Amsterdam is the capital and most populous municipality of the Kingdom of the
Netherlands. From its humble beginnings as a 13th-century fishing
village on a river bed to its current role as a major hub for business, tourism
and culture, Amsterdam has had a strong tradition as a center of culture and
commerce. Amsterdam is one of the most popular tourist destinations
in Europe, receiving more than 4.63 million international visitors annually,
this is excluding the 16 million day trippers visiting the city every year.
July 23 ...
- Zaanse Schans
Schans is one of the popular tourist attractions around Amsterdam. It
has a collection of well-preserved historic windmills and houses. From 1961
to 1974 old buildings from all over the Zaanstreek were relocated
using lowboy trailers to the area. The Zaanse Schans is a residential
area, full of wooden houses, mills, barns and workshops, in which the 18th
and 19th centuries are brought to life.
Riding a bike (like a local) is
a good way to see more of the Zaanse Schans, and also a good way to get away
of the crowds.
- Muiden Castle (Muiderslot)
In around 1285, the Count of Holland Floris V (1254 – 1296) ordered the
construction of a stone keep at a strategic location at the mouth of the
river Vecht. In 1296, Floris V was kidnapped during a falcon hunt and later
murdered by his own nobles and his castle was destroyed. From 1370, the
original Muiderslot was restored and expanded by Albert I, Duke of Bavaria,
who at that time was also the Count of Holland and Zeeland. The castle was
strengthened with earthen walls and bastions in 1576. At the end of
the 18th century, the castle was first used as a prison, then abandoned and
became derelict. In 1825, Muiderslot was saved from the wrecker’s ball and
it became a national museum in 1878. Today, the insides of the castle, its
rooms and kitchens, have been restored to look like they did in the 17th
century and several of the rooms now house a good collection of arms and
It began to rain heavily when we drove to Schiphol
airport to return our rental car. I started to worry about our planned
activity (canoe trip) in the late afternoon in Amsterdam. Luckily after we
took the train to the
Amsterdam city center, the rain had stopped and the sky had cleared up!
- Flower Market, Amsterdam
After checked in to
our hotel in Amsterdam, we walked to the floating flower market. Since
it was not really the tulip season, we saw more wooden tulips than the real
- Wetlands Safari
I came across the Wetlands Safari website when I was doing research about
the some outdoor activities around Amsterdam. I immediately felt this
canoe trip will be perfect for us and I quickly decided to book the 5PM
sunset tour. It indeed turned out to be a perfect tour for us:
perfect weather after the rain; there was no one else in this tour so it
became our private tour; good picnic and drink provided by our friendly
guide Majel; and most importantly we got to see the Netherlands in a most
natural and traditional way. We quietly glided through villages
that still are built on land and water, and the 17th century landscape which
is so "Holland" that it looks like the paintings from the Golden Age
masters. In this unique watery landscape dominated by dense reed
lands, we saw numerous water fowl, singing birds, cows and sheep.
July 24 ...
Rijksmuseum is a Dutch national museum dedicated to arts and history in
Amsterdam. The museum is located at the Museum Square in the borough
Amsterdam South, close to the Van Gogh Museum, the Stedelijk Museum
Amsterdam, and the Concertgebouw. We will spend a full day at these
museums and the concert hall.
The Rijksmuseum was founded in the Hague in
1800 and moved to Amsterdam in 1808, where it was first located in the Royal
Palace and later in the Trippenhuis. The current main building was designed
by Pierre Cuypers and first opened its doors in 1885. The museum has
on display 8,000 objects of art and history, from their total collection of
1 million objects from the years 1200–2000, among which are some
masterpieces by Rembrandt, Frans Hals, and Johannes Vermeer.
- Van Gogh Museum
van Gogh (1853–1890) is one of the Netherlands’ most famous artists. At the
age of 27 he decided to become an artist. That decision would change the
history of art forever. In just over a decade he created about 2,100
artworks, including around 860 oil paintings, most of them in the last two
years of his life in France. His suicide at 37 followed years of
mental illness and poverty.
Van Gogh's nephew and namesake, Vincent
Willem van Gogh (1890–1978), inherited the estate after his mother's death
in 1925. During the early 1950s he arranged for the publication of a
complete edition of the letters presented in four volumes and several
languages. He then began negotiations with the Dutch government to subsidize
a foundation to purchase and house the entire collection. Theo's son
participated in planning the project in the hope that the works would be
exhibited under the best possible conditions. The Van Gogh Museum opened in
the Museumplein in Amsterdam in 1973. It became the second most popular
museum in the Netherlands, after the Rijksmuseum.
- Stedelijk Museum
Stedelijk Museum Amsterdam is an international museum dedicated to modern
and contemporary art and design from the early 20th century up to the 21st
century. The Stedelijk Museum opened on 14 September 1895 as an
initiative of the local authority and private individuals, and the new 21st
century wing with the current entrance opened on 23 September 2012.
The museum collection holds almost 90,000 objects, collected since
1874. With important clusters and cores focusing on De Stijl, Bauhaus, Pop
Art and CoBrA and, more recently, Neo-Impressionism, the collection
represents virtually every significant movement in art and design of the
20th and 21st centuries.
- The Concertgebouw
15 September 1881, six illustrious Amsterdam citizens come together to
breathe life into the ‘Provisional Committee to build a concert hall’.
