Torensluis, Amsterdam


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.

Torensluis bridge across the Singel, Amsterdam

Torensluis bridge across the Singel.

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.

Torensluis with Jan Roodenpoortstoren, Amsterdam, painting by H.G. ten Cate from 1829

Torensluis (Tower Sluice) with Jan Rooden­poorts­toren (Jan Rooden Gate Tower), painting by H.G. ten Cate from 1829.

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.

Access to the former prison below the Torensluis, Amsterdam

Access to the former prison below the Toren­sluis.

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.

Lighter cobble stones show the former Jan Roodenpoortstoren, Singel, Amsterdam

The lighter cobble stones show the outline of the foundation of the former Jan Rooden­poort Tower.

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).

Statue of writer Multatuli on the Torensluis bridge, Amsterdam

Statue of writer Multatuli on the Torensluis bridge (2020).

View towards the north side of the Singel from the Torensluis bridge, Amsterdam (2020)

View towards the north side of the Singel from the Toren­sluis bridge (2020).

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