It’s a sensation close to flying, as if you were a bird. You’re rocking in the air, between heaven and earth, enjoying some unique views. Your body tingles from head to toe, the result of adrenaline and excitement. You shout with happiness and raise your arms in surrender to that feeling.
It’s not the closest you’ll ever be to the sky but you do feel something close to flying, playing with gravity and forgetting dizziness. You’re on a swing 100 metres above the city of Amsterdam. It’s the highest one in Europe, is called Over the Edge, and sits atop the A’DAM Toren building.
On the roof of this skyscraper there are two swings, each with room for two people. Besides having a back support, each person has a security harness. Movement is not generated on your own but by a hydraulic system that smoothly rocks you toward the abyss.
The location and the height offer some magnificent views. Literally at your feet is the historic centre of Amsterdam, with its lovely houses at the edge of the canal, the spike-tipped tiles on the roofs. To the west, the port, which is always full of ships; looking east is Lake IJssel; and to the north, small towns and farms surrounded by nature.
It’s a magnet for the daring, for those people who are not afraid of heights or who are addicted to new experiences, whether they’re adults or children (who have to be at least 1.30 metres tall). So much so that it has become one of the city’s principal attractions since being opened in August of 2016.
Inside the 22-storey building there are other activities, along with offices, restaurants, bars and a hotel. People wanting to enjoy the panoramic views, without getting onto the famous swing, can visit the rooftop vantage point, which has a terrace and two restaurants. The experience isn’t quite the same, but it’s worthwhile for the vistas.
This skyscraper has a very interesting past that’s linked to the history of Amsterdam. It was built in the 1960s to house the offices of Royal Dutch Shell, the oil and gas company, and given the name Toren Overhoeks. It served that purpose until 2009, and in 2014 was acquired by some investors who transformed it into A’DAM. This name –besides being a reference to the city’s colloquial denomination– is the acronym for Amsterdam Dance and Music. Even so, the locals still call it Shell Tower.
A’DAM Toren has become a creative space designed for entertainment, and many people predict that it will be a point of reference in the city. Certainly the swing is a huge success, and even though it opened only recently, thousands of people have already experienced flying high over Amsterdam and seeing it from a different vantage point.
When the movement stops and you get off the swing, you feel the adrenaline still flowing through your body and you reach a state of exaltation and excitement. Still not fully believing it, you walk toward the railing of the roof and see those views again. Yes, it’s been real, you finally assimilate it all. You’ve swung over Amsterdam. Inevitably you feel that you want to –need to– do it again. And again, there’s that sensation similar to flying.