Construction began in 1883 in a pasture near the new Rijksmuseum (which was
being built at that time), just outside the city limits, in the middle of
the Nieuwer-Amstel fields. The hall opened on 11 April 1888 with an
inaugural concert, in which an orchestra of 120 musicians and a chorus of
500 singers participated, performing works of Wagner, Handel, Bach,
Because of its highly regarded acoustics, the
Concertgebouw is considered one of the finest concert halls in the world.
In the time that The Concertgebouw was taking shape, the science of
acoustics was still considered a mysterious combination of many different
and undefinable factors. Architects at that time only had successful
examples to look to. As a result, the Main Hall was based on the
large concert hall of the Neue Gewandhaus in Leipzig, Germany. In later
restorations, the original design and finishing details of the halls were
left intact as much as possible to preserve the sensitive acoustics.
was quite an opportunity for SHS (Symphony Orchestra and Symphonic Band) to
be able to perform in such a great hall. The acoustic was really
outstanding for showing off the power of the brass section!
July 25 ...
Rembrandtplein (Rembrandt Square) is a major square
with many restaurants, cafes, and bars in central Amsterdam. The
Nightwatch 3D sculptures were
created 400 years after the world famous artist, Rembrandt, in 2006 by
Russian artists Mikhail Dronov and Alexander Taratynov.
Since our hotel was just right beside the Rembrandtplein, we passed by the
square in the early morning so that I could take pictures of Woanyu and the
characters in the Nightwatch without anyone else...
The only inner court in Amsterdam with origins dating
back to the Middle Ages. It is estimated that it was built by the end of the
14th century. It used to be a home to the beguines (religious women). Today
it is a beautiful place of peace and quiet in the very heart of Amsterdam.
- Dam Square
The central square of Amsterdam got its name from its
original purpose. Before there was a square, there was a real dam on the
Amstel river. There are several important buildings located by the square
including the 15th century Nieuwe Kerk (New Church) and the imposing Royal
Palace. There is also a stunning
located on the square that commemorates the victims of World War II.
- Canal Cruise
Floating down Amsterdam’s canals is probably one of the
most popular ways to see the city's sights and attractions. While
gliding through the old center of the city you see elegant merchant's
mansions, carillon-crowned churches and the warehouses with their rich
history from Holland's Golden Age in a relax pace.
- Royal Palace (Koninklijk Paleis)
The palace was built as a city hall during the Dutch Golden Age in the 17th
century. The building became the royal palace of King Louis
Napoleon (younger brother of Napoleon I) and later of the Dutch Royal
House. The palace today is used by the monarch for entertaining and
official functions during state visits and other official receptions.
Most of the year, the Royal Palace is open for visitors except when it is
closed for royal events.
- New Church (Nieuwe Kerk)
The church dates back to the Middle Ages; it was consecrated in 1409. Since
then it has formed a stage for local and national history. De Nieuwe
Kerk (The New Church) may seem like a strange name for a fifteenth-century
building, but it distinguishes this church from the thirteenth-century Oude
(Old) Kerk. As the city expanded rapidly, the church on the ‘old side’ of
Damrak (then part of the Amstel river) could not handle the growing numbers
Today, the Nieuwe Kerk is no longer used for church
services but is used as an exhibition space and organ recitals.
.For decades, the Nieuwe Kerk Amsterdam has been known for its
high-profile exhibitions about art, photography, and inspiring individuals
- Old Church (Oude Kerk)
800-year-old Oude Kerk ("old church") is Amsterdam’s oldest building and
oldest parish church, founded ca. 1213 and consecrated in 1306. In its
early days the Oude Kerk was a port church where ships were blessed, prayers
were offered for a safe return, and numerous seafarers and naval heroes
found their final resting place. After a comprehensive restoration
between 1955 and 2013, the Oude Kerk now profiles itself as an historical
monument with contemporary art, which involves inviting a diversity of
internationally renowned artists to create new work for this centuries-old
monument. There was a special exhibition by
Sonsbeeck when we visited the Oude Kerk.
The organ in the Oude Kerk
was removed for renovation, so it looked so different from
my last visit 10 years
- Our Lord in the Attic Museum (Museum Ons' Lieve Heer op Solder )
Tucked away in the heart of Amsterdam’s inner city lies a small marvel: Our
Lord in the Attic Museum: a uniquely preserved seventeenth-century house
from the Dutch Golden Age. The Catholic Church was built on the top
three floors of the canal house during the 1660s. It is an important example
of a "schuilkerk", or "clandestine church" in which Catholics and other
religious dissenters from the seventeenth century Dutch Reformed Church,
unable to worship in public, held services. Since 28 April 1888, the church
is open as a museum.
We walked through the famous (or infamous) Red Light
District in the old Amsterdam. We did see a few windows open for
"display" and "business" (no pictures, of course).
- Rembrandt House
Rembrandt purchased the house in 1639 and lived there until he
went bankrupt in 1656, when all his belongings went on auction. For around
the next 250 years the house had a number of different occupants before
being bought by the city council who turned it over to a foundation - it was
finally opened as a museum dedicated to the artist in 1911. Ironically, the
bankruptcy inventory was vital in helping create an authentic recreation of
the home. Today the house gives a good feel of where Rembrandt lived,
worked and of life in the 17th century. The most surprising
thing we learned is that Rembrandt's etchings, not his paintings, were
responsible for the international reputation he enjoyed during his
On the way back to our hotel, we found an Asian
restaurant (Tasty Asia) and we finally enjoyed a simple but quite authentic
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