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This article is about the Dutch river. For other uses, see Amstel (disambiguation).
Amsterdam Amstel 20041105.jpg
The river Amstel flowing through the centre of Amsterdam.
Country Netherlands
Province North Holland
Source Aarkanaal
 - location Nieuwveen, South Holland
 - coordinates 52°12′24″N 4°44′05″E / 52.20667°N 4.73472°E / 52.20667; 4.73472
Mouth IJ
 - location Amsterdam, North Holland
 - coordinates 52°22′08″N 4°53′33″E / 52.36889°N 4.89250°E / 52.36889; 4.89250Coordinates: 52°22′08″N 4°53′33″E / 52.36889°N 4.89250°E / 52.36889; 4.89250
Length 31 km (19 mi)
Location of Amstel in dark blue

The Amstel is a river in the Netherlands which runs through the city of Amsterdam. The river's name is derived from Aeme-stelle, old Dutch for "water-area",[1] namely, an area abounding with water.

The well-known Magere Brug bridge in Amsterdam crosses the river, as do the Blauwbrug, Hoge Sluis and Berlagebrug bridges. The Stopera city hall and opera house and Carré theatre are both located on the banks of the river.

A nationally televised concert is held on the river every year on Bevrijdingsdag (Liberation Day). The rowing races Head of the River Amstel and Heineken Roeivierkamp are held on the river annually. The river also forms part of the route of the Canal Parade, Amsterdam's annual floating gay pride parade.

Amstel beer is named after the river. The Amstel brewery, as a lot of other breweries, was situated close to the Amstel river because clean river water was used to produce the beer.


The river originally began where two smaller rivers, the Drecht and Kromme Mijdrecht, joined together, a little south of Uithoorn. After the construction of a canal, the Amstel-Drecht Kanaal, the river (including the canal) now begins where the Drecht and another canal, the Aarkanaal, meet one another, near the town of Nieuwveen. Tributary rivers are the Kromme Mijdrecht, Bullewijk and Waver.

The river's mouth is in Amsterdam, where it meets the IJ bay. However, in 1936 the last part of the river (called Rokin) was filled in, so the river now ends near Muntplein square, although it remains connected to the IJ through subterranean pipes.

The river contains only one island: Amsteleiland (Amstel Island), at 52°17′15″N 4°53′15″E / 52.28750°N 4.88750°E / 52.28750; 4.88750. The only road leading to it belongs to the village of Ouderkerk aan de Amstel, but the island itself is part of the municipality of Amstelveen. It has an area of roughly 0.05 km².

Places named after the river[edit]

Amsterdam took its name from the river. The city developed out of a small fishing village called Amstelredam, built in the 13th century alongside a dam at the mouth of the river. The town was granted city rights around 1300. The hamlet developed into the small town Amsteldam, which later became Amsterdam.

The area through which the river passes is known as the Amstelland. The city and municipality of Amstelveen, the municipality of Ouder-Amstel, the towns of Ouderkerk aan de Amstel and Nes aan de Amstel are all named after the river as well. Amsterdam has a street called Amstel (along the river), a square called Amstelveld and a train station called Amsterdam Amstel.

In the former Dutch colonies in North America, a town was captured from the Swedes in 1655 and renamed Nieuw-Amstel ("New Amstel"). It is now known as New Castle, Delaware.

The Amstel in art[edit]

The river has been depicted by many artists, including:

Use in films[edit]

  • Diamonds Are Forever (James Bond film), 1971: The body of school teacher Mrs Whistler is found in the river after she dies at the hands of murderous duo of Mr Wint and Mr Kidd, who then photograph her body in the water with the intention of sending the images to the children she taught.[2][3]


The Amstel river in Amsterdam, panoramic view showing the Stopera and Blauwbrug (left) and Amstelhof (right), which houses the Hermitage Amsterdam museum