One of the world’s oldest botanical gardens, the Hortus has been a place for education and research in the field of botany for the last 375 years. It’s now a living museum, popular with both locals and visitors. Bridge 232, however, remains under lock and key, and public access to the Hortus is restricted to the main entrance on Plantage Middenlaan just around the corner.
Constructed in 1877, Bridge 232 is an iron footbridge with arched trusses and masonry abutments. The ironwork on this national monument is understood to have been carried out by H. Dalhuizen Kampen. The decking is composed of wooden slats, and the abutments are topped with ornamental columns. The gate, which is sympathetic to the original design, was added at a later date.
The below image from Amsterdam’s City Archives was taken by Jacob Olie in 1892. His photograph shows that Bridge 232 has remained largely unchanged for more than 120 years – although there was no entrance gate, and the bank-side pillars were painted white when this image was taken.
No further information is given on this photograph, but it appears that two men are in mid-conversation at the crown of the bridge. A boy stares squarely at Olie’s camera.
In 2015, Bridge 232 was used as the backdrop for an installation during the Amsterdam Light Festival. The colour-shifting piece, entitled Friendala, was designed by Chilean artists Macarena Meza and Daniela Orallana as an invitation to “dream by means of light”.