Magere Brug

Magere Brug (25)

Lovebirds, photographers and lovers of peace and quiet are regular visitors to this charming wooden white-painted bridge. 

Located on the river Amstel, from which Amsterdam gets its name, the Magere Brug is the city’s most famous bridge and also known as the Skinny Bridge. 

The Magere Brug was built in 1672. Perhaps when you see it, you will wonder why it is called the “Skinny Bridge”, as there is really nothing narrow, skinny, rickety or any other like synonym about this bridge at all. The reason is because in 1871 the bridge was enlarged. Prior to that date, the bridge was so narrow that two people could hardly cross it at the same time. Today, it is still known as the “Skinny Bridge” and you know how difficult it is to get rid of a reputation. 

There is also another version that tells how the Magere Brug got its name. Mager, as well as meaning “skinny” in Dutch, was the surname of two millionaire sisters who lived on the opposite banks of the river Amstel. This version tells how the sisters ordered the bridge to be built so they could meet one another more easily. If faith can move mountains then here money too can have bridges built. 

The enlargement of the bridge in 1871 should be understood against the background of the renewal of the district. Some years beforehand, around 1863, Doctor Samuel Sarphati initiated a great project to shake this zone out of its economic and architectural torpor. Because of this initiative, Sarphati was therefore known as “the founder of the new Amsterdam”. 

The nineteenth century renovation was neither the sole nor the last renovation however. The bridge was renovated again in 1969, and in 2003 use of the bridge was reserved solely to cyclists and to pedestrians. It is nevertheless raised every day to allow tall boats to pass from the Amstel to the IJ. 

Despite all the modifications and renovation work, the Magere Brug still has its original structure and framework. It operates using a counterweight that is activated manually and allows the deck connected to the bridge to be raised by means of braces. 

If you are in the city in May, one end of the bridge plays host to an open-air concert to commemorate V-E Day, the victory of the allies in the Second World War. Take your camera because Queen Beatrix often presides the act. 

This bridge interestingly appears in a whole host of movies, perhaps the most famous of which is “Diamonds are Forever”, in which James Bond gets up to his usual tricks on Dutch soil. 

One last piece of advice. Don’t miss the bridge at night as the 1,200 bulbs that light it up provide a thoroughly striking panorama: a district with painstakingly restored houses, the peaceful murmur of water, in which the Magere Brug’s host of lights are reflected like a star-studded sky. They were not wrong; this is a true scene from a film.

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