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In my opinion, the Magere Brug (the “Skinny Bridge” in English) is the best bridge in Amsterdam because of its beauty (by day and by night) and its ideal location on the Amstel River. It’s my favorite place to sit and dangle my feet in the sunlight.
A trace from the Golden Age
The Skinny Bridge was built in 1691, toward the end of the Dutch Golden Age. According to a popular legend, the bridge was constructed with funding from the wealthy Mager sisters, who lived on opposite sides of the Amstel River. With the Magere Brug built, the two sisters could visit one another with just a short jaunt over the bridge.
Sound far-fetched? Locals agree, and claim that the bridge’s name comes from the fact that it was originally so skinny that two people passing each other struggled. (“Mager” means “thin” in Dutch.) Despite renovations to widen it, the bridge retains an antique look, reminding us of a time rich with romanticism.
The bascule design, with a middle platform that divides and opens like a seesaw, only enhances its adorable charm. The bridge’s white-painted wooden body and giant rolo chains are an attractive sight by day, and the 1,200 white bulbs reflecting on the dancing water below carry on its grace through the night.
As a slightly off-color aside, the bridge was the site of a protest during the 1960s. Demanding public toilets for ladies, women marched on the Magere Brug, lifted their skirts and “demonstrated” their feelings. Needless to say, the women got their public toilets, though they were closed soon after due to vagrants using their facilities as sleeping spots.
The great location
The Skinny Bridge stretches across the Amstel River and rests between the Keizergracht and Prinsengracht canals. It’s a great spot to relax and munch on lunch while taking in the divine city view. One side overlooks the Waterlooplein and the lively Muntplein, while the other side reveals the Amstel’s journey beyond the city river.
The view by night is just as spectacular, and it’s what made me fall in love with this bridge four years ago. An Amsterdam newbie, I was cycling home one evening and heading full speed toward the Skinny Bridge. With my headphones blasting a favorite tune, I pedaled across its path and couldn’t decide which view was most breathtaking. In an act of indecisiveness, I threw up my hands, coasted across and declared my love for Amsterdam. (As a bonus, I learned I could ride my bike without handlebars.)