Things to Do in Amsterdam - page 4
The Hague’s 13th-century Binnenhof (Inner Court) complex encompasses several landmarks, including the Gothic Ridderzaal (Hall of Knights)—a state building characterized by medieval-style turrets. Now home to the Dutch Parliament, the heritage site attracts visitors with a blend of courtly features and political significance.
Amsterdam’s main arena is also the Netherlands’ largest, with a match-day capacity of almost 55,000. Home to AFC Ajax, the iconic soccer club, the stadium was known as Amsterdam Arena before taking on the name of Dutch soccer legend Johan Cruyff in 2018. The arena hosts regular league games, international tournaments, and concerts.
The Museum of Bags and Purses is the largest exhibition of its type in the world. Located in Amsterdam’s UNESCO-listed Canal District, the museum boasts a 4,000-strong collection of items that trace the history of western accessories from the 16th century to the present day. Browse to your heart’s content, then treat yourself to High Tea.
Amsterdam is known for its wide streets, classic museums and colorful canals. It is also known for its coffeehouse culture and open-minded approach to both cannabis and prostitution. Visitors flock to see the city’s Red Light District, where prostitution is legal and very much out in the open. Red Light Secrets Museum of Prostitution, located in the heart of the area, is the world’s only museum dedicated to the risque profession—offering an eye-opening look at its history in Amsterdam.
Housed in a traditional 17th-century canal house, the small museum aims to educate curious visitors without entering a brothel. Travelers can examine full-scale replicas of luxury brothel suites and wardrobe displays, while also getting the chance to listen to interviews with prostitutes about their daily lives and step into a florescent, red-lit window. The building itself was once home to an operating brothel, facilitating an authentic experience.
Running from Amsterdam Central railway station to Dam Square, The Damrak is often called the "Red Carpet" of Amsterdam. For it is the first site, in all its bustling glory, that visitors see when they exit the train.
The Damrak, as the center of the city, is a bustling thoroughfare, filled with souvenir shops, hotels, and restaurants. Two famous buildings also make their home here: the Beurs van Berlage (the former stock exchange) and the famous mall, the Bijenkorf. From the station, the street ends at Dam Square, site of events and demonstrations of all kinds.
The Damrak is the original mouth of the Amstel River - rak being a reach, or straight stretch of water. In the 19th century, the canal was filled in, except for the canal-boat docks on the east side. Before you reach the Stock Exchange you’ll see a body of water. This is all that remains of the erstwhile harbor. The gabled houses backing onto the water are among the town’s most picturesque. Nowadays the water is home to some of Amsterdam’s many canal tour boat operators.
Standing high in the center of Amsterdam’s Dam Square, the National Monument (Nationaal Monument op de Dam) is the Netherlands’ most important World War II memorial. In 1945, shortly after the end of the war, a liberty pole was erected in Dam Square; it evolved into the present-day 72-feet tall monument, which was unveiled on May 4 1956 by Queen Juliana of the Netherlands. Every May 4 since then, the Dutch royal family and local residents participate in National Remembrance Day and pay their respects to fallen soldiers from both WWII and subsequent armed conflicts involving the Netherlands.
Dutch architect J.J.P. Oud created the travertine stone monument, while John Rädecker and his sons designed the monument's sculptures. One of the most striking features is the Peace relief, which depicts four chained male figures demonstrating the misery endured during the war. The conical pillar is inscribed with a Latin message meaning, "Here, where the heart of the fatherland is, may this monument, which citizens carry in their heart, gaze at God's stars."
Amsterdam’s 19th-century Royal Concertgebouw (Concert Hall) boasts neoclassical architecture, three performance spaces, and an annual program of concerts and cultural events. Renowned for its acoustics, the hall has hosted many legendary performers over the years, and is home to the Royal Concertgebouw Orchestra.
Find out how Dutch people resisted the German occupation during World War II through strikes, protests, underground newspapers, and hiding the persecuted. The Resistance Museum (Verzetsmuseum Amsterdam) brings the horror of the Nazi occupation to life through re-created street scenes and clever dioramas.
Edam cheese, with its distinctive wheel-like shape and fire-engine red rind, is known around the world as one of Amsterdam’s most famous exports. Get to know the mild, semi-hard cheese, which originates in a 12th-century town also named Edam, situated along the banks of the IJsselmeer. Edam is a popular day trip from Amsterdam.
A restored 1920s movie palace, the Pathé Tuschinski Theater in Amsterdam is an opulent place to catch the latest flick. Visitors come to experience its sumptuous period interiors and to watch a blockbuster movie or independent film. It’s centrally located on the city’s famous Rembrandtplein square.
More Things to Do in Amsterdam
Discover Holland’s cultural traditions during a visit to the fishing village of Marken, located on a peninsula an hour by road from Amsterdam. Local workshops and museums offer insight into a bygone era, while the village’s wooden houses, sail boats, and lighthouse provide a picturesque backdrop for exploration.
