Things to Do in Amsterdam - page 2
Take a break from urban Amsterdam and discover Vondelpark, an English-style green spacegetaway in the heart of the city in Vondelpark. Opened in 1865, the 111-acre (45-hectare) park boasts an open-air theatre, a film museum, a lake, and a riding school. Several cafés, restaurants, and museums make the park a year-round attraction.
The largest science museum in the Netherlands, NEMO features four stories of interactive exhibits and hands-on experiments and is housed in one of the city’s most interesting buildings. Designed by Italian architect Renzo Piano, the NEMO building looks like a green, copper-clad ship rising out of Amsterdam’s Eastern Docklands.
The Amsterdam outpost of the Madame Tussauds wax museum empire is filled with eerily accurate look-alikes, from Dutch royalty to internationally known figures from film, music, sports, and politics. Displays change regularly to keep things topical, though some classic figures, such as Marilyn Monroe and E.T., are constant fixtures.
Once a simple butter and dairy market, Rembrandtplein is now one of Amsterdam’s liveliest squares. Sandwiched between the Mint Tower and the Amstel River, the square takes its name from the city’s most famous baroque painter, Rembrandt van Rijn, and a cast-iron statue of the artist sculpted by Royer has stood proud in the heart of this public space since 1876.
Established in 1838, Artis Amsterdam Royal Zoo(Natura Artis Magistra) was the first zoo to open in the Netherlands. It covers more than 35 acres (14 hectares) of shady tree-lined pathways and landscaped botanical gardens in Amsterdam’s Plantage neighborhood. The zoo is home to more than 900 species of animals, some in majestic 19th-century compounds.
Dating back to 1862, Amsterdam’s Bloemenmarkt (Flower Market) is the world’s only floating flower market. Traders used to sail in from the countryside to sell their flowers along the canals. Today, the market consists of more than 15 houseboats with stalls from local florists and other small vendors.
Mint Tower (Munttoren) is located on busy Muntplein Square in Amsterdam, where the Amstel River and the Singel Canal meet. Built in 1487 as part of Regulierspoort, one of the main gates in Amsterdam's medieval city wall, Mint Tower was mainly used to mint coins until it burned down in 1618.
A visit to the old brewery at the Heineken Experience is a must-see for beer lovers in Amsterdam. During the 90-minute self-guided tour, you'll learn the history of the Heineken beer family, find out how the brand's logo has evolved over time, learn about the complete brewing process from beginnings to bottles—and, of course, taste the goods for yourself.
Museum Our Lord in the Attic (Ons' Lieve Heer op Solder) is one of the oldest museums in Amsterdam. The attic of this 17th century canal house conceals a secret church, where Catholics of the Dutch Reformed Church who were unable to worship in public held their services.
A merchant purchased the building during this period, and he and his family lived on the ground floor. Catholic masses were officially forbidden from 1578 onwards, but the Protestant governors of Amsterdam generally turned a blind eye, as long as churches such as this one were unrecognisable from the outside.
The lower floors of the building became a museum in 1888 and today contain refurbished kitchens and other rooms housing a collection of church paintings, silver, and various religious artifacts. Visitors can explore the building’s narrow passageways and stairways while marveling at the ornate furniture and works of art. The church organ, located opposite the altar, was built by Hendrik Meyer in 1794 especially for the church, and is still regularly played.
The Houseboat Museum (Woonboot Museum) is a traditionally furnished houseboat that gives visitors a sense of everyday life on Amsterdam’s canals before modern times. A former freighter named the Hendrika Maria, the boat is completely furnished and has displays and models to show how life on the canals has changed through the decades.
More Things to Do in Amsterdam
The scenic Dutch village of Zaanse Schans is most famous for its windmills, once used to power everything from paint-making to paper production. Today, the Zaanse Schans is set up like an open-air museum, with five working windmills open to visitors. Wander the village, view the preserved architecture, and watch the locals at work—in their traditional wooden shoes and Dutch garb, naturally. Green wooden houses, a historic shipyard, and a pewter factory are among the village’s top attractions.
Amsterdam is known for its canals, and they are well celebrated at the Museum of the Canals, or Het Grachtenhuis, which opened its doors in 2011. The museum showcases a series of exhibitions devoted to the history of Amsterdam’s canals and the city development project behind them, from miniature city models to 3-D video projections.
