Castles & Gardens
Fairy-tale castles and gardens, forts, all cycling distance from Amsterdam. Some were part of the Defence Line of Amsterdam (UNESCO World Heritage Site), others were owned by wealthy merchants from the Golden Age. Route includes diverse windmills, farms and gardens well worth cycleseeing!
Level 1: Amsterdam – Muiden (14 km)
1. Weesperhaven and Ringvaart Weesperhaven: an inspiring neighbourhood initiative to create an environmentally friendly harbour. The perfect place to rent an electric boat! There’s also an intact ring dike at Watergraafsmeer, surrounding the lowest part of Amsterdam: 5 metres below water level.
2. Nesciobrug and Diemerpark Award-winning Nesciobrug (Nescio Bridge), at 780 metres length, is the longest suspended cycle and footbridge in Holland. Diemerpark is a picturesque park opened in 2003. Built on what once was the most unpicturesque polluted area in the Netherlands.
3. Fort Diemerdam Part of the 19th-century military Defence Line of Amsterdam. Now a pleasant stop for snacks (only Sunday afternoons).
4. Gunpowder Works “De Krijgsman” The original mill in Amsterdam exploded. Unsurprisingly, permission wasn’t given to build a new factory. So, gunpowder production was relocated to Muiden in 1702. Yes, more explosions followed. The factory finally closed in 2004.
5. Westbatterij The West Battery’s function was to support Muiderslot Castle, defending the estuary of the river Vecht. Built in 1852, advances in war technology made it obsolete by 1885. After years of decay it is now used by a group of sea explorers.
6. Amsterdam Castle (Muiderslot) A proper Medieval castle built in 1296 by order of Count Floris V. What was it like to be a knight or a noble lady? Find out for yourself, by dressing up in a beautiful fifteenth century costume. The castle is open for guided tours (www.muiderslot.nl for opening hours).
Level 2: Muiden – Weesp (4.7 km)
1. Fort H Part of the Defence Line of Amsterdam. Built between 1873-1877, today the fort is a peaceful restaurant and marina.
2. Vecht The river Vecht originates in Utrecht, as a sidearm of the Rhine. In the 17th century traders made their fortune by shipping to the Rhine and Northern Europe through the Zuiderzee (South Sea). Their large country estates can still be seen along the Vecht.
3. Organic farm Groene Griffioen Organic dairy farm, artisan cheese factory and shop. You can’t leave Holland without buying some cheese! Opening times: www.degroenegriffioen.nl
4. Fort Ossenmarkt and Theetuin The fort was built in 1862, as part of the Defence Line of Amsterdam. Theetuin (tea garden) is an oasis of flowers and plants, dating back to 1674.
Level 3: Weesp – Abcoude (9.2 km)
1. Weesp 700 years old, it’s one of the country’s 14 fortified towns. The protected historic centre has forts, windmills, a museum and some very welcoming terraces along the water.
2. Gein River Just 6 km long, it attracts many visitors due to the historic environment.
3. Gein Genoegen Cheese Farm Artisan dairy products straight from the land. Open Thursday – Saturday 9.00 am – 17:00 pm.
4. Mondriaan Molen The Oostzijdse Molen is popularly known as the Mondriaan windmill, because the artist painted it over 20 times. If you ever fancied living in a windmill; it’s available for rent.
5. Fort bij Abcoude (Detour) Oldest fort from the Defence Line of Amsterdam and almost entirely intact. Trees and shrubs in the area make it the perfect habitat for many birds including the kingfisher.
Level 4: Abcoude – Driemond (9 km)
1. Abcoude In 1471 Abcoude was given the right to hold a Free Horse market. This fair grew and has now become a week-long party celebrated annually. Pitstop? Ollie’s Coffee and More, the espresso bar in Abcoude.
2. Abcoudermeer Created around 1400 BC, because of flooding from the Zuiderzee (South Sea). Now used for swimming and skating.
3. Gaasperdam and Gein These areas are undergoing urban renewal, already including a pretty recreational park.
4. Gaasperplas Artificial lake. In 1982, the setting for the Floriade landscape and flower show. Some of the landscaped park still exists.
5. Driemond Literally translated, means “Threemouth” because three small rivers (Gein, Gaasp and Het Smal Weesp) meet here. Nice places to rest up: Villa Tante Bep and the village café of Driemond. Open daily from 16:00.
Level 5: Driemond – Diemen (5.9 km)
1. Gaaspermolen Officially called Community Windmill Number 1, more well known by the name of the river Gaasp, which it serves. One of the oldest working windmills in the Amsterdam area.
2. Weespertrekvaart A boat route constructed In 1639, connecting the Amstel with the Vecht river in Weesp.
3. Diemerbos New forest planted in 1990 to preserve the natural habitat in the area. During the planting, they found the remains of an ancient forest from 3,000 years ago.
4. Schuilkerk De Hoop In the 17th and 18th centuries only the Reformed religious community was allowed to practice its religion publicly. Other religions were tolerated, but their churches should not be recognizable as such. Hence the term “hiding church”.
5. Diemer bridge The original drawbridge was built in 1640. Now it is a remote controlled bridge connecting the old village and the Diemen-Zuid residential area. Feeling peckish? Try Brasserie Otra Más.
Level 6: Diemen – Amsterdam (3.9 km)
1. Vensermolen Part of a series of windmills which stood here throughout the centuries. Now there’s only one left, with no top and no sails.
2. The Bajes Kwartier Former prison complex. Now being replaced by an energy-neutral residential area. Everything demolished will be re-used. The bridges connecting the Bajes Kwartier to the city will be made from the old prison cell doors.
3. Riva Last stop, a modern restaurant, international cuisine and a terrace with a beautiful view of the Amstel River. The perfect way to recover from the ride!