AMSTERDAM, The Netherlands – The city of Amsterdam is known for many things: tulips, gorgeous canals, the red light district, and most importantly – beautiful, historical architecture. Walking along the streets of this European capital is always a treat that even locals (such as this writer) never tire of.
A lot of travellers to the city often wonder how it looks from above as Amsterdam does not have a lot of tall structures. With churches and buildings that date all the way back to the 14th century, the distinct style of Dutch architecture and the canals that crisscross through it are a delight to see from above. However, there are not a lot of places where you can go to appreciate this bird’s eye view. The opening of Amsterdam’s latest attraction, however, adds to a slowly growing list.
A’Dam Lookout is located at the top of The A’dam Toren (Tower), a building situated across a body of water from the Central Station. Compared to buildings in other cities, it may be hard to consider it as ‘tall’ since it’s only 21 storeys and a mere 95 metres in height. In this city, however, that already makes it one of the highest within a several mile radius.
On the way up, you get a front row seat to a laser show inside the glass lift. It takes just 22 seconds to ascend all the way up, giving you the feeling of being lifted up towards the clouds.
Upon arriving at the Lookout, you’re greeted with a spectacular view. Since the Netherlands has an exceedingly flat landscape, 95 metres is already more than enough to see it all. On a sunny day, you’ll be able to see the churches and the Royal Palace in downtown Amsterdam as well as the Dom Church in Utrecht that is almost 30 kilometres away. You will also see planes landing and taking off at Schiphol airport, snag a glimpse of the nearby town of Monnickendam, and gaze at the Dutch countryside.
Also, at the top of the tower is Over the Edge, Europe’s highest swing that caters to those who would like a bit of an adrenaline rush with their view. For EUR5 (USD5.39), it’s possible to swing back and forth 100 metres above the skyline. Don’t worry! It’s safe. There are safety belts that will keep you securely attached to your seat.
It can be freezing at the Lookout during the winter months, so it is best to retreat indoors and go one floor down to Madam, a restaurant where you can enjoy a warmer atmosphere and enjoy one of the Netherlands’ best treasures – a Heineken beer.
As the sun begins to set, a DJ will be playing easy house music to cater to the crowd. A lot of world famous DJs actually come from the Netherlands and the restaurant pays homage to them by flashing them on a screen. There’s Armin van Buuren, DJ Tiësto, and Paul Garrix, to name a few.
The Amsterdam Tower used to belong to Royal Dutch Shell, the gas company. After Shell abandoned the building, an extra floor was added. The building now hosts more than 20 companies, a hotel, three restaurants, and a nightclub called Shelter.
Often overlooked is the revolving restaurant, Moon, on the 19th floor. It offers a 360° view of Amsterdam while you have a meal. Don’t worry. It doesn’t go too quickly so you won’t get dizzy – it takes about 60 minutes to complete a revolution. Signature chef Jaimie van Heije and chef de cuisine Tommy den Hartog specialise, as they claim, in classical dishes with a modern twist, using only carefully sourced local and seasonal ingredients.
Getting to the tower is quite easy – just take a ferry from behind the Central Station to cross the IJ. Such a strange name for a body of water, isn’t it? The Netherlands is quite strange in the naming department. Amsterdam originally meant ‘Dam in the river Amstel’. The nearby city of Edam, world famous for their cheese, has a name that means ‘Dam in the river ‘Ee’. The French word for water is ‘eau’, so maybe it is not so strange after all?
The ‘IJ’ used to be a bay but was disconnected from the sea in the 19th Century due to a number of storms and flooding that changed the Dutch landscape. Nowadays, the water level is regulated by the Dutch and turned into an almost fresh body water. There is just a little bit of salt dripping in through a system of locks west of Amsterdam. Via the IJ, ocean liners are also able to moor downtown at this small but busy city.
The ferries from Central Station run free 24/7 and can take you to 4 different destinations in Amsterdam Noord (North) so you better make sure you board the right one that goes to Buiksloterweg. The journey takes about two minutes.
Here’s a little trivia for you, readers: The area where the Amsterdam Tower is was known as Galgenveld, or ‘the gallows’, back in the day. Between the 14th and 18th century, about 1000 convicted criminals were executed here and all locals could see them hanging from the other side of the water. Pretty interesting, right?
The A’Dam Lookout
Adults: EUR12.50 (USD13.47)
Kids: EUR6.50 (USD7.00)
Buying tickets in advance is highly recommended.
You can visit their website by clicking here.