket, turn right along the cycle path, passing the Vomar supermarket.

Along the path is a line of new apartment blocks, built on the site of a planned tangential motorway. The infill development was the first step in the ‘regeneration’ of the 1950’s suburbs here.

at the end of the cycle path, turn right, past the new school, ‘t Koggeschip. Just after the school, turn left, along Jacob Cabeliau straat.

at the traffic lights, cross the main Amsterdam-Haarlem road, straight on toward the port area (cycle sign for Spaarnwoude).

after 1 km turn left, just before the first buildings. Follow the cycle sign for Spaarnwoude, onto a long straight cycle path.

cycle on past a light industry / warehouse area: the grassed area between the cycle path and the buildings is a pipeline corridor.

after the last buildings, pass under the new A5 motorway, through a new cycle underpass.

This is the successor to the tangential motorway plans of the 1950’s. In front of you is a wide canal, planned to link the port basins to inland shipping routes. It was never completed. The building on your right is a pumping station: beside it, there is space available for a future shipping lock.

Gemaal naast Westrandweg, Amsterdam.

from the underpass, turn left, at first alongside the motorway. The cycle path then bends right toward the village of Halfweg, with the prominent silos of the former CSM sugar-beet refinery.

pass the first houses of Halfweg, and continue along the wide cycle path on the dike (and say hello to the small black cat, if it is still sitting in the middle of the path).

turn right onto the wooden footbridge (sign for Spaarnwoude), and then left at the end of the bridge, passing a channel lined with houseboats.

after the houseboats, go straight on, passing a park on the right.

after a bend in the road, the former sugar factory is in front of you – the twin silos have been converted to offices. Cross to the other side of the road, following the ’28’ signs, and continue to the rail line.

don’t cross the railway: turn right just before it, following the sign for Vinkebrug. Pass a few older houses, part of the village of Halfweg.

after 500 m, the landscape opens up: you are on the mediaeval sea dike of the IJ estuary.

The coastal dunes and the IJmuiden steelworks are visible ahead. The land on the right was all reclaimed from the estuary in 1875. The metal objects on a concrete base (left) are gun mounts, part of a 1927 anti-aircraft battery.

stay on this dike, go straight on, follow the sign for cycle junction 30.

about 1 km further, stop beside the bridge over the small canal (right). Near the corner is a stone pillar, one of the old dike markers.

The mediaeval dike is irregular, following the contour of the old estuary shore. The land on the left is mediaeval reclamation, former peat bog, now about 2 m under sea level. The dike road is about 3 m above sea level. The grassed areas in the park (right) are the original estuary floor, 3 to 4 m below sea level. Beside the dike is an intermediate canal, with a separate water level. It was built during the reclamation: separate intermediate drainage is necessary in a multiple-polder system.

continue along the dike. The intermediate canal curves away, and between it and the main dike are former outer meadows.

Low outer dikes were built in estuaries and rivers, to enclose summer pastures. No houses were built there, because the land was usually flooded in winter. This outer dike lost its function, when the whole estuary was reclaimed in 1875.

further on, the low outer dike is visible 400 m to the right.

The pasture land between the main dike and the outer dike is still called De Uiterdijken, the ‘outer-dike lands’ – about 1 m below mean sea level. The reclaimed estuary behind the outer dike is now the port zone.

pass (left) a small lake or pond, then turn right, down from the dike. Go to the small cluster of farm buildings.

Inlaagpolder, Spaarndam.

5 m before the first house, you pass the remains of the low outer dike. Stop at the brick building with arched windows

This is a pumping station, built 1879. The concrete exit channel (right) is the source of the intermediate drainage canal. It has a blue metal scale showing water level – usually about 60 cm under NAP (mean sea level). All the components of the ex-estuary landscape are visible here: the main sea dike, the outer pastures, the remains of the low outer dike, the intermediate canal, and its retaining dike. All the land toward the port is the former estuary bed, about 2 m lower.

turn back to the main dike, and turn right to continue. The next section is straight, it is a cut-off dike.

On the right is the Inlaag Polder, a promontory in the former estuary. Its mediaeval dike was vulnerable, so a higher cut-off dike was built at the base of the promontory. The mediaeval dike itself follows a meander in the ancient channel of the IJ river, once a main channel of the Rhine.

pass under the A9 motorway. Cycle back up to the dike, and then turn left, following the sign for Spaarnwoude.

at the next sign, turn right toward the church. The hamlet Spaarnwoude is a relict of early mediaeval settlement, although none of the present farm buildings are very old.

go through the gate, into the walled enclosure around the church.

The church tower dates from around 1300, a church existed in 1063, the village itself around 1000. The churchyard is artificially raised, partly as a refuge against flooding. But look around: you can see that the land near the church is slightly raised anyway. This is the reason for the location of Spaarnwoude: a ‘strandwal’ or relict coastal dune aligned SSW – NNE. The extra 2 metres (and sandy soil) meant the site was much more habitable than the surrounding peat bog. In general the coastal dunes, and the relict dune ridges, determined the early mediaeval settlement pattern in the region: a relict dune runs under the centre of Haarlem. The Spaarnwoude strandwal is the furthest inland – south-east of here, it was peat bog all the way to Utrecht.

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.
Landgoederen van Zuid-Kennemerland’, Stichting NCM, 1984.

leave the churchyard and continue along the cycle path: follow the sign for cycle route junction 15. Pass behind the whitewashed farmhouse and the cattle shed, toward the village of Spaarndam.

Looking back at Spaarnwoude

Looking back at Spaarnwoude

at the end of the path, turn right (cycle sign for Spaarndam). Then cycle up to the dike road, and turn left toward Spaarndam.

80 m after the turn, pass the Rijnlandshuis (built 1641), used by the officials in charge of the dike maintenance and drainage. Opposite it is a former quayside on the IJ estuary – the gardens of the houses were once tidal water.

cross the bridge into the village core of Spaarndam, passing over the lock which gives access to the Spaarne river.

Here there is still some open water on the right, originally the wide estuary. Spaarndam was a fishing village at a strategic location: the dike of the south IJ bank crosses the Spaarne, and a sea lock was built for shipping to Haarlem. The lock was fully rebuilt in 2010.

pass left a small statue: the legendary Hans Brinker, the little boy who put his finger in the dike. In fact the ‘legend’ is a late 19th century romantic fake, written in the United States.

after the statue, on the left, you look down into the late-mediaeval harbour basin surrounded by old houses. Here, the road crosses an older and smaller lock, the access to the harbour.

