Many also lock their guests out during the day, and there is sometimes a nightly curfew, though these are often late enough as to make no difference.
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Contents Ideas Hans Brinker Very well-established and well-run hostel. Keukenhof Gardens The largest flower garden in the world — bar none. Music is mainly techno, and the most happening clubs tend to be on the outskirts of the city and come and go — see flyers and posters in bars for details.
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Most clubs charge around E10 to get in, often less during the week. But there are several attractions aimed specifically at children, ranging from longestablished places like the zoo — rated as one of the best in Europe — to circuses, ice-skating and city farms. Otherwise just rent a bike, or a canal bike, and take to the streets or water. Contents Ideas Artis Zoo Unusually airy and open for an old citycentre zoo.
But there are one or two — Queen's Day is the big stand-out — which take over the city for a day or two, and others which have deep roots in the city's modern culture, most notably the Cannabis Cup and Gay Pride. It's not particularly worth timing your visit around any event, except perhaps Queen's Day, but if you're here at the right time it's worth knowing what's going on contact the VVV for a full diary of year-round happenings.
The biggest event in the city's calendar, a wild affair in which everyone takes to the streets and waterways in an atmosphere of public celebration and organized debauchery. Herengracht, Keizersgracht and Prinsengracht are the largest and best-known canals, girdling the city centre since they were added in the seventeenth century.
Their gabled houses and numerous bridges are the Amsterdam you see in all the photos — and help to make this such a distinctive and beautiful city. Golden Bend The most opulent, though perhaps not the most characteristic, row of canalhouses in the city. Contents Ideas Bloemenmarkt This floating flower and plant market is a delight — and much cheaper than you might be used to back home. But it has a fantastic array of small stores specializing in everything from condoms to beads, all making for fantastic browsing between sights.
Kitsch Kitchen Fancy kitchen accessories, all in the worst possible taste. Jongejans Ancient spectacles, with and without lenses. His deft brushwork and imaginative approach to composition mean his reputation is as towering as ever. Contents Ideas Self-portrait The artist in his pomp: young, welldressed and going places. Blincker Hi-tech theatre bar on the edge of the Red Light District. Long a republic, it doesn't boast palaces and other structures built to glorify its rulers. Rather, like the rest of Holland, its interest lies in the domestic, in the houses here that were built for the wealthy burghers of the Dutch Republic, and the details that lie therein.
Some have been preserved and are open to visitors see House Museums ; others host homes and businesses and you have to be content to admire them from the outside. Contents Ideas Cromhouthuizen Elegant seventeenth-century houses, built with all the soberness and frivolity of the age. Some have been deconsecrated, and the interiors of the rest are plain and simple affairs more devoted to the practicalities of worship than extolling the glories of God. There are, however, one or two places that are worth seeking out. Contents Ideas Noorderkerk The most spartan of Amsterdam's seventeenth-century churches.
Herring Tip your head back and swallow it, Dutch-style. What you will find are good-value if somewhat dull mainstream clothing along Kalverstraat, top-end stores on Van Baerlestraat and P. Hoofstraat — and plenty of quirky stuff in between. Contents Ideas Ksisk Punky and funky fashions.
Puccini Great cakes and chocolates. Blakes Part of the ultra-style-conscious Hempel chain hotel, with elegant rooms and suites fashioned out of a seventeenth-century canal house.
Bear in mind that most, especially those that are state-run, are shut on Mondays. Nederlands Scheepvaart Museum Homage to the Dutch mastery of the sea housed by the water in the old navy arsenal. Concertgebouw Home to the eponymous orchestra, and generally reckoned to have some of the best acoustics in the world. For longer jaunts, the city has a first-rate public transport system, comprising trams, buses, a pint-sized metro and numerous waterbourne alternatives.
Outside, Stationsplein is a breezy open space, edged by ovals of water, packed with trams and dotted with barrel organs and chip stands, with street performers completing the picture in the summer. St Nicolaaskerk Prins Hendrikkade. From here a stroll across the bridge will take you onto the Damrak, which divided the Oude Zijde Old Side of the medieval city to the east from the smaller Nieuwe Zijde New Side to the west. The handsome seventeenth- and eighteenth-century canal houses that are more typical of the Old Centre are mostly concentrated in the Oude Zijde, which is also home to the world-famous RedLight District.
Thereafter, with the docks moved elsewhere, Damrak became a busy commercial drag, as it remains today, a wide but unenticing avenue lined with tacky restaurants, bars and bureaux de change. The Beurs van Berlage Damrak w www. Usually Tues—Sun 11am—5pm. The imposing bulk of the Beurs — the old Stock Exchange — is a seminal work designed at the turn of the twentieth century by the leading light of the Dutch modern movement, Hendrik Petrus Berlage.
Berlage rerouted Dutch architecture with this building, forsaking the historicism that had dominated the nineteenth century and opting for a style with cleaner, heavier lines.see
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Boats could sail into the square down the Damrak and unload right in the middle of the settlement, which soon prospered by trading herrings for Baltic grain. Hours vary, but normally include Tues—Thurs The exterior is very much to the allegorical point with depictions of Amsterdam as a port and trading centre, that at the front presided over by Neptune and a veritable herd of unicorns. Above these panels are representations of the values the city council espoused — at the front, Prudence, Justice and Peace, to the rear Temperance, and Vigilance to either side of a muscular, globe-carrying Atlas.