In 1932, the North Sea coastline of The Netherlands was sealed off by a 30-km (19-mile) dike, connecting the province of Noord-Holland with Friesland. The Afsluitdijk stands 100 meters (328 feet) wide and sits seven meters (23 feet) above sea level, and this outstanding feat of hydraulic engineering closed the mouth of the saltwater Zuiderzee (Southern Sea), shortening the coastline and giving Amsterdam and other low-lying towns protection from repeated flooding by the sea.
In time the Zuiderzee became the freshwater Ijsselmeer – one of the largest lakes in Western Europe – and while large areas of land were reclaimed for farming and housing, many residents of the outlying fishing villages lost their livelihoods. Towns including Volendam, Makkum, Hoorn and Harderwijk turned to tourism for a new lease of life; today the region is a paradise for walkers and cyclists – the 405-km (252-mile) Zuiderzee Cycle Route circles the Ijsselmeer – while the Zuiderzeemuseum at Enkhuizen recalls past times with reconstructed buildings, fishing boats, windmills and displays of traditional Dutch crafts in an open-air museum. Other towns including Medemblik have become top spots for water sports, while former islands such as Marken are now connected to the mainland; its pretty green-gabled village is one of the most popular with visitors to the region.
Through an ever-growing collection of artefacts and art exhibitions, Amsterdam’s National Holocaust Museum provides insight into the human cost of the Holocaust. Opened in 2016, the museum is based in a former teachers’ college that safely harbored hundreds of smuggled Jewish children during World War II.
One of Amsterdam’s busiest shopping streets, Kalverstraat, offers more than 160 retailers, including small local stores and large international brands. This pedestrian street retains its name (Calf Street) from the cattle market that was held here from the 15th to the 17th century. Today, it’s at the heart of Amsterdam life.
In 1634, French philosopher and mathematician René Descartes lived at 6 Westermarkt, just steps from the famous Anne Frank House. He felt at home and spent more than 20 years here, writing most of his major works in the Netherlands. Today Descartes' House (Maison Descartes) is a private residence, though visitors still come to see Descartes’ Amsterdam abode.
Amsterdam’s Allard Pierson Museum is an homage to archaeology, housing a large collection of artifacts primarily from ancient Mediterranean civilizations, with antiquities dating back as far as 4,000 BC. Here you'll find everything from Etruscan statues to Egyptian sarcophagi, along with mummies, pottery, and models of ancient temples.
THIS IS HOLLAND is an immersive attraction that allows visitors to experience the whole of the Netherlands without leaving the capital. In addition to the main Flight Experience—a 9-minute ride that uses multi-sensory technology to simulate a flight across Holland—you can learn about the country’s origins, geography, and culture.
The Zuiderzeemuseum is an outdoor museum focusing on the maritime history and cultural heritage of the Zuiderzee, a Dutch inlet near Enkhuizen, north of Amsterdam. Best known for housing the country’s largest collection of wooden ships, the museum features much more, from old photographs to traditional regional clothing.
This well-known global chain of rock ’n’ roll-themed restaurants opened the doors of its Amsterdam location in 1999. Equal parts restaurant, bar, and museum, the Hard Rock Café Amsterdam offers traditional American fare, inventive cocktails, and authentic memorabilia from John Lennon, Jimi Hendrix, Van Halen, and more.
The House of Bols Cocktail & Genever Experience is dedicated to two of Amsterdam’s oldest alcoholic drinks. Bols was the world’s first distilled spirit, produced in Amsterdam in 1575 by Lucas Bols. Genever is the Dutch equivalent of today’s gin, drunk instead of water in the 17th century as it was believed to hold medicinal properties.
One of Amsterdam’s newest theaters is the Theater Amsterdam, located just outside the city center. The theater was built specifically to host ANNE, a play about the last two years of Anne Frank’s life in Amsterdam during World War II. The contemporary structure now hosts a number of international productions in both Dutch and English.
Most cruise ships to Amsterdam dock at the Passenger Terminal Amsterdam in the Eastern Docklands neighborhood, located just east of Amsterdam Centraal station, which offers efficient transport links to the rest of the city. Travelers have a bevy of options to explore in Amsterdam, from its famed canals to its coffeeshops and the Dutch countryside.
The small, private Museum of Medieval Torture Instruments serves Amsterdam’s tourist crowds, though probably not the faint of heart. It is crammed full of ghastly implements designed to worm the truth out of sinners in medieval times, when torture was considered appropriate punishment for any perceived crime, from adultery to treason.
Regarded as one of the best outdoor markets in Amsterdam, Dapper Market (Dappermarkt) opened in 1910. Its eastern Amsterdam location in a thriving neighborhood of immigrants from many countries lends it a multicultural feel. In addition to fruits, vegetables, and ready-to-eat foods, the 250-stall market also sells inexpensive everyday items.
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