Café de Sluyswacht was built in 1695 as a lockkeeper's house on the St. Anthoniesluis. The lock keeper operated, checked and maintained the lock in the service of the municipality of Amsterdam. The lock itself was built in 1602 to replace a dam between the Oude Schans and the Zwanenburgwal, the eastern defensive waters of the old city center.
The locks served a dual purpose: to prevent enemy ships from entering the city and to regulate the outflow of the river water from the Amstel via the canals to the Zuiderzee estuary, the IJ. They still fulfill the last function: in this way the water in the canals is regularly refreshed.
The oldest image of the St. Anthoniesluis is a drawing from the mid-17th century by Rembrandt van Rijn, who then lived in the house opposite with the red shutters. This building - bought by Rembrandt in 1639 - is now a museum for his etchings and bears his name: the Rembrandt House.
The Sluyswacht was from the beginning in a neighborhood nicknamed the Jodenhoek: the center of Jewish living and working in Amsterdam. In the 2nd World War the vacancy and impoverishment of the neighborhood started. In the mid-1970s, despite fierce protests, much was demolished for the construction of the Metro. The protests did result in a lot of social housing being built on the empty places in the neighborhood.
The Sluyswacht is one of the monuments that have been preserved. After years of neglect and various destinations, the building has been completely restored and has been used as a café for five years. It is literally in the shadow of the brand new Amsterdam School of the Arts (opened in 1997 by Queen Beatrix).
The beautiful, sloping house with a surrounding terrace and a view of the Oude Schans and Montelbaanstoren is now protected as a national monument.