Posted on: Apr 02, 2013

Visiting NDSM, a rugged shipyard in Amsterdam that turned into a creative hotspot

Mike Klianis

I have been living in Amsterdam for the past 2 years and I have traveled most of it by bike. Or so I thought, until a friend suggested that we visit an abandoned shipyard across the Grand canal at Amsterdam Noord.

He showed me on Google images some photos from the buildings and the surroundings and the whole place looked really interesting.

So, one fine morning, we got on the boat from the rear of the Central station, bound for Ndsm-Werf (the name of the shipyard) and after a few minutes we arrived to our destination.

What really grabs your attention once you get there is the abundance of space and, a decommissioned submarine! While in the center of the city everything is so crowded, here there are huge wide open spaces and places to sit. It is this abundance of open areas and the relative isolation from the city that made this place ideal for major festivals and also made it into a space for expressing an alternative culture of the city.

Another thing that strikes you is the absence of housing. All around, you can see warehouses, industrial plants and office buildings. All painted in gray and dull colors with a small colorful exception. Some student housing that was placed a few years ago (with all the comforts included if I may say so...)and you can see on those houses almost all the colors of the rainbow.

Next to the pier where the boat docks, is the IJ-Kantine. This is a unique cafe, located in the same building where the restaurant for the workers used to be when the shipyard was still operational and is still being operated by the same workers even after they got unemployed.

The buildings of the shipyard are to your right as you get off the boat and the imposing volume of the buildings is dominating the landscape. In one of them, there has even been created a modern skate park which is full of kids (mostly) that practice and make a lot of noise!

South of the main building is the launching ramp and an impressive crane, all worn from time. The surrounding area is full of graffiti of different sizes and views. You have to be observant enough to find them all. Good hunting on that one. Finally, on the left side of the launching ramp is a beautiful coffee, Café Noorderlicht.

For more information about the place visit or

Read the article in Greek at


Comes from the holy land of Pyrgos, studied Greek Philology which is the reason why he is in The Netherlands now. Loves nature, cycling, photography & blogging.