Amsterdam/West

West is a vast suburban area of Amsterdam. Administratively it consists of the boroughs West and Nieuw-West, and it also includes the harbor area along the IJ that is directly controlled by the municipal authorities. The district is often overlooked by travelers, but it does have some interesting places to see, especially for those interested in modern architecture such as the Amsterdam School style.

'Het Schip' in Amsterdam School style

Understand

De Otter windmill seen from Gilles van Ledenberghstraat

Due to a strong population increase in the second half of the 19th century, Amsterdam needed to expand in a westwards direction from the city center. The first street that was built was the Vondelstraat, in an area now known as the Vondelbuurt. It was designed by the architect Pierre Cuypers, and became an affluent street with stately mansions bordering the Vondelpark. The horse tram ran through this street from 1877 till 1903, but was then superseded by the electric tram line 1 that runs along the larger avenue Overtoom just north of it (and is still running the same course after a century). Together with the Kinkerstraat, these streets make up the central area of West and are the most interesting for travelers to visit.

The neighborhoods north of it, the Frederik Hendrikbuurt, Staatsliedenbuurt, Zeeheldenbuurt and Spaarndammerbuurt, were constructed around this period as well. They revolve around the Westerpark, which was constructed in 1890 at the site of the city's former gasworks. It's now a lively park, and the surrounding area serves as a cultural hotspot for artists and students. There are hip cafes, eateries, galleries, clubs, and a cinema that primarily shows Dutch art films (but there are usually some English films too). The Houthavens east of the park has some remarkable architecture: the Silodam, basically a giant horizontal Jenga tower on water, surrounded by the historical Graansilo and Stenen Silo, old grain silos built in the late 19th century.

In 1921, Amsterdam absorbed the former municipality of Sloten. A year later, the Plan West was launched that proposed the construction of 6000 new houses in the neighborhood now known as De Baarsjes. They were to be built in the Amsterdam School style, an Expressionist style that was critical of the Neo-Renaissance style in which many buildings were designed before. Construction of the neighborhood took place between 1925 and 1927, and some areas were built in the contrasting New Objectivity style, such as the Mercatorplein by H. P. Berlage. The best examples of the Amsterdam School style can be found in the Spaarndammerbuurt, for example 'Het Schip' by Michel de Klerk in the Zaanstraat and Oostzaanstraat, which now houses a museum dedicated to the style.

After 1950 construction of a large residential district began in the area now west of the motorway A10. These were initially known as the Westelijke Tuinsteden, but are now part of the borough of Nieuw-West ("New West") and usually called out by that name. It's a multicultural borough with a strong presence of Turkish and Moroccan communities. Unfortunately the area used to make headlines for safety issues, but it has seen improvements recently due to reconstruction projects. The northern end of this area, around Sloterdijk railway station, is now a booming business center that takes advantage of Amsterdam's harbor immediately to the north of it along the IJ.

Sloterdijk is a massive interchange station

Get in

By train

The line between Amsterdam Centraal, Amsterdam's main train station in the heart of its city centre, and Amsterdam Airport Schiphol runs through the middle of Amsterdam-West. There are two stations on that line - Amsterdam Lelylaan and Amsterdam Sloterdijk. All trains between Schiphol and Centraal stop at both of them. Sloterdijk is a major interchange, situated on a railway crossing between the north-south line (serving all of North Holland north of Amsterdam and connecting to South Holland via Schiphol) and the east-west line between Amsterdam and Haarlem. Trains running to Sloterdijk through Amsterdam Centraal connect the station to much of the rest of the country, with some stopping at Lelylaan as well.

Map of Amsterdam metro lines

By metro

Both Sloterdijk and Lelylaan are also metro stations on line 50. Apart from them, there are 7 other station in the district, including the terminus at Isolatorweg. While line 50 serves West, and especially Nieuw-West, very well, it doesn't go to the city centre but rather to the Zuid and Zuidoost. You can change to other metro lines at Station Zuid or all stations further south to go to other districts, including the centre.

Schematic of the Amsterdam tram system

By tram

Amsterdam's extensive tram network has many lines extending from the city centre towards terminii in the West. Those are your best bets for getting to and from the city centre.

Dog statue in Rembrandpark

See

Museums

Westergasfabriek, the cultural events venue in Westergasfabriek

Parks

De 1200 Roe

Windmills

Scattered over the district are plenty of windmills, however, none of them are open to the public (but they do look good on pictures).

De Bloem seen from Westermarktkanal

Do

Buy

Drink

Nightclubs

Sleep

Budget

Mid-range

Splurge

Go next

Routes through West

END  W  E  Zuid Binnenstad


This article is issued from Wikivoyage - version of the Saturday, March 28, 2015. The text is available under the Creative Commons Attribution/Share Alike but additional terms may apply for the media files.