Harbour Spaarndam.

50 m further, cross another bridge (built over flood gates), then cross the remains of yet another small lock. It is now filled and paved, with replica lock gates.

after the last houses, use the separate cycle path. The large ‘dike’, about 30 m after the start of the cycle path, has concrete access doors…

It is not a dike, but part of a complex of bunkers which now comes into view. They were built in the First World War, against a possible British invasion of Germany through Holland. Most of the fortifications around Spaarndam are older: they form the Positie van Spaarndam, part of the complex defences of Amsterdam built between 1880 and the end of the First World War.

continue along the cycle path at field level: across the fields is the northern edge of Haarlem.

after 400 m, stop at a cluster of trees with a small brick building (a pumping station). Go up the steps, on the right of the path. Cross the dike-top road, into a minor access road, going towards the housing.

turn first left, into West laan.

at the old farm shed, turn right along Dammers weg. You cycle between the lake park, and the housing development Velserbroek.

This is typical of the large planned housing developments at the edge of Dutch cities, the VINEX locations. VINEX is the abbreviation for the Fourth Policy Document on Spatial Planing Appendix (VIerde Nota ruimtelijke ordening EXtra). As the name suggests, this was a temporary measure to meet growth pressures until the Fifth National Spatial Plan. VINEX has come to mean ‘bulk suburban housing’, and Velserbroek is a perfect example. (The Fifth Plan was never approved: the Balkenende government abandoned national plans in 2004).

rand-velserbroek

after the 4th apartment block, turn left along Galle Promenade, a pedestrian/cycle axis along the development (sign for Centrum).

Although the houses along the ‘promenade’ are the more expensive, this is not an upper-middle-class development. Velserbroek is in social terms a “reverse ghetto”: few unemployed, few immigrants – a ‘white flight’ suburb.

galle-promenade

continue along the length of Galle Promenade, to the local shopping centre. Step off your bike there, and go straight on.

at the end of the Galle Promenade, at the bank, go toward the building with the round wooden roof, Het Kruispunt.

This is a small church, a ‘religious centre’ shared by catholics and protestants. (If Velserbroek had been built in the 1950’s, they would have had large separate churches).

pass to the left of the church, and immediately turn right, into Lange Maad. This is an older section of Velserbroek, the trees are already half-grown.

at the end, turn left.

The former shoreline of the IJ estuary is behind the motorway. 1500 metres north of here is the site of a Roman fort, an outpost on the bank of the ancient IJ channel. (The Roman imperial border – limes – is further south, along the line Leiden – Utrecht – Nijmegen).

at the end of this road, turn right, and then left onto Broekeroog. After 100 m turn right into the Hofgeesterweg, between sports fields.

200 m on, there are two gate-posts with the faint inscription Het Huis ‘t Spyk. The gate, and a low earthen wall, are the only remains of a former country house, with formal garden (laid out circa 1680).

This is the eastern edge of a cluster of over 50 mainly 17th and 18th century country houses around Haarlem. You are leaving the landscape of reclaimed peat-bog (grassland with drainage ditches). Ahead is an area of older settlement – naturally drained land along the edge of the coastal dunes, with sandy soils.

turn left at the gates (this is also Hofgeesterweg). 600 m on, turn left, following the sign for Velsen-Zuid / IJmuiden.

the road rises: again follow the signs Velsen-Zuid / IJmuiden, and go on over the bridge, over a motorway.

at the end of the bridge, the cycle path switches to the other side of the road. At the cycle sign go right, again toward Velsen-Zuid / IJmuiden.

cross the Haarlem-Alkmaar railway: here it descends into the Velser tunnel under the North Sea Canal.

The tunnel was built in 1957, and the rail line re-routed: originally it crossed the canal on a swing bridge further west.

200 m further, turn left at a change in the cultural landscape: the country house Beeckestijn. Go through the gate, and go past the house, into the large grounds. Step off your bike on gravel paths.

Beeckestijn-huis

koetshuis-beeckestijn beeckestijn-statue
behind the house is a formal avenue with four statues, leading to an ornamental pool: on either side are typical features of an 18th-century estate.

The geometrical garden nearest the house dates from about 1720, behind the pool is an extension in early landscape style (circa 1770). Note that the soil is now sandy: the beginnings of the dunes, or more accurately, the remains of a former coastline. There are low dune remnants 200 m behind the pool.

at the pool, there are stone benches to sit and rest.

turn back, leave Beeckestijn by the same gate, and turn left: use the cycle path. This is a busy road leading to the main Amsterdam-IJmuiden road.

go straight on for 800 m, and then cross the main road. Use the cycle crossing! Go toward the petrol station, and then turn left, follow cycle signs for Beverwijk / IJmuiden.

200 m further, at the older houses, you reach the former village of Oud-Velsen. At Kerkesingel enter the village, through the white-painted gates.

plein-oud-velsen

continue past the 12th century church (Engelmunduskerk), in the preserved core of the old village of Velsen. The name ‘Felison’ is recorded in 722 – the oldest historically recorded settlement in the region.

after the church pass another white-painted gate, on into Torenstraat. After 30 m go right into Hoofdbuurt straat.

oud-velsen kerk-oud-velsen

suddenly the village ends: you are on the bank of the North Sea Canal, looking at the power station on the other side.

This must be one of the sharpest landscape transitions in the Netherlands. To the right the ventilation towers of the first motorway tunnel under the canal, to the left the steelworks and the IJmuiden sea lock complex. The carved stone slab shows the successive canal expansions, which cut into the village. Across the canal you can see a church behind the industry: the road through Oud-Velsen continues there, cut by the Canal. It is the old main road from Haarlem to Alkmaar, a surfaced highway since 1816. From 1897 to 1924 a steam tram also ran along this road, but it never developed into a major urban axis.

this is the end of the outward section of this route, approx 27 km from the start.

to return to Amsterdam, turn back, past the white gate, the church, and the other white gate. You now have a choice: cycle back (23 km), or take the train (€12 with bike).

to cycle back, first go back along the cycle path, which you used earlier. Pass the petrol station again, and then simply cycle straight on: follow the cycle signs for Amsterdam.

continue alongside the main road to Amsterdam, N202. About 2 km from Oud-Velsen, the road and cycle path follow the North Sea Canal, although most of the time you can’t see it.

about 6 km from Oud-Velsen, cross the bridge at Buitenhuizen. After another 1500 m, the road bends right into the port zone. The cycle path passes under the main road here.

cycle on through the port zone, following the signs for Amsterdam. After the port basins, continue along the Basis weg, Transformator weg, Spaarndammer dijk, Tasman straat, and van Diemen straat.

at the end of van Diemen straat, switch to the two-way cycle path on the other side of the road (along the waterside), and continue to Centraal Station, the end point of this route.

to take the train, turn left at the white gate, along Kerkesingel. After 30 m make a U-turn into the cycle tunnel, follow cycle route number 03.

on the other side, cycle straight on through a park, again follow route 03.

cycle straight on along Driehuizerkerkweg, now following route number 04.

after the sports fields, there are World War II German bunkers hidden among the trees on the right.

