The skinny

The skinny bridge: leading role in three legends

Amsterdam has quite a few bridges: 1,680 to be exact. Of these, 346 have an official name, including one of Amsterdam’s most photographed bridges: the Skinny Bridge. How did that bridge even get its name, it’s not that skinny, is it?

It appears in every tourist booklet and postcard rack: the “Skinny Bridge,” or Skinny Bridge. The origin of this bridge’s name is still the subject of heated debate to this day. Indeed, three legends circulate.

Legend 1: For thin girls
Once upon a time, the wooden drawbridge we know as the Skinny Bridge was so narrow that people could barely pass each other when walking in opposite directions. Consequently, it was nicknamed the “Kippetjesbrug,” because the span could only be used by very skinny people (a kippetje is Amsterdam slang for a skinny girl). To cope with increasing traffic on the Amstel River, this original “skinny” little bridge was replaced by a wider one in 1871.

Legend 2: for thin boats
The original 1691 bridge had as many as 12 passages, which were obviously very narrow: hence the “skinny” name. The current bridge dating from 1934 has eight, allowing wider boats to pass through, but the designation remained. Tall ships can – as then – still enter the city from the Amstel, due to the possibility of raising the bridge.

Legend 3: For thin sisters
The last legend, is perhaps the most evocative. The bridge was said to be named after two sisters who were either very skinny, very stingy or bore the surname “Skinny. These wealthy sisters each lived on a different side of the river and built a bridge to make it easier to get to each other for tea.

Decor of James Bond
In addition to three legends, there’s probably a lot you didn’t know about the Skinny Bridge:

  • At night, the Skinny Bridge is illuminated by as many as 1,200 lights, a beautiful sight. Due to criticism from some environmentally conscious Amsterdam residents, they were replaced with energy-efficient LED lights.
  • To further complicate matters, the Skinny Bridge gets its name from what it was popularly called. The official name of this bridge was the Church Street Bridge.
  • In a theme park in the town of Holland, Michigan, stands a home-made Skinny Bridge. Just like real.
  • The Skinny Bridge plays a role in the James Bond film “Diamonds are forever. A number of scenes were filmed in Amsterdam, and of course this iconic bridge could not be missed.
  • The Skinny Bridge once graced the summer postage stamp in 1967. Should you have it lying around somewhere … it is (unfortunately) worth at most one euro.


Romantic date

Also, or perhaps especially, at night, the Skinny Bridge is a sight to behold. From the bridge towards Rembrandplein, you have a great view of the Skinny Bridge with all its 1,200 lights. Sailing underneath it, for example on a romantic date, is also absolutely recommended, for example with a canal cruise or on one of the boats of the Nederlanden. You then sail through the middle of the bridge, where the bridge can also be raised, an imposing sight.