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Archaeological gold mine in the heart of Amsterdam

Did you know that the construction of the North/South metro line (‘Noord-Zuidlijn’ in Dutch) in Amsterdam not only came with a lot of headaches, annoyances and delays but also turned out to be an archaeological gold mine?

The development of the new underground metro line is one of the largest construction projects in Amsterdam ever. Drilling tunnels under the oldest parts of the city was met with a lot of resistance from locals citizens as it caused headaches and sagged buildings.

A wealth of excavated objects of all periods

No less than 700,000 objects were found during the construction of the infamous North/South Line. Since the start of the construction archaeologists dug up all kinds of stuff from the ground; from pot shards to hash pipes and from Nokia 3310’s to coins.

Many historical objects emerged from the construction pits on Damrak and Rokin, where the old riverbed of the Amstel is still deep below street level. In the old days discarded items were thrown in the river and much of it has been well preserved.

All finds have been cleaned, photographed, described and catalogued. A selection of the objects is included in the book ‘Spul’ (translation: ‘Stuff’). On the website www.belowthesurface.amsterdam you can see thousands of objects, arranged in chronological order.

Rokin Station displays

At Rokin Station there are two enormous displays containing 10,000 objects excavated from the bottom of the Amsterdam‘s city center. It showcases everyday items such as lost wallets, phones and specs but also prehistoric spearheads, bones and hamer axes. The displays are located between the escalators at Rokin Station and can be freely visited. Just enter the metro station and go up and down the escalators.

Opening of the North/South Line

Due to a series of setbacks, the North/South Line is completed 7 years later than planned. It also turned out to be considerably more expensive: €3.1 billion in stead of €1.7 billion. The North/South Line will finally open on 22 July 2018.

Tip: Free rides on Saturday 21 July

To celebrate the official opening on 22 July, everybody can ride the North/South Line for free on Saturday 21 July 2018 from 14.00 to 21.00. That afternoon and evening all sorts of festivities take place along the route such as live music performances.

North/South Line

The North/South Line is an important transport artery from the suburbs in Amsterdam North, via the city center to Amsterdam Zuid Station.

The North/South Line will run every 4 minutes during peak hours, with 5-minute intervals during the day and 10-minute intervals in the evening. The eight stations along the route are Station Noord, Noorderpark, Amsterdam Central Station, Rokin, Vijzelgracht, De Pijp, Europaplein and Amsterdam Zuid.

The total length of the route is almost 10km , of which approximately 7km will be underground. The journey time for the entire route is expected to be 16 minutes.

Time-lapse North/South Line June 2012

The North/South Line in short

• Operator: GVB Amsterdam
• Number of stations: 8
• Total distance: 10km
• Average speed: 35km/h
• Maximum speed: 70km/h
• Possible extension to Schiphol Airport in the future

Fun fact

Because the underground route is too narrow for two parallel tunnels, the two running lines are built above and below each other. The metro tunnels run in a vertical alignment between 20 and 35 meters below Amsterdam’s streets, canals and bridges.