In 1944 there were 14 ‘Festungen’ in Hitler’s Atlantikwall, Festung IJmuiden was the most northern. The bunkers are its command centre, Festungskommando Schoonenberg. Opposite Driehuizerkerkweg nr 17 is a command bunker, Regiments Gefechtsstand 117b.

continue along Driehuizerkerkweg, and at the roundabout turn left, onto the Van den Vondel laan. Follow the road sign for Haarlem.

pass another roundabout: turn onto the side road here, parallel to the main road. (The main road dips under the rail line, through an underpass).

250 m after the roundabout is the entrance to Driehuis station. The platform is reached by a low tunnel with steps – there is no lift here.

Trains to Amsterdam run every 30 minutes, the fare is €5,50. You can not take bikes on trains in the evening peak, 16:00 to 18:30. You pay €6,10 extra for your bike, the bike pass remains valid all day. If you have a smart card (OV-chipkaart), you can load the extra payment onto the card.

the trains take 31 minutes to reach Amsterdam Centraal Station, the end point of this route.

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Amsterdam Cycle Route 7: Port, Westzaan and Zaan river

This cycle route passes the west port basins, crosses the North Sea Canal by ferry, through the polder village of Westzaan, to a heritage windmill park on the Zaan river, and back along the still-industrial riverside. 40 km, 4-5 hours. Revised February 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 Haarlemmerplein (square) on the western edge of the historic core of Amsterdam, in front of the Willemspoort, a triumphal arch built in 1840.

go under the railway viaduct, cycling alongside the tramline – this is Plancius straat. The original brick viaduct into Centraal Station was rebuilt for 6 tracks.

100 m further, turn left into Eerste Breeuwers straat, and then immediately turn right into the street between the rows of houses, Houtman straat.

This is a pedestrianised access to 19th-century social housing. At least it was social housing until several years ago: the tenants were evicted for gentrification.

Houtmanstraat

at the end, you are back on Plancius straat. Turn left, and cross the bridge over the canal (Zoutkeetsgracht).

at the end of Plancius straat is the square Zoutkeets plein: turn left, and then right, onto the Houtman kade. This is still recognisably a quayside (‘kade’ = quay). In the side streets is more late-19th-century social housing.

at the end of the Houtman kade, at the busy Van Diemen straat, turn left across the canal. It is the main shipping route through west Amsterdam.

Van Diemenstraat

from the bridge go straight on, along the Tasman straat: a tunnel is under construction next to the road. Behind it, the former timber dock, Houthaven, is being redeveloped.

pass the Albert Heijn supermarket, and continue along the main road, now called Spaarndammer dijk. You are still cycling alongside the tunnel construction site.

at the next traffic lights, turn right. Use the cycle path! This is a temporary road over the tunnel roof, with a temporary cycle path alongside it.

at the end of the temporary cycle path, in front of the Jongeneel warehouse, turn left. This is Haparanda weg, but there is no sign here.

pass a new school (4e Gymnasium), and turn right along Archangel kade. After just 40 m, turn left onto a new cycle path, Zonnehoeks pad, and follow it between allotment gardens and warehouses.

at the end of this path, you are back at the main road: turn right, toward the antenna mast.

pass the Gamma store, and the antenna mast. 30 m after the mast, cross to the other side of the road, and continue on the two-way cycle path there.

pass the Mercuriushaven, a grain dock. After the North Sea Canal was completed in 1876, the port of Amsterdam expanded westward (the historic docks lie east of the centre).

ahead is a motorway viaduct, it takes the ring motorway to the Coen tunnel (under the North Sea Canal). Nearer the viaduct, pass a concrete channel on the left of the cycle path. It carries cooling water, for the power station.

at the motorway junction go straight on, following the cycle sign for Zaanstad. From here, the road is primarily access to the ferry.

The rail line alongside the road is the original route across the North Sea Canal, over a swing bridge. In 1983, the bridge was replaced by a tunnel, and the rail line was relocated further west.

pass the Hemcentrale – the main power station of Amsterdam. It consists of a powder coal unit of 630MW, and a 435MW combined-cycle unit.

300 m on, a viaduct crosses the road, an enclosed conveyor belt carrying coal to the power station, from the Amsterdam Bulk Terminal on the left. Part of it is beside the cycle path: if it is in use, you can hear it clearly.

continue past oil tanks: although Rotterdam dominates oil and bulk traffic, Amsterdam has increased its share of refined fuel traffic. Also on the right, Icova recycling – but you usually smell it before you see it.

1 km on, you reach the ferry landing stage at the North Sea Canal, the ship canal to the port.

The primary function of this ferry is to provide a diversionary route, for dangerous cargoes not allowed in the road tunnel. Diagonally opposite is a white building, the former national Artillery Establishment, Staatsbedrijf der Artillerie-Inrichtingen. It is part of a larger military complex, begun in 1899, strategically located at the former rail bridge over the North Sea Canal.

cross by the ferry (free). On the other side is the provincial highway to Alkmaar, one of the first-generation motor roads in the Netherlands (opened 1934).

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.

take the cycle path away from the ferry, towards Zaandam. Cycle on through the new cycle underpass, with tiled walls.

Tiled cycle tunnel

at the next traffic lights, turn right across the main road, toward the Cafeteria. Then turn left along the waterside road, past the statue and the houseboats. The road bends right, parallel to the harbour.

This is the former port area of Zaandam, once a main timber port. Together with other settlements along the Zaan river, Zaandam was absorbed into Zaanstad municipality in 1974. The municipality has 150 000 inhabitants.

cross the narrow wooden lifting bridge: go straight on, into Czarina straat (Tsarina street).

turn right at the small public garden, the Czaar Peter Plantsoen (Tsar Peter Garden). At the end of the street is the explanation for Zaandam’s Russian connection – the Czaar Peter huisje.

