Bike Lane

In Amsterdam, The Netherlands

A brick-paved street and sidewalk with a distinctive tower in the back left and canalside homes and shops (and a Mickey D’s) on the right and bikes bikes bikes right up the middle.

I thought the bell tower actually belonged to a church but it does not.

In fact, I thought it was part of the famed Westerkerk church, the peal of whose bells is almost like a secondary character in the Diary of Anne Frank — providing comfort when they reliably rang during her time in hiding but whose silence created anxiety and confusion when the bells were taken away to be melted down for the war effort. So I looked up Westerkerk to find a fun fact or two about it to share in this post and realized quickly that this is not the Westerkerk bell tower. It should’ve dawned on me that church bell towers don’t usually have clocks on them, as the bells themselves mark the time (and other things).

I learned that this, in fact, is a standalone tower and its name, Munttoren, translates in English to “Mint Tower.” It was originally built in the 15th century as part of one of the main gates (along with another tower and a guard house) into the city. Even though the tower is situated right next to Amsterdam’s wonderful flower market (the short floating structures on the right edge of the canal), it’s not called Mint Tower in reference to the fragrant herb. It’s called Mint Tower because the guardhouse that was part of the original gate was temporarily used to mint coins during a 17th-century war.

Goes to show that when you think something is what it isn’t, you don’t know that it isn’t that thing you think it is until you get curious enough to check your own assumptions and desire to actually learn something you might not (or more likely already don’t) know.

I’ll do a separate post of the actual Westerkerk bell tower another time. I do have a few shots of that.

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