Amsterdam is not a city of heights, in fact, the tallest buildings are concentrated in other cities along the country, such as Rotterdam or The Hague. However, it does have a fantastic urban landscape. There are great viewpoints in the city from where you can enjoy the skyline. If you are passionate about photography, you should not miss the chance to go up in the heights.
We have different options from where to choose from. Massive towers such as the new A’dam Tower or Westerkerk church´s bell tower, both with an entrance fee ranging from 13,50 € for the first one and 7,50 € for the second. However, from the NEMO museum´s terrace you may enjoy the best city views, and for free.
In case you decide to follow Europamundo´s advice and visit the NEMO´s terrace you will enjoy a beautiful panoramic view of the historic centre and other contemporary buildings around it. But, first of all, you´ll be surprised by the curious building that houses the museum. It looks like a ship, and to be more precise, a half-sunk ship! But a half sunken ship!
This enormous building, painted in a bright green colour, is the most impressive interactive science and technology museum in the Netherlands.
The architect Renzo Piano, from Genoa, designed it as a sculpture rather than a building, which was completed in 1997. It has become a must-see in the Amsterdam .
If your passage here is during summertime, you may also enjoy the good weather in the solarium on its stepped terrace. At this time of year, the beach atmosphere is striking. It is an unbeatable option if you are travelling with children.
Located on an island, very close to the Central Station, it can be reached on foot or by the following means of transport:
Tram: lines 1, 2, 4, 5, 9, 13, 16, 17, 24, 25, 26.
Underground: 51, 53, 54. Bus: 42 and 43 at the Kadijksplein stop.
Schedule: Tuesday to Sunday, from 10:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m.
Closed: New Year´s Day (01/01), King´s Day (26-27 / 04), Christmas Day (25/12)
Stomach growling? Fancy having something typical from the Netherlands to nibble on? Are you a cheese lover, but would like to try another classic of Dutch gastronomy? The broodje haring or herring sandwich is the best option.
The variety of cheeses is fantastic and well known, but we would like to tempt you with a complete different and delicious bite.
Altogether, Dutch cuisine is not among the most exciting and varied in the world, but we must admit that it does involve good ingredients. The fish stands out, being very varied and of good quality.
Broodje alludes to a bun filled with butter and different goodies such as cheese, ham, prawns or herring, locally known as haring. Therefore, broodje haring. These usually have raw herring with chopped onion, and some pickling such as gherkin, to balance the whole flavour. A delicious bite, and quite an affordable and healthy alternative.
For those who are not convinced by this version, you can also try herring in the classic “fish and chips” format, presented with a crunchy batter-breading, and a juicy taste inside. It is not the most genuine and traditional meal, but it is another way to taste herring.
This sandwich is somehow a national symbol, everybody is proud of it, even the herring street stalls are usually decorated with the country´s flag.
Attention everybody… Herring has its own holiday! With an unpronounceable name, the Vlag-getjesdag is the day where the new herrings’ arrival is celebrated. The party, also known as “The day of the little flags”, is a large open-air party in the coastal area of The Hague, where there is a parade of boats, games, tournaments and numerous activities for everybody and of course, herring tasting. The festivities reminds us that the best fishing season is from mid-May to the end of June.
As you may have noticed, Dutch is a tricky language to master,but don’t worry when ordering one of these delicious bites, as you can point them out. What would we do without these gestures that have become part of a universal language! These sandwiches can be found all over the city, from fancy restaurants, to street stalls or even in supermarkets. A herring sandwich is the tastiest and most Duch of snacks. A perfect snack to get our strength back and keep up the pace!
Great! Shopping! The Dutch capital is an oasis for this enjoyable activity. There are numerous markets and malls to please all tastes and budgets. Vintage clothes, curious souvenirs, international brands, decorations, antiques shops, and thus a wide variety. Now, the question is... where to go?
While strolling the city, it is easy to find typical and famous markets such as the Flower Market or shopping streets such as the Kalverstraat. However, we recommend you a historical mall, located in a beautiful red brick building, indeed! We are in Amsterdam, so, reddish brick is abundant and is found everywhere. We are referring to the fabulous Magna Square and its interior, which is worth a visit.
The shopping centre, located in the former Post Office, is a downtown landmark. It stands out due to its façade, which is outstanding. Built in 1899, it became one of the most distinguishing buildings in the city. It was in 1992 when the mall was officially inaugurated.