Preserved as a shrine, inside a 19th-century building, is the little wooden house where Tsar Peter the Great stayed in 1697. (Entrance on the other side, open Tuesday-Sunday 10:00 to 17:00). The Tsar came to Zaandam to learn shipbuilding: his visit to Holland and England is an episode of symbolic significance in Russian history. It was an admission that Russia was backward, and needed to learn from the west – a policy opposed at the time, and ever since. Most Russian tourists in the Netherlands visit Zaandam, and so did Vladimir Vladimirovich Putin, Ph.D.

turn back to the Czarina straat, and turn right to continue. This is a low-income neighbourhood, at the edge of the town centre.

pass the rear entrance to Rozenhof, a small shopping centre. The street bends left here into Rozengracht, a paved open space. (Some days there is a street market, and if so, step off your bike).

go on to the end of the street, past the green wooden wall of the new C & A store. Turn right, and suddenly you are in the new city centre of Zaandam.

at the next corner, turn left. Step off your bike, and go up the pedestrian ramp on the right of the small canal, past The Sting store.

This is the heart of the new development, Inverdan. The pedestrian route is raised, to cross the main road toward the station. The building with the Mickey Mouse ‘ears’ is the station entrance. Beside it is the new Town Hall, and on the left the new Inntel hotel. The green gables are a pastiche of the region’s traditional architecture, which you will see later.

zaandam-centrum-gracht Inverdan development Zaandam, and station. inntel-zaandam

at the next corner, at Primark, there is a cycle path crossing. You can get on your bike again: turn left down the path. (A cycle path across the railway is planned, but at present you can only turn left).

at the end, turn right to continue: use the new cycle path. Be careful here – you cross an access road.

cross the main road: use the cycle crossing! On the other side, immediately turn right, and then left, into the cycle tunnel. This layout may change during development: follow the cycle sign for Westerwatering.

cycle through the tunnel under the railway. At the end, it turns 180 degrees, so you are facing back to the station.

SAM_0212

turn left here, along the cycle path, cycle sign for Westerwatering. Turn next left, just after the bus stop, into Blokschaaf – the street name sign is at nr. 121.

go straight on through the new housing, crossing a cycle bridge. After a second cycle bridge, turn left, up to a road bridge (Mandela straat).

at the end turn right, along Westzanerdijk – there is no street name sign here. The street is raised, because it is the mediaeval sea dike of the northern IJ estuary.

There are stepped alleys between the houses, typical for dike settlements. Further on, the historical pattern is more clearly visible. There are sections of canal below the dike on the right, with some older farm buildings, backing directly onto the grazing land. That is the ‘old land’, reclaimed in the Middle Ages. Everything on the left is built on 19th-century polders, reclaimed from the IJ estuary. This pattern is visible at several places in the Amsterdam region: an isolated sea-dike with different landscapes on either side.

pass on the right (between nr. 306 and nr. 312) a small Jewish cemetery. About 700 m further, the pattern of dike / canal / farms is clearer. Several houses have their own entrance bridge across the canal – a typical feature of this region.

pass several weather-boarded buildings in the regional colour Zaan green (Zaans groen). Just after them is a pumping station, Gemaal Overtoom, with buildings on both sides of the road. Stop to look into the pump building on the right, with two electric pumps.

just after the pumping station, cross an old lock, and then continue along the dike road.

Lock, Westzaan.

after another 200 m, turn right into Zuideinde. This is the start of Westzaan, a linear polder settlement.

After the first house right, there is a map. You can see the line of the sea-dike, the straight line of the North Sea Canal, and the linear structure of Westzaan village itself. The village extends 4 km, from the old sea dike northwards. This is exactly the same structure as the village of Oostzaan, on the other side of the Zaan river. Both are aligned parallel to the river, the pattern of mediaeval reclamation of the peat bogs.

cycle on along the long village street. The housing is concentrated at both ends – in the middle there are fewer houses, and some working farms.

Zaan Green house, Westzaan

Several channels cross the village street at right angles. This is part of the mediaeval reclamation pattern: broad channels parallel to the Zaan, villages parallel to the Zaan, smaller ditches and canals at right angles to them both. Even the small channels were used for transport of hay and cattle.

cycle on into the oldest part of Westzaan, Kerkbuurt (the ‘church quarter’). At the centre of the old village, in the middle of the road, is the old town hall.

Town Hall Westzaan

Westzaan was also absorbed into Zaanstad in 1974, and the old town hall is relegated to a heritage wedding location. The inscription above the door is a chronogram – add up the letters which correspond to Roman numerals, and you get the date of construction.

continue along Kerkbuurt: then suddenly the village street is cut by the provincial road (Provinciale weg). Visible on the left, the water tower of Assendelft.

cross the road, and turn right, in the direction of Koog a/d Zaan (= Koog aan de Zaan), along a broad cycle path.

after 700 m, the main road turns right: you cycle straight on, past a windmill. (This is the abandoned route of the provincial road, which was relocated to make a junction with the motorway).

This windmill is a unique paper mill – De Schoolmeester. Before steam engines, wind and turf were the energy source for the early industries of the Zaan region. Open most workdays from 10.00 to 16.00, entrance € 2,50.

Windmill, paper mill De Schoolmeester

the old road stops dead, as it reaches the motorway embankment: cycle on along the path.

On the right, some grassland has been abandoned deliberately to revert to New Nature (a pseudo-natural landscape). The reed-covered marsh, with scrub and low trees, is similar to the original vegetation of the region.

at the end of this cycle path, turn left under the motorway.

pass the regional police headquarters, and turn right at the cycle sign, direction Zaanse Schans.

cycle on toward the Olam Cocoa factory – you may have smelled the cocoa already. At the end of the street are the Amsterdam-Alkmaar railway, and the parallel main road. Together, they form the axis of Zaanstad.

at the traffic lights, cross the main road: use the separate traffic lights for cyclists. On the other side, immediately turn left, along the parallel access road (ignore the sign for Zaanse Schans here).

after 100 m, turn right into Linden laan.

at the end of Linden laan, go straight on into Park straat, not Park laan. The houses get older here.

