Walk Amsterdam’s Rijnbuurt
Welcome to the Rijnbuurt. This walk is all about the most important river of Amsterdam – the Amstel. The city itself is named after the dam that was built on this infamous river, to keep all the salt water of the southern sea from flowing into the land and destroying the crops. We’ll be walking along the Amstel crossing at two different bridges and passing multiple swimming spots. So if you’re doing this walk on a hot day and you’ve got some extra time to spare: Bring your swimsuit!
Enjoy your walk!
⏱️ Total Walking Time: 45 min
☕ Best Roast en Route: ‘t Huis aan de Amstel
Lovely little free standing house along the Amstel (hence the name) with it’s own garden where you can sit and soak up the sunshine. They also have live Jazz music every Sunday! It’s the perfect place to get away from it all, although not for long as new apartment buildings are being built all around it. The inside looks great and makes you feel you’re at home, with a view that is second to none.
Highlight A: Martin Luther King Park
Towards the end of the 19th century people discovered that a local greenery was very important for their health. People thought you should be able to escape the nasty city fumes and breathe in fresh air in a park. During this period, any city expansion had to have a park built in. In 1929 Miser Berlage reserved an area along the Amstel in his city plan for a park to be made; “The Amstelpark”.
But isn’t this the Martin Luther King Park where you are standing? Well, halfway through the 50’s the Utrechtse Brug was built which split the park in half. On the western half of the park new buildings were built as well which made the “Amstel park” a lot smaller than it used to be. To remedy the fact that there was less greenery for the locals a new park was made further down the Amstel. That became the new Amstel Park and this park was renamed in 1971 after Martin Luther King (who was killed in 1968).
Highlight B: Speeltuin Amsterdam Zuid & La Maria
Hang on! You guys are probably too old to go down the slide (or aren’t you?). There are, however, a couple more things to point out on this square next to the lively playground. On one of the corners you’ll find an awesome thrift shop. THRIFT SHOP! Here they sell all kinds of goodies, like CDs, vinyl records, speakers, and books.
Just around the corner from the thrift shop there is a lovely little restaurant called “La Maria” to go for dinner. All the food they make is made in an old Italian Pasquini oven. The oven as the “beating heart of the kitchen” mixed with fine natural wines makes this restaurant a lovely experience for any (Italian) food lover!
Highlight C: Tram Depot Lekstraat
This here is the “Tram Depot Lekstraat” or “Tram Depot Kromme Mijdrechtstraat”, depending from where you enter. At the moment it houses trams 3, 4, 12 and 14, however there are also a number of old trams that live here, up to 41 in total. The Tram Depot was built in 1927-’29. It was first used in 1929 and back then it was also the biggest tram depot of Europe – humble brag. It actually has the capacity to store more than a 100 trams. Given that this depot is in the middle of a residential area, it probably won’t be long before this place also becomes a place for yoga, restaurants, and a movie theater.
Highlight D: Berlagebrug
In 1925, urban planner / architect Mister Berlage finished up his work in this newly built area. Yet, there was no connection across the water from his ‘Plan Zuid’ and the rest of Amsterdam. Berlage came up with a design for a bridge connecting the two sides. Tramlines were integrated in the design even though the first tram to actually cross the bridge was more than 10 years later. In 1945 the local resistance wanted to blow up the bridge to stop Nazi officers from escaping Amsterdam. Luckily, they decided to open the bridge instead – smart cookies there were. This delayed the officers long enough for the Allied Forces to capture them! Interesting fact: the ‘Vrijheidslaan’ used to be called the ‘Stalin Lane’, as he was one of the victors of WWII. This was later changed to ‘Vrijheidslaan’ or ‘Freedom Lane’; for obvious reasons.
Small tip, when crossing the bridge from west to east, take a left to check out the rowing club named after the bridge. This is also a great place to jump in the water on a hot day (or a cold day if you’re one of those people).
Highlight E: De Omval
You might have noticed that most buildings in Amsterdam aren’t much taller than 20 meters at most. The Omval is an exception to this! The Omval is like the baby brother of the business center the “Zuidas”. It has 3 towers named after famous Dutch artists; the Mondriaan Tower, the Breitner Tower and the tallest tower of them all: the Rembrandt Tower! The Rembrandt tower is 150 meter tall including the 15 meter antenna at the top. The last one is also sometimes called ‘The Tower of Power’, as it’s full of investment banks.
Highlight F: Rivierstaete
This is quite the interesting building (have a look across the water once you have crossed it to see how big it really is)! The Rivierstaete building dates back to 1973. A Modernist colossus, it quickly became known locally as ‘the monkey house’ (de apenrots), because of its piled-up, closed volumes. When it was built, it was Europe’s largest office building.
It hasn’t always looked the way it did today though. When it was built in 1973 it already had the unique shape it has today. However, the design was quickly outdated until in 2016 a group of architects came up with a new design. The easiest option would have been to demolish the whole building and build something new instead, but the architects had already fallen in love with the unique shape of the building. They decided to do a full renovation using a lot of glass to make the construction visible to allow lots of light to come in. Next to that, all of the roofs were decorated with greenery, which is not only very pretty but can also store rainwater which is less strenuous for the drainage of the city.
Highlight G: Park Somerlust
I hope you’ve brought your swimsuit, because you won’t be able to resist taking a dip here! On a hot day you’ll find people barbecuing, hanging out in the grass or skating along the winding asphalt road, but most importantly: swimming!
This is one of the newest parks in Amsterdam. It was designed as part of the redevelopment of the Amstelkwartier (the area on the outside of the river bend). The idea of Park Somerlust was to create a strong connection with the river. They have realized this by making steps towards the waterside with places for boats to dock and you’ll see it in the design of some of the surrounding buildings.
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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