Walk Amsterdam’s Prinseneiland
Amsterdam was booming in the 17th century and soon people were looking for new ways to create more housing. There was also need for an extra harbor. In the early 17th century Amsterdam decided to reclaim some of the IJ river and create three islands: Prinseneiland, Realeneiland and Bickerseiland. The harbor that was created is called the houthavens (or woodharbor) and contains many fun places to discover. Today we will explore all these artificial islands and what they have to offer. This weekly walk includes a lot of history, some local hotspots and the statue of a giant.
Enjoy your walk!
⏱️ Total Walking Time: 45 min
☕ Best Roast en Route: Coffee & Such
Coffee & Such is one of the best places in Amsterdam to enjoy some coffee. They offer quality coffee by White Label. Grab a coffee before, during or after your weekly walk and enjoy of the amazing pastries they have to offer. This coffee bar is vegan friendly, they offer a great variety of milk, and have some vegan pastries. A perfect place to relax, take a seat and take in the amazing coffee flavor, whilst listening to some good soul music.
Highlight A: ‘t Blaauwhooft
This typical Amsterdam cafe is the perfect place to meet some locals. The cafe has been around for over 25 years and offers the best cheese fondue of the city. It has a great variety of beers, super friendly personnel and is a good example of a super “gezellig” Dutch cafe. Play a jeu de boule game on the track next to the terrace with your friends or your walking buddies or meet some of the Dutch neighborhood residents.
Highlight B: The Giant of Bickers Island
The statue that you will find here is a replica from the original figurehead of Bickers Island from the 17th century. The original statue was made by the owner of the island. It is not clear who the giant is supposed to resemble. The statue changed ownership over the last few centuries. In the ‘50s the complete statue had to be renewed because it had worn down over the centuries, but the replica proved to be as popular. In the ‘70s the owner of the statue moved to Spain and took it with him. The residents of this neighborhood tried to track the statue down to restore it to its ‘rightful’ place, for years, which finally happened in 2011, but not before the statue got to see a big part of the world. The statue had been moved from Spain to Canada, to Africa and finally back to Amsterdam. Kinda like my last flight itinerary.
Highlight C: View on the Gallows
The Galgenstraat, or Gallowstreet, earned its uncomfortable name because of its view. Amsterdam Noord included a gallowfield along the IJ water until 1795. From this street, on the Prinseneiland, you had a perfect view of the hanging bodies. Criminals used to be convicted on Dam square, where they would be hanged in front of the crowds. The corpses were moved to the North side of the IJ and hanged along the water in the gallow field, for everyone to see. This way anyone that would enter Amsterdam by boat would be warned that criminal activities would have severe consequences.
Highlight D: Swimming with the Locals
On the corner of Prinseneiland, you can find a small corner dedicated to rest. This public garden gives you the opportunity to take a break from the weekly walk and even jump in the water, if the weather allows you to. A good place for a small picnic and enjoy the summer, with a beautiful view on the islands and on of the other landmarks: the drieharingen brug.
Highlight E: Drieharingen Brug
Between Prinseneiland and Realeneiland we find one of the classic, double, Dutch drawbridges. By hanging onto one of the steel chains, which are hanging on both sides of the bridge under the counter weights, you were able to open this double drawbridge. The opening and closing of such bridges was a common job among children. They would play and hangout around the bridge all day, and hang on the chains to open the bridges everytime a boat wanted to pass. After letting the boat through they would hold out a stick with a little bucket dangling from its end and ask (rather: ‘fish’) for money.
Highlight F: Public Garden
This little corner of the Realeneiland contains a small public garden. Often covered with flowers, this garden offers a little bit of rest and nature to the residents of this island. The garden is the perfect place to meet members of the community or, if you did not have a break yet, to rest a bit during your weekly walk.
Highlight G: Gouden Reaal
On the corner canal house you can see the symbol of an old Spanish coin, the gold real. This plague on the facade was placed by the Reael family in the 17th century and made such a good impression that the whole island was named after the coin, in the 20th century.
This street contains thirteen captain’s houses in a row, of which each contains a fascinating plaque on its facade. At the moment the Gouden Reaal contains a French restaurant, by the Lowel family. The family owns a few restaurants and they make their own wine. Slurp slurp.
Highlight H: Silodam
Silodam is a breakwater, which was placed in the 19th century. Along the 300 meter breakwater you can find two former grain silos (the grey and brown buildings). The breakwater was constructed to protect the Houthavens (Woodharbor) to the west of Silodam. The two grain silo buildings remained unused during a big part of the 20th century, but were occupied bysquatters in the ‘80s. They organized some amazing parties there, and the silos gained an important role in the Amsterdam Dance scene. Right before the turn of the millennium the silos had been transformed into residential houses. They include social and private housing. The modern building at the end of Silodam is supposed to resemble a container ship. Each color layer holds another apartment.
Highlight I: Haarlemmerpoort (Haarlem Gate)
It was common in Amsterdam to have different gates and different roads that directly led to cities around Amsterdam. The Haarlemmerpoort, together with the Haarlemmerstraat, led you directly to Haarlem. The Haarlemmerpoort has been replaced four times since the first gate in the 14th century, due to the expansion of the city or the disparity of the previous gates conditions. The current gate is actually called Willemspoort, after a former Dutch king, Willem II. The gate was finished right before his coronation and so the king was able to enter the city through his own gate, in 1840. Yet, there are only few who know this gate to be named the Willemspoort.
Your Fav Hidden Gems
The above highlights are just some of our favorite spots along the way. If something catches your eye while en route, share a picture with us so we can share with the group next week. Email is the best.
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