Amsterdam Sights Sightseeing Main Attractions

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Amsterdam  Attractions  Sights & Landmarks

Amsterdam is in many ways a very  diverse city. The contrast between the tranquility of its 13th century courtyard and activity in the Red light district being one example. Architecturally Amsterdam it is very diverse as well with many enchanting buildings from the last two or three centuries and bizarrely an art gallery in a awful concrete box. The are many contradictions in this city – its legal to smoke cannabis in a cafe  but not the tobacco its rolled in! The city is very  commercial and sometimes not very welcoming to tourists and consequently  not an  accurate reflection of Dutch society which can be very tolerant..

Amsterdam Canals – Due to the amount of beautiful canals in the Dutch capital some refer to it as ‘The Venice  Of The North’. With over 150 canals spanned by eight times as many bridges and surrounded by over 6.500 historic buildings this city outshines Venice The first canals in Amsterdam were created to defend the city from intruders in the middle ages and manage the water. The Canals were integral in the City’s financial success in the 17th century, a maze of canals meant that merchandise and produce could be brought to the city from all over the world. The four main canals in the city centre are the Prinsengracht, Herengracht, Keizersgracht and Singel. You can go on a tour cruise or rent your own boat from 5 different locations/

Albert Cuyp MarketAlbert Cuypstraat, Amsterdam The Cuyp Market is in the De Pjip district of Amsterdam. It is regarded as one of the busiest outdoor markets in all of Europe with thousands of people flocking to Albert Cuyp every day. The Market commenced trading over 100 years ago in 1904. There are over 300 stalls offering a wide range of fresh produce including Fruit and Vegetables but they most well known for their Herrings and Cheeses of all kinds. You may also purchase beautiful spices, well priced clothing and bedding.  For those who are on a budget, the market has a range of great deals which make this bustling  market even more attractive to visit. There is a whole host of Cafe’s and small shops beside the market if you wish to rest your feet or get away from the crowded atmosphere of the market.
Leidseplien Square, Central Amsterdam = Leidseplien is arguably Amsterdam’s biggest and most popular centre for nightlife. The bars are often packed with fun loving characters and those who are looking to make new friends may wish to frequent the square. Liedseplien us renowned for its vibrant atmosphere and colourful appearance. For those who are not interested in clubbing or drinking there are cinemas and theatres  as well as a good range of relaxing restaurants with various different cuisine available. The square is home to street entertainers such as jugglers and most are dazzled by the talents of the local break dancers. Leidseplien also acts as the Transport hub  and to get here from Central Station take Trams 1, 2 or 5.
Dam Square Dam, 19 1012 JS Amsterdam = Many regard Dam Square to be the heart and soul of Amsterdam. The Square outside Amsterdam Centraal Station has a riveting history with perhaps the most famous piece of that history coming in 1808 when Napoleon arrived at Dam Square with his soldiers. The square is synonymous with a certain bird just like Trafalgar Square in London and that is the pigeon, During the day the place is often littered with pigeons. Many like to take sometime to relax from their exploits in the square as it has a certain peaceful feel about it. The Royal Palace is located in the Square and is famous for its fine sculptures.
Oudekerk Oudekersplien 23, 1012 GX, Amsterdam – The Church used as a place of Catholic worship but these days the building is seen as a symbol of  Dutch Protestantism, a distinctive  sign of national pride unique to Holland. The Oudekerk is infamous for its 17th century grand organ and is the home of the International Organ Festival which takes place every summer here. One of the churches’ visual delights is the Bell Tower designed in a Gothic Renaissance style. In days gone by Sailors would use the octagonal Bell Tower to get their bearings. The Church has a modern and calm feel about it today and many view it as a major part of Amsterdam’s present and past.
Vondelpark 1071, AA, Amsterdam – The Park is the biggest in the Dutch capital and many regard it as the most renowned park in the whole country. An estimated 10 million people a year frequent Vondelpark which was first discovered in 1864. Like most parks it is utilized for dog walking and jogging and I cannot think of a more beautiful setting to relax or exercise in. There are free concerts and open air theatre performances held in the beautiful outdoor surroundings of the park during the summer and you’d be missing out if you didn’t attend one of these.  The park is close to the Van Gogh Museum and Rijks Museum so those who have spent the day walking round these museums may fancy having a relaxing sit on the grass on their way back.
Jordaan, Amsterdam – Jordaan began life as a working class area but has evolved in to one of the trendiest and expensive places in the City. Known for its narrow streets, Jordaan has a certain character and atmosphere that drags visitors back here year after year. The district is an ideal destination for modern art lovers and Jordaan is full of art galleries. The incomparable 17th century painter Rembrandt spent his last years in Jordaan and was buried in the tall Westerkerk Church just beyond Jordaan. Anne Frank’s house  where she went in to hiding during the second World War  is situated on the Prinsengracht Canal. Markets are held regularly at the NoorderMarket [Northern Market] where the main produce sold is Textiles. On  Saturday’s a specialist Organic Farmers Market is held.