Contents Places One deliberate precaution, however, was the omission of a central doorway — just in case the mob turned nasty and stormed the place. There are witty touches too — cocks fight above the entrance to the Commissioner of Petty Affairs, while Apollo, god of the sun and the arts, brings harmony to the disputes; and a relief in the Bankruptcy Chamber shows the Fall of Icarus, surrounded by marble carvings depicting hungry rats scurrying around an empty chest and unpaid bills.
Daily 10am—6pm. The interior is a hangar-like affair, now desanctified and used for temporary exhibitions.
The building is a grand affair, and makes an attractive setting for numerous clothes chains that now inhabit its red-brick interior. The district stretches across the two narrow canals that once marked the eastern part of medieval Amsterdam, Oudezijds Voorburgwal and Oudezijds Achterburgwal. Effectively the main drags of the Red Light area, both of these streets are distinctly seedy, though the legalized prostitution Oudekerksplain.
Mon—Sat 11am—5pm, Sun 1—5pm. The Gothic Dutch naval hero Admiral Michiel de Ruyter, complete with trumpeting angels, conchblowing Neptunes and cherubs all in a tizzy. Ruyter was buried here with full military honours and the church is still used for state occasions: the coronations of queens Wilhelmina, Juliana and, in , Beatrix, were all held here.
Magna Plaza Nieuwezijds Voorburgwal, w www. Daily 10am—7pm. Mon—Sat 10am—5pm, Sun 1—5pm. The story goes that, in , a dying man regurgitated the Host he had received here at Communion and when it was thrown on the fire afterwards, it did not burn. The unburnable Host was placed in a chest and eventually installed here, and although it disappeared during the Reformation, thousands of the faithful still come to take part in the annual commemorative Stille Omgang in midMarch, a silent nocturnal procession terminating at the Oude Kerk. They depict, from left to right, the Annunciation, the Adoration of the Shepherds and the Dormition of the Virgin.
The rest of the house is similarly untouched, its original furnishings reminiscent of interiors by Vermeer or De Hooch. The Schreierstoren Geldersekade. Originally, the tower overlooked the River IJ and it was here that women gathered to watch their menfolk sail away — hence its name. An old and badly weathered stone plaque inserted in the wall is a reminder of all those sad goodbyes, and another much more recent plaque recalls the departure of Henry Hudson from here in , when he stumbled across an island the locals called Manhattan.
Het Scheepvaarthuis Prins Hendrikkade No opening times available at time of going to print. In the meantime, the former postal building on Oosterdokskade near Centraal Station has been pressed into service to accommodate the main body of the permanent collection. One house of special note here is the Trippenhuis, at no. Almost directly opposite, on the west bank of the canal, the Kleine Trippenhuis, at no.
Daily 11am—10pm. The Hash Marihuana Hemp Museum is still going strong, despite intermittent battles with the police. It features displays on different kinds of dope and the huge number of ways to imbibe and otherwise use it. It has an indoor marijuana garden, samples of textiles and paper made with hemp, and pamphlets explaining the medicinal properties of cannabis.
Just beyond, at the south end of Kloveniersburgwal, lies one of the prettiest corners of the city, a small pocket of placid waterway and old canal houses that extends east to Groenburgwal and west to Grimburgwal. Rokin and Kalverstraat Rokin picks up where the Damrak leaves off, cutting south from Dam Square in a wide sweep that follows the former course of the River Amstel.
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A good old-fashioned archeological museum in a solid Neoclassical building dating from the s, the Allard Pierson Museum holds a wideranging albeit fairly small collection of finds retrieved from the Middle East, plus Egypt, Greece and Italy. Every other religious reference disappeared centuries ago, but there is one interesting edifice here, the fanciful gateway of the old Rasphuis House of Correction that now fronts a shopping mall at the foot of Voetboogstraat.
Beneath is a carving by Hendrik de Keyser showing wolves and lions cringing before the whip. The Begijnhof Daily 10am—5pm; free. A little gateway on the north side of the Spui leads into the Begijnhof, where a huddle of immaculately maintained old houses looks onto a central green; if this door is locked, try the main entrance, just a couple of hundred metres north of the Spui on Gedempte Begijnensloot. The Begijnhof was founded in the fourteenth century as a home for the beguines — members of a Catholic sisterhood living as nuns, but without vows and with the right of return to the secular world.
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The original medieval complex comprised a series of humble brick cottages, but these were mostly replaced by the larger, grander houses of today shortly after the Reformation, though the secretive, enclosed design survived. The beguines, meanwhile, celebrated Mass inconspicuously in the clandestine Catholic chapel Mon 1—6pm,Tues—Sun 9am—6pm; free , which they established in the house opposite their old church, and this is still used today, a homely little place with some sentimental religious paintings. A few metres from the Begijnhof, the open-access and free Schuttersgalerij — the Civic Guard Gallery — is lined by an interesting assortment of group portraits of the Amsterdam militia, painted when the city was at the height of its economic success.
The gallery is actually part of the adjoining Amsterdams Historisch Museum, which occupies the smartly restored but rambling seventeenth-century buildings of the municipal orphanage. Dominating Shops Absolute Danny O. Open daily. A good outlet for This shop sells condoms of every shape, size and flavour imaginable.
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All in the best possible taste — though some items stretch more than the imagination. Very nicely set up, with Internet access and DJs on the weekend. Open till 10pm. Traditional homeopathic chemist with any amount of herbs and natural cosmetics, as well as a huge stock of drop Dutch liquorice ; in business at this address since Famous Dutch designer selling handmade shoes with sparky designs.
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