Parkstraat Zaandijk

at the end of this narrow street, turn right. This is the oldest part of the settlement Zaandijk – as the name implies, it is built on the Zaan river dike.

continue towards the windmill De Bleke Dood – ‘Pale Death’. Just before it, there is a bakery, Het Zaanse Bakkertje, where you can buy something to eat at the Zaanse Schans.

turn left before the windmill, and cross the Zaan river by the new bridge. Use the cycle path! The mixture of heritage and working industry, along the river, is typical of the Zaan region.

turn left at the cycle sign after the bridge, into the Zaanse Schans architectural heritage collection, and cycle on past the row of wooden houses. There is a map at the entrance, by the steps.

This is the prime windmill-and-wooden-house tourist destination in the Amsterdam region. Here almost everything is in Zaan green. The buildings themselves are mostly authentic, but none of them stood here originally. They have all been re-located, renovated, and given tourist uses. Near the entrance, at nr 5, is the ‘first Albert Heijn’ – a replica of Albert Heijn’s grocers shop in Oostzaan, as it was in 1887. In the farm buildings you can sample Dutch cheese, and buy wooden shoes. But continue to the windmills, as all visitors do…

SAM_8320

pass first a mustard mill, then a saw-mill, a paint mill, and an oil mill.

Windmills were not only used for pumping water and milling grain, but as a source of industrial power. Although these mills have been re-located here, the location is authentic. The banks of the Zaan river formed probably the largest proto-industrial concentration in early modern Europe (German: Theorien der Proto-Industrialisierung). It was probably the largest collection of windmills ever constructed – several hundred in the 17th century. Specialised windmills such as sawmills, oilseed mills, paper mills, and hemp mills were concentrated in different locations. The Zaan is still an industrial river, as you will see on the return route.

after you have seen all the windmills, turn back. Back at the entrance, follow the signs for Het Kalf and long-distance route LF 7a, and cross the road. Use the cycle crossing!

on the other side, go on past the factories and sheds. You now detour around an inlet, De Poel. The industry was originally located here for water transport.

at the end of the road, continue on a short cycle path. Again follow the cycle sign for LF 7a, turn right onto a narrow street, with Zaan-green weatherboarded houses.

Zaandam, De Poel

at the end of the street, cross the narrow lifting bridge: from here the whole inlet is visible.

from the bridge, turn right: the road is simply called ‘Kalf’. When you reach a grassed riverbank with trees, opposite the Tate & Lyle starch factory, you leave the inlet, and you are on the bank of the Zaan.

The riverside industry is part of the second industrialisation of the Zaan. In the proto-industrial period (1580-1700), shipbuilding and associated trades were dominant. A long period of decline followed. In the late 19th century the region re-industrialised, processing colonial imports and industrial crops. That gave it the regional smellstarch and cocoa.

continue past the Gerkens Cacao factory. At the next corner (street name is Jonge Abraham), turn back toward the river. Go toward the building with the stylised letters ZOR.

go on past the ZOR or Zaanlandse Olie Raffinarderij BV. (The ‘dead end’ sign is not for cyclists). You are now back on the riverside road: the non-tourist industrial riverside.

pass under the motorway bridge (A8, the one you passed north of Westzaan). After this is more housing: very little of it looks planned.

The riverside mixture contrasts with the usual strong functional separation (‘zoning’). By Netherlands standards, Zaanstad has a very amorphous urban structure. There is industry, 19th-century housing, older wooden heritage houses, and expensive new apartments.

go straight on across a bridge access road, pass another Gerkens Cacao factory, and then go under the rail viaduct of the Zaandam-Purmerend line.

pass another stretch of grassed riverbank with trees. On both banks are new apartments – the probable future of the entire riverside, after the factories have been relocated.

continue under the newest bridge (opened 2006) across the Zaan: the riverside road is now called Oost Zijde.

New bridge Zaan river, Zaandam

The side streets at right angles replicate the older field pattern, itself the product of mediaeval reclamation. The river bank was settled first, the reclamation went inland from there: the alignment of Westzaan is part of the same pattern.

at nr 82, pass an octagonal 19th-century church, opposite new apartments. Just after this church, turn right into a car park, its street name is ‘De Werf’

go to the riverbank, and go left onto the boardwalk along the river. Don’t cycle, but walk along the boardwalk. Visible opposite is the Verkade biscuit factory (1904) – once the largest factory in Zaandam.

at the open space (with children’s play area), turn off the board walk. Back at the street, turn right to continue

pass the church of St. Bonifatius – part of a complex of Catholic religious buildings and schools, built around 1900.

Beside the door is a war monument, thanking Christ the King for preservation in times of war. On the priest’s house (right) is a plaque, commemorating the Catholic resistance group based here during the German occupation. This ‘catholicising’ of the war is probably a reaction to communist influence in the post-war years – the industrial Zaan region was by Dutch standards ‘red’.

at the traffic lights, just after the church, turn right, over the bridge. On the left is the main Zaan river lock.

Beside it are the oldest surviving Zaan locks, with two lock-houses, and a stone coat of arms on each side. This is the approximate site of the original dam in the Zaan, built around 1300. The dam isolated the river from the tidal IJ estuary, and gave Zaandam its name, just like Amsterdam. In both cases, the spelling has changed over the centuries: originally Aemstelredam and Saendam.

sluis-zaan

turn first left after the bridge, at the bus stop, into Dam straat. Go straight on through the square called ‘Dam’.

This is the exact equivalent of “Dam Square” in Amsterdam, which is also simply called ‘Dam’ in Dutch. Both were the main square of the mediaeval settlement, both were located next to the dam in the river, which was the only river crossing in both towns. The undistinguished 19th-century buildings around the square are now cafes: this is the heart of Zaan night-life, such as it is. In the middle of the square is a statue of Tsar Peter, a gift of the last Tsar, Nicholas, in 1911.

go straight on past the statue, out of the square. At the street (Czaar Peter straat), turn left, back to the river.

cross the river again. Beside the locks is the Zaan gemaal, a pumping station which now drains the river – natural flow is no longer sufficient.

raadhuis-zaandam

across the bridge is a prominent white building, the former Town Hall of Zaandam (1848). Pass it, and immediately turn right into Zuiddijk, on the cycle path.

continue along the cycle path, and on through Zuiddijk, ‘south dike’.