Located in four former Ashkenazi synagogues, the Jewish Historical Museum (Joods Historisch Museum) is the only museum in the Netherlands dedicated solely to Jewish culture and history. The museum’s collections celebrate past and present Dutch Jewish life, and a separate children’s museum explores Jewish culture and traditions in a fun and interactive way.
Dr. Gunther von Hagens’ acclaimed but somewhat macabre exhibitions have been traveling the world for 20 years, visited by more than 40 million people. Now, he has set up a permanent home in Amsterdam’s city center for Body Worlds: The Happiness Project, which highlights the benefits of happiness and exercise to the human body.
The National Holocaust Memorial (Hollandsche Schouwburg), once a grand theater, now functions as a memorial to the many Jews deported from Amsterdam during the Second World War. During the Nazi occupation of the Netherlands from 1940 to 1945, Jewish people were held at the theater before being taken to transit camps and eventually concentration camps.
Amsterdam Dungeon is a journey into the city’s gory past—petulant plagues and torture of the Dark Age, the Spanish Inquisition, scurvy-ridden sailors along the riverbanks, and more. Through simulator rides, interactive shows, and a scary labyrinth, this popular attraction mixes 500 years of horror with a bit of kitsch, humor, and thrills.
Amsterdam’s most important Roman Catholic church, the Basilica of Saint Nicholas was built between 1884 and 1887 and is one of the city’s most recognizable icons thanks to its striking neo-Baroque and neo-Renaissance features. An intricate rose window made in the acclaimed Van den Bossche and Crevels workshop adorns the facade.
The New Church (Nieuwe Kerk) is among the most important churches in Amsterdam, though these days the predominantly neo-Gothic structure serves not as a house of worship but as a museum and exhibition space. In addition to hosting exhibits and organ performances, it's also used by the Dutch Royal Family for investitures and weddings.
Amsterdam's Modern Contemporary Museum (Moco Museum) features a wide range of inspiring art, including notable exhibits by mysterious British street artist Banksy, surrealist Salvador Dalí, and pop artist Roy Lichtenstein. The Moco Museum primarily features artists who have their own (often ironic) vision and is a privately owned initiative of gallery owners who have worked with renowned artists such as Keith Haring, Andy Warhol, Jean Michel Basquiat, and Picasso. The classic Dutch mansion that houses the museum was designed in 1904 by Eduard Cuypers, cousin of architect Pierre Cuypers, who designed the nearby Rijksmuseum.
One of Amsterdam’s most famous central squares, the busy Leiden Square (Leidseplein), claims a prime location south of the city’s canal ring and opposite the popular Vondelpark. Once a 17th-century transport stand for horse-drawn carriages, the square is alive with street entertainers and remains a vibrant hub for shopping and nightlife.
Built in 1611, the Zuiderkerk (Southern Church) was the city’s first Protestant church and remains one of its most memorable landmarks. The church’s striking facade and distinctive bell tower have been painted by Monet, while Rembrandt reputedly paintedThe Night Watch there.
Topping off the western side of Amsterdam’s plush Canal Ring and crossing into the bohemian enclave of the Jordaan, Brouwersgracht is an enticing canal lined with narrow, gabled townhouses and former warehouses with façades that tilt precariously forwards. Connecting the canals of Singel and Singelgracht, it has been voted the prettiest street in the city and its length is home to hundreds of houseboats moored chaotically along the bank. In the 17th century known for its tanners and brewers, the canal has lost little of its tranquil atmosphere even though many of its houses have been converted into luxurious apartments and boutique hotels. It also has some architectural highlights: Brouwersgracht 2 has one of the best examples of 16th-century step gables in the city; the row at Brouwersgracht 188–194 were formerly warehouses storing leather, coffee and spices, and sport a series of identical spout gables dating from the 17th century; and several houses, including no 162, have graphics of fish above their doors, indicating that they were once premises dedicated to the processing of herring and other fish caught locally.
Home to one of the Netherlands' most celebrated collections of modern and contemporary art, the Stedelijk Museum contains works ranging from iconic Andy Warhol prints and impressionist paintings by Matisse and Cezanne to Rodin sculptures. One entire gallery is devoted to Dutch Art Nouveau (De Stijl).
The Ripley’s Believe It or Not franchise is known for displaying astonishing information and objects you simply have to see to believe. Outrageous items on display at this Amsterdam museum include a 23-foot (7-meter) tall robot made of car parts, a shrunken head from the Amazon rain forest, and an ancient T-Rex skull.
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