The Torensluis (Tower Sluice) is an arch bridge from 1649, crossing the Singel at the corner of the Torensteeg. At 42 meter (138 ft) wide it is Amsterdam’s widest and oldest preserved bridge, originally also used as a market place. Below the bridge was a lock.
When the bridge was designed there were plans to build shop buildings on top of it, which when rented out would cover the costs of construction. That plan was abandoned in view of the expected traffic across the bridge. Underneath the bridge the old dungeons (once used as prisons and storage) are still present, open to the public.
Jan Rooden Gate & Tower
The Torensluis bridge replaced a wooden bridge from the late Middle Ages. Across the Singel was Jan Rooden’s ropewalk, after whom the gate and the tower were named. With the new city wall finished in 1590, the Jan Roodenpoort (Jan Rooden Gate) was one of the five smaller gates into the city (beside the three major ones). The gate also had a half-round tower, the Jan Roodenpoortstoren.
The brick city wall (demolished in 1600) had been superseded by the first Amsterdam Expansion (Eerste Uitleg) in 1585 — this tower, now without function not being on the perimeter anymore, was spared. The wooden bridge was renewed in 1602. After the clock tower of the old City Hall was demolished, the Jan Roodenpoortstoren replaced that function in 1617. The half-round tower was given square walls and a 55 m (180 ft) high wooden spire.
The End of the Tower
During the French period the prison was infamous for its cruel regime — so bad in fact that in 1814 an angry mob stormed the tower to free the prisoners. After the French left, the city was so poor that there was complete lack of maintenance, and eventually the tower had to be demolished in 1829.
In 2003 the outline of the old tower was made visible with lighter cobble stones in the pavement (the still solid tower foundation discovered below the road). In the 1950s the bridge was completely restored.
On top of the bridge a bronze statue of Dutch writer Multatuli (pen name of Eduard Douwes Dekker, 1820-1887). He is known for his novel Max Havelaar (1860), denouncing the abuses of colonialism in the Dutch East Indies (now Indonesia).
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