This too is a raised sea dike: the tidal estuary was on the right, but the difference in height is most visible on the left. At nr. 220 you cross a lock, access from the estuary to the small canals inland. Many of the houses are small and run-down: toward the end, there is new housing on the harbour side.

the street ends abruptly, at a bridge approach road. Turn right here along the cycle path, past the new apartment tower, onto the bridge.

cross by the new cycle bridge, next to a motorway link road. From the bridge there is a good view of the former Zaan estuary.

haven zaandam

When the North Sea Canal was built, the entire IJ / Zaan estuary was regulated, and ceased to be tidal water. That allowed the development of its banks as a port zone. Housing is now displacing industry here.

200 m after the bridge, make a U-turn, down to the waterside road. Turn right, to go back to the ferry.

pass the entrance to the almost abandoned military complex Algemeen Verdedigingspark – Militair Complex Hembrug.

It was planned as the strategic centre of the Amsterdam defence line, the Stelling van Amsterdam. Most of the buildings date from the First World War. The site is being redeveloped and the buildings auctioned.

pass the last houses of Zaandam. As the channel joins the North Sea Canal, several port basins are visible. There are benches to sit and watch the ships.

the quayside road curves westwards: pass the former ammunition factory. The initials and date are still prominent on the facade (AI 1956 = Artillerie Inrichting 1956).

at the last gate of the complex, you are back at the ferry, where you crossed on the outward route.

The public gate for cyclists is near the ferry. The site is open on weekdays from 07.00 to 19.00 but development is in the early stages, and there is not much to see.

cross by the ferry, and cycle back toward Amsterdam: back past the oil tanks, the power station, the motorway junction, the Mercurius dock, and the antenna mast.

pass the Amsterdam Art Hotel, and then turn next right into Zaan straat. Follow this long street, parallel to the rail line.

after a short section of cycle path, turn right under the rail bridge. At the traffic lights, turn left toward the triumphal arch, to return to Haarlemmer plein, end point of this route.

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Amsterdam cycle route 6: western cross-section of the city

This takes about 3 hours. The CITO map of Amsterdam is recommended – the full city map, not their small city-centre version. There are two specialised map shops in Amsterdam: Pied à Terre (Overtoom 135-137), and A la Carte (Ferdinand Bolstraat 147). Revised June 2017.

 

start at the south entrance to the new cycle tunnel under Centraal Station. Facing the city, turn right, between the mega cycle-rack and the Ibis hotel.

Cycle rack Central station Amsterdamm

at the 12-storey tower beside the Ibis Hotel, cross the tube-arch cycle bridge. On the other side, turn right, through the underpass.

Note the old lock gates in the Singel canal: they once opened into tidal water. Centraal Station was built on an artificial island in the 1880’s.

at road level, turn right over the bridge: you are already leaving the area of the small mediaeval city. Continue into the Haarlemmer straat, the mediaeval road to Haarlem.

pass left at nr. 75 the West-Indisch Huis, former headquarters of the Dutch West India Company.

The Company was probably the largest single slave trader in history, although Holland was not the largest slave-trading state.

go on to the Korte Prinsengracht canal, cross the bridge, and turn right, passing Korte Prinsengracht nr 20.

go straight on, across the cycle bridge under the railway viaduct. It brings you to the quayside of a former dock basin: the new apartment blocks (opposite) are built on a former railway yard.

Dock basin development opposite Bickerseiland.

continue along this quayside, past 1980’s housing – this is not a cycle path. Then go down a few steps, step off your bike, and walk along a boardwalk, in front of new brown-brick apartments. Go up the steps at the end, and turn left.

go on through the short Kleine Bickers straat, and across the bridge over Bickers gracht. The structure of the 17th-century dock basins is preserved here.

turn left at the first corner, at the new apartments. This street is a rectangle around an artificial warehouse island, Prinsen eiland. Here there was relatively early (1980’s) gentrification of 17th and 18th century warehouses.

Prinseneiland, CC image by Bicyclemark

around the next corner, pass a group with triangular top gables, numbered 269-321 (Witte Pelikaan).

at the next corner, pass the houses 24a and 24b.

They were purpose built as artists studios, for the painter George Hendrik Breitner in 1898. His photographs, along with those of Jacob Olie, are the best visual record of late 19th-century Amsterdam.

pass a line of heritage warehouses, nrs. 77-85, then a single warehouse with recently cleaned brick, nr 75 (Mercurius), then a group of five warehouses at nr 65-73 (Mars, Broek in Waterland, Goudenkop, Korenbeurs, Schelvis).

cycle round the next corner. At nr. 49 turn left and cross the narrow wooden lifting bridge, over Realengracht. Cycle on into the Vierwindendwars straat (“transverse street of the four winds”).

Bickerseiland, view from footbridge

at the end of this short street, turn right. At Taandwars straat turn left, then right along the quayside of the Zoutkeets gracht, towards another wooden lifting bridge.

turn left over the bridge, into Bokkinghangen. Until about 150 years ago, herrings were hung here in sheds, to dry into bokking.

at Barentsz plein, turn right towards two former grain silos converted to prestige apartments. The first one was a simple 1950’s concrete structure: after cleaning and addition of windows, it looks like a new building. The older brick silos behind it are a listed monument, silo “Korthals Altes”, a former art squat.

cross the main road (van Diemen straat) toward the silos, and cycle along the access road (Silodam).

The original structure and appearance of the oldest silo have been lost. It would have been cheaper to demolish it and build new apartments – but the rich pay extra money to live in ‘heritage’ buildings.

cycle on to the new block: you can walk under the building, and up the steps to a platform with a view of the Amsterdam harbour. The name of this river (estuary) is IJ, which is a single letter in Dutch.

New Silodam apartments Amsterdam

turn back, past the 1950’s silo. At the traffic lights turn right (Van Diemen straat, no sign at this corner).

go on along Van Diemen straat, and cross an inland shipping canal – you will pass this canal several times.

go straight on, passing dockland construction sites. The cycle path has been relocated, alongside a new tunnel (not open yet).

continue along the older section of street (Tasman straat). After the traffic lights, turn left, into Hembrug straat.

continue along Hemburg straat: this area was built around the time of the First World War, with examples of the architecture of the Amsterdam School.

cross the Oostzaan straat, and pass the most famous of these housing projects: the 1917/1921 block with Post Office designed for housing association Eigen Haard by Michel de Klerk. (Under renovation 2016-2017, there may not be much to see).

stop at the most-photographed feature, the tiled steeple on the left. At this point, beside nr 334, turn right into the arched entrance of another housing project, Zaanhof.

