The Nieuwezijds Voorburgwal is a street in the centre of Amsterdam. The street runs more or less north-south, and the Raadhuisstraat runs west. The street name means 'New Side Front Bastion Wall'. In the 14th century, the city of Amsterdam was equally divided in two parts, each at one side of the River Amstel. To defend the city against intruders, a canal with a bastion wall (burgwal) was built.
The burgwal protecting the oldest of the two sides was called the Old Side Bastion Wall. The bastion wall at the new side was called the New Side Bastion Wall. When in 1385 a new bastion wall was built with a canal – behind the old bastion walls – those were now called New Side Behind Bastion Wall and Old Side Behind Bastion Wall. The original bastion walls were then renamed as New Side Front Bastion Wall and Old Side Front Bastion Wall.
In Dutch, these names are often written as one word, hence the extraordinarily long names for these four canal streets: Nieuwezijdsachterburgwal, Nieuwezijdsvoorburgwal, Oudezijdsvoorburgwal and Oudezijdsachterburgwal. When the canals of the bastion walls at the new side were filled in, the Nieuwezijdsachterburgwal was renamed as Spuistraat. Nieuwezijdsvoorburgwal kept its name. The Nieuwezijds Voorburgwal contains a number of famous buildings, including the Royal Palace of Amsterdam, the Nieuwe Kerk, the Amsterdams Historisch Museum and the former main post office which is now the Magna Plaza. To the east is a series of small alleys.