Nieuwezijds Voorburgwal, Amsterdam

Nieuwezijds Voorburgwal

The Nieuwe­zijds Voorburg­wal is a former canal (filled in in 1884) which runs from Spui to Martelaars­gracht, more or less in a north-south direction, with on its east side a number of small alleys towards the Nieuwen­dijk and the Kalver­straat. Because of its undulating form it has been suggested that it may have started as a natural water­way, later dug out out to become a man-made canal.

Location of Nieuwezijds Voorburgwal, Amsterdam, on today's map

The location of the Nieuwe­zijds Voorburg­wal on today’s map.

Water from the polders

From the 11th century on the Amstel­land polders to the south were made habitable. The water from the southern polders was collected in the Boeren­wetering canal, which ended somewhere near the Singel­gracht. When the drainage through the Spui (Rokin and Damrak were still water) proved in­sufficient, the Nieuwe­zijds Voorburg­wal was used to direct the water towards the IJ, through the Nieuwe­zijds Kolk at the northern end.

Nieuwezijds Kolk, Amsterdam, around 1880

The Nieuwe­zijds Kolk around 1880, the Nieuwe­zijds Voorburg­wal not yet filled in.
Straight ahead is the Koren­meters­huisje (Corn Weigher’s House).

Old Side & New Side, In Front Of & Behind

Before 1385 Amsterdam was neatly split into two equal halves by the river Amstel: the old side in the east (with the Old Church) and the new side in the west (with the New Church) — each side had a rampart which formed the outer border. When after 1385 new ramparts were created further out on each side, the old rampart canal was named the In-Front-Of-The-Wall (Voorburg­wal) and the new rampart and canal were named the Behind-The-Wall (Achter­burg­wal).

Nieuwezijds Voorburgswal near the Bloemmarkt in 1686, painting by Gerrit Adriaensz. Berckheyde

The Nieuwe­zijds Voor­burg­wal near the Bloem­markt in 1686, painting by Gerrit Adriaensz. Berck­heyde.

Before the Nieuwe­zijds Voor­burg­wal was filled in around 1884, parts of the street were named Pipe Market (Pijpen­markt), Tree Market (Boom­markt) and Flower Market (Bloem­markt). The Nieuwe­zijds Achter­burg­wal is now called Spui­straat and was filled in 1867. The mansions on the Nieuwe­zijds Voor­burg­wal all had large back gardens originally, but these have been completely filled with buildings.

Nieuwezijds Voorburgwal, Amsterdam with Café Scheltema at number 242

Nieuwe­zijds Voor­burg­wal, in the center Café Scheltema at number 242 (2019).


  • Backside of the Royal Palace (from 1648) on Dam square
  • Nieuwe Kerk (New Church), built from 1380 and finished in 1408
  • Former entrance of the Amsterdam Museum at number 367 (orphanage from 1523)
  • Makelaers Comptoir (from 1634) at number 75
  • Magna Plaza (former Head Post Office, built 1895-1899) at the corner of the Raadhuis­straat
  • Die Port van Cleve, formerly an old brewery from 1592, at number 176
  • Building ‘t Einde van de Wereld (the End of the World) (from 1875) at number 4-10
  • Candida building (from 1932) at number 120-126
  • Building Handels­vereniging Amsterdam (from 1888) at number 162-170
  • Around number 280 a small square called Postzegel­markt (postage stamp market)
  • At number 282 the Betty Asfalt Complex (building from 1727)
  • Many newspaper head­quarters were here from the 19th century on; they left between 1967 and 1976
  • Journalists café Scheltema (from 1908) at number 242
Back of the Begijnhof rectory at Nieuwezijds Voorburgwal 373, Amsterdam

Back of the Begijn­hof rectory at Nieuwe­zijds Voorburg­wal 373, in Old-Dutch Neo-Renaissance style, with portrait medallions of 17th century writer Joost van den Vondel and of priest and theologian Leonard Marius (from around 1885, by A.C. Bleys).

Renovations in 2021

The Nieuwe­zijds Voorburg­wal will undergo maintenance and re­development as part of Amsterdam’s project Oranje Loper (Orange Carpet), which includes the renewal of all bridges between Raadhuis­straat and Mercator­plein. The southern part of the Nieuwe­zijds Voorburg­wal (from Paleis­straat to Konings­plein) will be tackled first, from January 2021. The Postzegel­markt will become a small public garden.

Postzegelmarkt around Nieuwezijds Voorburgwal 280

Post­zegel­markt around Nieuwe­zijds Voor­burgwal 280 (July 2019).

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