Zaanhof entrance

inside the arch turn right, along the right-hand side of the enclosed public garden. The design of the block was influenced by the English Garden City movement.

cycle around the public garden, until you reach nr 98. Turn right here, to exit the block, under another arch, dated 1918.

turn right after the arch, along Zaanstraat. At the end of this street, go onto the new two-way cycle path, and turn left.

pass the WestCord Amsterdam Art Hotel, and go straight on at the traffic lights, still on the cycle path.

pass under the rail line, through an underpass. Immediately after the underpass tunnel, turn left onto the cycle path at the sign ‘Weth. de Roos Schoolwerktuin’.

the path rises slightly: after 100 m turn right, sign for Begraafplaats St. Barbara. a graveyard.

100 m after the graveyard entrance, stop at some fields, with an old farmhouse. This survived as an agricultural remnant until the 1990’s, although only 3 km from the city centre.

You are standing on the mediaeval sea dike of the IJ south bank. It is called the Spaarndammer dijk, because it extends to the village of Spaarndam, near Haarlem. The fields are on the original land side: most of the land to the north – the present port zone – was salt water and mud flats until the 1870’s.

from this point turn back, back past the graveyard, toward the railway maintenance depot. At the fence of the depot, turn right along the cycle path, Overbraker pad.

Westerpark with rail line

pass under another rail line, through a wide cycle underpass: you are now in the extended Westerpark. Pass (left) more grazing land, abandoned to revert to a pseudo-natural state.

the path rises: just before the cycle bridge, turn left. This cycle path is raised, because it is the old embankment of the rail line to Haarlem.

The park is laid out on the site of a 19th-century coal-gas plant, the Westergasfabriek: the buildings were redeveloped as a gentrified arts/cultural centre. The 1854 topographic map still shows open fields here: but later in the 19th century parks, housing and industry were built outside the city walls. The gas plant became redundant after the introduction of natural gas.

the path rises level with the rail line: here the tiled steeple is just visible left. Cycle downhill, and then straight on, through the older section of park.

west-15

as you leave the park, at the sculpture, turn right. Cross the main road at the traffic lights, toward the faded-pink 8-storey block.

go into the street beside this block, De Witten straat. This quarter is the Staatsliedenbuurt, with late 19th-century housing and schools, and much urban-renewal infill from the 1970’s on.

cross tram line 10, go straight on. At the end of De Witten straat, turn left, then right along the quayside: this is the inland shipping canal again (Kostverloren vaart).

Here the gentrification of the area is highly visible, in a cluster of upmarket apartment blocks along the canal. 20 years ago the sites were used by warehouses and light industry. The apartments ahead are the most prestigious, the Krier / Kohl Meander project.

Krier Kohl Meander

cross the wooden footbridge, and turn left along the van der Palm kade. Follow the quayside past a primary school (on the ground floor of the block), and then go up the steps.

turn right, then first left, into Donker Curtius straat. It takes you back to the quayside of the Kostverloren vaart. The newest apartments were built on the last remaining quayside sites.

pass a restored windmill, De Otter – a sawmill on a relict industrial location, with old wooden sheds.

Even 300 years ago, activities not wanted inside the city walls relocated to this area. An 1854 map specifically indicates ‘sawmills’ along this stretch of canal.

Sawmill 'De Otter' Amsterdam

continue over a cycle bridge over a side canal. Cross the road at the end of the cycle bridge, and turn left, crossing the Kostverloren vaart.

10 m after the bridge, turn right, onto the cycle path. At the end of the short path, turn right, between the new apartment blocks.

at the end of this street, at the care home De Werf, turn right onto the cycle path. It bends left to the waterside of the Kostverloren vaart.

cross the arched footbridge / cycle-bridge. Go straight on, along Bilderdijk kade.

Bilderdijkkade

at the tram line, turn right across the bridge, and then immediately left. You are now on the other bank of this canal, also called Bilderdijk kade.

turn second right into Kwakers straat: the area on the corner is being redeveloped. At Bellamy plein, go left of the small public garden.

pass (left) a former tram depot, now a flagship regeneration project: go on into Bellamy straat, and cross Ten Kate straat.

This was until recently a low-income area with cheap late 19th century housing. The street market in Ten Kate straat is perhaps the most authentic market in Amsterdam, because it retains its original function (although now for a largely immigrant population). The housing along Ten Kate straat is classic revolutiebouw, ‘revolutionary build’. The ‘revolution’ was the discovery that small private builders could mass-produce cheap housing, and that the slowly rising incomes of the poor allowed them to rent it. Two families once lived on each floor: perhaps 15 people, in what is now considered acceptable for one student.

continue along Bellamy straat, past smaller 19th-century houses: early suburbanisation of a horticultural area outside the city walls.

Bellamystraat

at the end of the street, turn left. You are again on the quayside of the shipping canal (Kostverloren vaart).

On the other bank is the Westermoskee or ‘western mosque, built after 20 years of controversy about Islam in Amsterdam.

cross the Kinker straat, with tram lines 7 and 17, and continue along the canal side. Further on, the road turns, to follow a side canal.

turn right across the first bridge after the bend, into Pieter Langendijk straat. Turn second left into the Wilhelmina straat. This area is typical late 19th-century housing of reasonable quality.

Most houses have had some form of renovation, in the last 20 years: there is relatively little infill housing. Note the large windows, on many of the ground floors in this street – all former shops. Under the very different urban density, demographics, and retail practice of 1910, it was economic to have 5 or 10 shops in every street. This mass of retail employment was displaced by the supermarkets, in the 1950’s and 1960’s. Most former shops are now residential: a few are still in commercial use.

at the Jan Pieter Heije straat turn right. This is a typical local shopping street in 19th-century quarters. The side streets are generally similar to the Wilhelmina straat.

All in all, this area is not very gentrified, and not a slum either. It is is not all “white”, and not a ghetto either: some students, some immigrant families. But none of the white lower-middle-income families, who were the bulk of the population until about 1960. They left. They got cars, motorways, broad parks, and private gardens. And they pay for them: about one-third of consumer expenditure is related to this 20th-century transformation of urban life.

Wilhelminastraat

the Jan Pieter Heije straat ends at the Overtoom (route of tram line 1). Cross the road, to the two-way cycle path on the other side, and turn right.

after 50 m, at nr. 325, turn into the short Katten laan. Go past the tennis courts, into the 19th-century Vondelpark. Inside the park gate, turn right along a long tree-lined avenue.

