The Blue Bridge

The Blue Bridge: scene of riots and likes

It is the bridge that takes you from Waterloo Square to the city. Or from Rembrandtplein to the Stopera. The Blue Bridge was once built to make a big impression on visitors to the capital. Nowadays it is primarily a convenient connection across the Amstel River as well as the place where tourists get their pictures taken for the most likes on Instagram. But blue, the Blue Bridge is not. How about that?

It may have to do with a lack of inspiration.

From wood to stone
Many Amsterdam bridges used to be wooden, and were later replaced by a stone version. So was the Blauwbrug, which at one point had to allow streetcars to pass over the Amstel as well. The original wooden (drawbridge) bridge was painted blue after the characteristic blue of the Dutch flag. When stones replaced wood, the name just stuck.

Parisian grandeur
In rebuilding the bridge, not only were the materials replaced, several passageways were created, inspired by the bridges over the Seine in Paris. With this Parisian grandeur and all its decorations, the bridge was given a luxurious look, which the city could show off during the Colonial Exposition in 1883. So after the opening, there was a lot of criticism: the “common man” thought the bridge was far too pompous for a city like Amsterdam.

Near the entrance to the Waterlooplein parking garage is a plaque on which the old version of the Blauwbrug can still be seen with the inscription: ‘De Blauwbrugh over den Amstel’.

Ice floes
As you pass under the Blue Bridge, you see that the bridge is built on enormously sturdy bridge piers. Those pillars (or “legs”) are still a legacy of the inspiration on the Pont Neuf in Paris. There, extra solid bridge piers were needed to hold off ice floes in the fast-flowing Seine. Since the Amstel flows only very slowly, these particular pillars are really just useless.

Facts about the Blue Bridge
On April 30, 1980, the Blue Bridge was the scene of riots between squatters and the ME (“No housing, no coronation”), not entirely coincidentally the day Princess Beatrix was inaugurated as Queen. Based on this event, A.F.Th. van der Heijden’s book “The Battle of the Blue Bridge. The Blauwbrug is also listed first in the list of Amsterdam’s most Instagrammable places.