When I first went to The Netherlands I went with a rather limited, no completely idealess view of the country, its customs and its people. I remember being asked what I wanted to do whilst I was over there and being a little dumbstruck due to my lack of cultural awareness. After getting over the “omg its so clean and so flat” I started to take notice of the country and its little quirks. The Netherlands is basically water mad and living where I live in England its something I’ve never really had to notice. So what started off as a little joke between me and my best friend has kind of become a thing. In this post I’m going to talk about bridges. I have a thing for bridges. We even have a fluctuating league table (even I don’t really know the current status of the top 3 I’m leaving that to my Dutch counterparts!).
“Bridges become frames for looking at the world around us.”
So here are some facts:
- The ‘Netherlands’ means “Low Country” in Dutch.
- About half of its surface area is less than 1 metre above sea level. Its highest point is 321 metres (1,053 ft) above sea level.
- About one third of the Dutch territory is actually below sea level.
- If the mosaic of dikes where put end to end they would stretch for nearly 80,000 kilometres. If one of these dikes where to break, only a restricted area – called a “dike ring” – would flood. But if all dikes where to break simultaneously, roughly one half of the Netherlands would be flooded.
- It would take just 48 hours for an entire province of Flevoland, 3 times the size of Manhattan, New York to be submerged in water if a dike broke in that area.
- Amsterdam got its name from the Amstel River.
- Amsterdam has 165 canals that combines for a length of over 100 kilometers (about 60 miles). The Canal Ring became part of the UNESCO World Heritage list in 2010.
Now onto my weird little obsession with bridges!
- Amsterdam has more bridges than Venice. There are only in fact 409 bridges connecting Venice’s canals. Amsterdam actually has 1281 bridges, three times as many as Venice!
- The Netherlands has more than 4,000 km of navigable canals, rivers and lakes.
- “Canal” or gracht is related to the English word “grave.”
- Canals were made by people for defence and transportation
- “The (balancing) bridge was open” is considered the traditional Dutch excuse for being late.
The ‘Erasmusbrug’ (Erasmus Bridge) is one of the icons of Rotterdam. It is one of Holland’s most famous bridges officially opened by Queen Beatrix in 1996 as an important connection between the Northern and Southern parts of Rotterdam. The bridge is 800 meters long and has a 139 meter high pylon which is fastened by 32 stays. The bridge is also known as ‘The Swan’.
The Van Brienenoord Bridge is an arch bridge for car traffic over the river Nieuwe Maas, which is a major distributary of the river Rhine. The bridge is located at the east side of Rotterdam, Netherlands. I’d say this makes my top 3!
The Zwijndrecht Bridge (I think is currently at number 1) this bridge is also in the South of Holland ( I can see a bit of a pattern going on here too!) it crossed the Oude Maas river connecting Dordrecht to Zwijndrecht. Its pretty day and night in my opinion and has the train crossing it swell as cars, bicycles and pedestrians.
There are a number of smaller bridges that also require some recognition. Den Haag is home to some beautiful little bridges in such picturesque streets, similar to Amsterdam but with a little less hustle and bustle. They literally stick bridges everywhere!
Kinderdijk – if you haven’t been here then go. Go now. Stop what you’re doing and go now! It is home of the Windmills (my photo on the homepage is one I took in Kinderdijk last year). What else do you need in Holland other than windmills and water?! All that was missing for me was a bunch of tulips under my arms and a flask of Chocomel!
Basically the Dutch love their bridges. They make them out of anything. I am always on the hunt for a picturesque bridge, how sad is that! I love a good early evening walk along the water. I was equally as excited walking down the River Liffey in Dublin! I have some cracking bridge photos from there!
So that is all I’ve got for today. Granted theres not that many, theres many more I could have added but who really want to read a post on bridges?! Here’s a lovely little water picture to leave you with.