Vondelpark Amsterdam

go on through the park. Further on, the avenue curves. When the avenue splits, go the the right, and exit the park by the large triple park gates.

cross the Amstelveense weg (with tram line), and go on along the cycle path, opposite the triple gates.

via the cycle bridge, cross the Kostverlorenvaart, again. This canal is one of the oldest major landscape elements in the city, along with the Amstel river, the dam, and the sea dike.

go straight on into Theophile de Bock straat, past a small square with 3-storey houses, Jacob Maris plein.

This type of housing is unusual in Amsterdam, although there are comparable areas in Watergraafsmeer (Route 5). The square marks the furthest western expansion of the 19th-century city: on a 1908 map there are fields beyond it.

cross the Haarlemmermeer straat at the traffic lights. The housing here, 4 or 5 storey enclosed blocks, is typical interwar private housing.

Haarlemmerstraat with concrete cows

before the new school (Bockesprong), turn right, follow the cycle sign for Osdorp. Stop on the bridge, and look back at the older housing.

The interwar houses stop here: this is a sharp urban edge line representing a stop in expansion. It marks the worldwide Depression, the Second World War, German occupation, and post-war austerity: urban expansion restarted in the 1950’s.

immediately after the bridge turn left, onto a cycle path along the lake: again follow the sign for Osdorp. Pass new apartments, built on the site of a former hospital.

Westlandgracht

after the new apartments, turn right, over the cycle bridge with the brown wooden railings. Then turn left, under the viaducts of the ring motorway.

A new bridge is under construction here. The route is the same, turn right over the bridge and turn left under the motorway.

after the motorway, go straight on, across the roundabout, into the Schipluiden laan. Look back to the left, at the 1960’s blocks.

This was originally a suburban relocation of the clothing industry. The building has been renovated since, and renamed World Fashion Center. The mono-sectoral function has evolved into a cluster of office employment.

World Fashion Centre Amsterdam

go on about 250 m, and turn left at the cycle sign, in the direction Amstelveen / Den Haag. This sign may be moved or hidden by construction work: if you reach the rail viaduct, you went too far.

pass 5 apartment blocks, on the right. At the last block, the cycle path bends. Leave this path, go straight on, down the ramp to the waterside.

go over the footbridge to the metro entrance – Heemstedestraat Station, on the ring metro line.

at the entrance, turn left across the bridge, and then right along the cycle path. You are now on Plesman laan, which carries tram line 2. (Albert Plesman founded KLM, making him a minor national hero).

after the metro station, the urban design is from the 1950’s and 1960’s. This is Slotervaart, named after the canal beside the road.

This is one of the westelijke tuinsteden, or ‘western garden cities’, started in the 1950’s. Together they house about 130 000 people. The area was ‘new and modern’ in about 1965, but by now it seems an architectural museum. A mass demolition programme is clearing most of the 1950’s housing. As in other European countries, the aim is to force low-income families out of the area – and preferably out of Amsterdam.

pass left a medical complex, including a hospital, the Netherlands Cancer Institute, and the national blood transfusion laboratory.

after the medical complex, you leave the the built-up area, as it was in 1985. The next houses on the left are untypical, because this was an agricultural area (greenhouses). Behind them new housing is visible, a 1990’s urban extension of Amsterdam, Nieuw Sloten.

pass left Ottenhof (garden plants, a relict of the former land use). At the next roundabout, turn left into the housing development, under the 9-storey apartment block – follow the signs for Oeverlanden.

follow the cycle path through a wedge of open space. Nieuw Sloten is typical of recent urban-edge housing, the VINEX locations.

Nieuw Sloten itself was was first planned around 1985 – it would have been the Olympic Village in Amsterdam’s failed bid for the 1992 Olympics. VINEX is an abbreviation for the revised 4th national spatial plan. This 1990’s policy attempted to “limit urban dispersal” by concentrating hundreds of thousands of people, in large new developments at the edge of existing cities.

the cycle path continues towards the Slotertoren, the highest block in Nieuw Sloten, and crosses tram line 2.

Slotertoren Nieuw Sloten

continue past the shops. At the end of the path, go slightly left to the traffic lights, and cross the road.

from the traffic lights go straight on, along the two-way cycle path, passing two schools (Mijlpaal and Lumion).

at the next roundabout, turn right, onto Sloter weg. Follow the cycle sign for Sloten.

go on along Sloter weg, past detached houses, and some old farmhouses. This road once passed through open grassland.

at the corner of Ditlar, cycle straight on (past the no-entry sign). Be careful here! Continue into the historical core of the village of Sloten.

in the village, stop at nr. 1204, and go into the alley, to look at a surviving boundary marker of the city of Amsterdam: TERMINUS PROSCRIPTIONIS.

Located here because it was one German mile (7,4 km) from the city gate, it marked the limit of city jurisdiction, as fixed in late-mediaeval times. (The Sloten road was a main route to the city at that time). Those sentenced to exile faced execution, if they crossed this point, back into the city.

Sloten village street

continue along the village street, with its two-storey rural houses. At nr 1253, turn right toward the church, across Dorpsplein, the old village square.

A sign explains that it is built on the site of a mediaeval terp – a raised mound. A terp (plural terpen) was the only flood defence, before dike construction began around 1200.

the circular graveyard around the church is still visibly raised: go around it anti-clockwise, to the right.

when you reach the church door, turn right into the Nieuwe Aker weg, then left into the Akerpolder straat.

The first building here still has the sign above the door indicating its original function: ‘Wees- en Armenhuis’ – Orphanage and Poorhouse.

back at the village street, turn right to continue: here too some farm buildings survive. At the last houses, the old settlement ends, but ahead there is still a windmill.

Molen van Sloten, windmill

cycle on and cross the main road to the windmill, a water pumping mill dating from 1847. This is the furthest point on this route, and after the windmill you turn back.

This the only windmill in the region open daily. It is heavily restored, and primarily a tourist attraction. The sign attempts to associate it with Rembrandt. He was the son of a miller, and he sketched in the area, but he certainly never saw this windmill, built long after his death.

to return, follow the main road here, past the bus stops, back toward central Amsterdam. The road brings you back to Plesman laan, and the metro station you passed earlier (Heemstedestraat). From there, simply follow tram line 2 back to the centre: along Heemstede straat, around the square at Hoofddorp plein, on through Hoofddorp weg, Zeil straat, Koninginne weg, Willemspark weg, and Paulus Potter straat, to the Rijksmuseum – the end point of this route.

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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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