Housed in a very unattractive modern concrete box which could be the entrance to a metro station the Amsterdam’s Van Gogh Museum – Paulus Potterstraat 7, 1071 CX Amsterdam The museum has the worlds largest and finest collection of Van Gogh’s paintings with over 200 paintings complimented by 500 sketches. The museum also has exhibitions of other 19th century artists website

The Rijksmuseum, HJan Luijkonstrant 1, 1017 CJ, Amsterdamollands leading museum is nearing the end of a major refurbishment and sadly many of its treasures cannot be seen at present. The museum has endeavoured to display key works from the 17th century which is often called the Dutch Golden Age including Rembrandt’s the ‘Night Watch’. Other works by de Hooch, Gerard Dou, van Heemskerck, Paulus Potter, Jan Steen, and Vermeer are also featured. The museum also has two 17th century Dolls Houses complete with their furniture and some excellent examples of Delftware. website

More sobering is Anne Frank House Prinsengracht 267 1016, GV, Amsterdam where for just over two years Anne Frank lived with her Jewish family and a couple of riends lived in a secret annex at the back Prinsengracht 263 during the Nazis occupation of the city in WW2. The childhood diary of Anne Frank account of her incarceration is legendary as sadly they were betrayed and sent to their deaths at concentration camps. (see Auschwitz and Birkenau Guide). Anne Frank’s House website

Magere Bridge, is the most famous of Amsterdam’s classic wooden draw bridges. Built in 1871 to replace a smaller 1670 bridge It spans the river Amstel near the Carre Theatre between Keizersgracht and Prinsengracht During the day it is raised 2 or three times an hour. At night is floodlit and popular with lovers!

The splendid Amsterdam Royal Palace Neiuwezjds Voorburgwal 147, 1012 RJ, Amsterdam  – situated in the centre of Amsterdam in Dam Square was built in the second half of the 17th century as the city hall. Artists and Sculptors including Rembrandt were commisioned to decorate its interior. In 1806 during the city’s occupation by Napoleon it was renovated and converted to a palace. Some of the Emperors original furnishings remain to this day. For opening times.see website

The Netherlands Maritime Museum Kattenburger Plein 1,1018 KK – Amsterdamhas dozens of ships that were part of the Dutch Navy during the country’s imperialistic era. One replica ship moored on the jetty outside has actors re-enacting the role and life of sailors. website

Probably the most fascinating part of Amsterdam is the The Begijnhof Courtyard Nieuwezjds, Voorburgwal 373, 1012 RM Amsterdam – which dates back to the 14th century. The earliest surviving building in this completely enclosed courtyard is dated 1420. The Begijnhof was built as a sanctuary for the Begijntjes, a Catholic sisterhood who a lifestyle similar to nuns but without taking vows.

On the south side of courtyard there is a 15th century English Church still blessed with its original tower. Children will appreciate the Kinderboerderij De Pijp (Children’s Farm) at Lizzy Ansinghstraat 82 Tel. 020 664-8303. The animals mentioned above, kids can get close to include donkeys, ducks goats peacocks pigs ponies and turkeys. The farm is open Wednesday to Monday from 1 to 5pm; admission free.

Probably not a priority for many people these days but worth a visit even if your only window shopping is the famous Amsterdam Diamond Centre (Gassan)) Rokin, KK 1012 1-5 Dam Amsterdamtr –  Buyers are also welcome. Address Rokin 1-5 Trams 4, 9, 14, 24, 25. Opens 10am daily Closes Mon Tue & Wed 6pm – Thurs Fri, & Sat; 8.30pm and Sunday

If you need an innocent excuse to go to the red light district the Nieuwe Kerk (New Church) in the Old Centre could be your salvation. Built in 1408 it survived two fires in the same century and was later left in ruins by the Great Fire of 1645. During its fiery history it also lost many of its fittings- including the altar during the Reformation. It also boasts a fine three hundred year organ often used in the churches frequently held concerts and recitals. Public exhibitions are often staged here as well.  Generally open from 10am to 6pm but this depends on what’s on. Trams 1, 2, 4, 5, 9, 13, 14, 17, 24, 25 .For more info see website

In its hey day the Heineken Brewery at Stadhouderskade 78 was the haunt of pub lads wanting to get completely ratted for a couple of quid the admission charge for a tour of the brewery an access to as much beer as they could down en route. Those day ended about twenty years ago when the beer production ceased and nowadays the old brewery is home to the the Heineken Experience which is best described as a virtual experience following a Heineken bottle on a journey through a brewery. Admission to what has to be one of the most absurd exhibitions anywhere in Europe is around €15 – quite a high price for the one green bottle you sample at the end. The website really does take the xxxx. Trams 6, 7, 10, 16, 24, 25 if you really must. Open from 11am -6pm daily. website

The Artis Zoo at Plantage Kerklaan 38-40 which is reportedly the third oldest zoo in the world has recently been developed. In addition to a 19th century aquarium in the form of a canal it has a seemingly real rain forest along with two museums ( one geological the other zoological. There is also a playground and area where children can stroke individual animals. There is a modern restaurant if you choose (which les enfants may expect) to spend the whole day here. Many visitors comment on the informal atmosphere here. Open daily from 9am to 6pm in the summer and 5pm in the winter.  Admission circa €18 with 10 – 25% concessions. Free for children up to  three years. Trams 6, & 9 to Plantage district. website



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