Become stranded on Nova Zembla

The Amsterdam Icebar takes you on a voyage to the Arctic, here you will follow in the footsteps of Dutch explorer Willem Barentz and experience what it was like to be stranded on the North Pole at the end of the 16th century.

In June 1594, Willem Barentsz and his crew set off on their first journey to find the Northeast Passage. It was believed to be a new and shorter route to the Indies. The crew made it a long way, meeting polar bears and walruses along the way. But they were forced to turn around when they were faced with large icebergs.

A year after his return, Willem Barentsz went on a second trip to find the passage. This time he took a different route. But now he had to turn around because of unexpected weather that had left the Kara Sea frozen.

Third time's a charm, or not...

In total, Willem Barentsz made three voyages searching for the Northeast Passage. The last and third one being the most famous one. This is the adventure you’ll experience when visiting the Amsterdam Icebar.

In May 1596 Willem Barentsz decided to try one more time. The voyage went great until they were close to the island Nova Zembla in July. The ship got stuck between the many icebergs and floes and wasn’t able to move in any direction. Left with no other choice than to sit out the winter on Nova Zembla, Willem Barentsz crew used driftwood and lumber from the ship to build a lodge they called ‘Het Behouden Huys’ (The Saved House).

Barentsz and his crew of 16 were stranded on the island for almost a full year. In January 1597, they were the first to witness and record the atmospheric anomaly now known as the Novaya Zemlya effect.

During their stay, the crew were continually under threat from both polar bears and the extreme cold. Polar bears are native to the area and far outnumbered the humans, the bears even turned the stranded ship into a wintertime abode. The crew's primitive guns were no match for the great bears. Meanwhile the cold was so extreme that when the crew attempted to warm their feet by the fire, their socks would burn before they felt the warmth.

By June of 1597 they grew desperate as the ice maintained it's grip on the ship. The survivors decided to take their chances on the water and took two open boats to leave the island behind. Soon after 20 June 1597, Willem Barentsz died at sea. It took seven more weeks for the boats to be rescued, with only 12 crewman surviving. It was not until November 1597 that they returned to Amsterdam.

The Icebar experience

The Amsterdam Icebar recreates the experience of Nova Zembla. Feel what it’s like to sit in the cold as the icebar is kept at a constant -10 degrees Celsius and keep warm by drinking alcoholic beverages. Luckily you’ll be presented with a warm coat and gloves to help you keep warm when you enter the Amsterdam Icebar.

Step aboard Willem Barentsz ship and go on an arctic adventure at the Amsterdam Icebar!

What are you waiting for? Your drinks are chilled and waiting!