Inside the mall, you can find everything. Shops and restaurants spread over four stories. Women´s, men´s and children´s clothing stores, big music shops, decor, cosmetics, toys, an endless variety to cover all needs and passions. We can even find cheese shops, and hopefully, we arrive on time to taste some of them.
It is a good option for many reasons. One of them is because we are indoor and under cover, considering we are in such a rainy and cool country..
Finding the Magna Plaza is very easy. It is located at number 18, Nieu-wezijds Voorburgwal Street. You can´t miss it as it´s right behind the Royal Palace.
Monday to Sunday, from 10 a.m. to 9 p.m.
STATUE OF ANNE FRANK
Many travellers who come to the Netherlands are looking forward to learning about a character as universal as Anne Frank. Her story is closely related with the Amsterdam, where she spent part of her short life.
Why not delve deeper into history and get closer to the place where Anne Lived? History tell us that this Jewish girl was born in the German city of Frankfurt, but her family fled to the Netherlands, when the Nazi persecution intensified. Fear of Hitler´s supporters and the economic crisis pushed the Frank family to move in search of a better future.
For this reason, they settled in the Dutch capital and quickly integrated into local society. Their intentions are cut short when the Nazis invaded Holland, and soon after, the family goes into hiding in “The Secret Annex”
The rest of the history, we will tell you in our time together in this fabulous country.
The house where the Frank family hid can be visited, but we strongly recommend you to book tickets in advance, and by doing so you’ll avoid the long lines that usually are formed at the entrance of the site.
If you could not get tickets to see the humble house where they hid from the Nazis, you can always go to see the statue that pays an homage to her beloved figure.
The statue is tiny, in fact, and it may take a little while to find it. A small and humble figure to remind everyone of Anne Frank. A small tribute from the city that saw her grow until she was sent to the Concentration Camp in Poland. A meeting point for those who want to remember her story and take a souvenir home with them forever.
To find the statue of Anne, installed in 1975, you need to go to number 281, Prinsengracht street. To find your way around is quite easy; you should stand right behind the Royal Palace and follow the street in front of you. By crossing three historic canals, you´ll arrive to the Westerkerk, or Church of the West (on your right). Once there, you´ll find the statue at the foot of the church. And the famous house is behind the church.
Are you ready for a visit to this place of remembrance?
THE NARROWEST AND MOST FAMOUS FAÇADES.
It is well known that the space is a very precious commodity in the Netherlands. It has been like this throughout the centuries, so much that the Dutch people have been reclaiming land from the sea for which they developed a technique known as the “polders”.
This lack of space has forced the houses to have a façade, in general, quite reduced. The fact that taxes were previously paid based on the size of the façade is also vital to understand this phenomenon, that took place specially during the Dutch Golden Age. Therefore, the wider it was, the higher the tax that had to be paid. No wonder that the inhabitants, in order to avoid those taxes, used their imagination and skills to build houses that high and, at the same time, so narrow.
This foretold story explains why we can find buildings with façades slightly wider than a mere meter. Can you believe it?! We will tell you where to find the smallest ones in the city.
Singel 7. Located at the foot of the famous Singel canal, it is the narrowest façade in the city. It measures just over a meter! Keep in mind that it is the rear facade of the house, being the main façade a little wider.
Oude Hoogstraat 22. This is the narrowest house in all of Amsterdam. It measures only 2.02 meters wide and 5 meters deep. It has just a room on each story. Sure thing that living there was quite an experience! Nowadays it can be visited, since the ground floor is a tea and sweet shop and the top floor is a tiny tea room.
In case you have not had enough with these two peculiar houses, you can visit others, such as the one located at 26 Kloveniersburgwal, known as "The coachman´s house" with 2.44 meters. Go ahead and look for these famous touristic sights .
There are no excuses as they are all located in the heart of the city.
FIND THE GIANT WOODEN CLOGS
A fun challenge could be to find some of the giant clogs that are in certain places in Amsterdam. Mainly in souvenir shops where they are usually placed at the entrance. Do you fancy looking around to find them and take a selfie to bring home a wonderful memory? These photos will be funny and amusing.
Some of these wooden clogs are big enough for you to fit inside and make a perfect souvenir photo! This time we won’t tell you where to find them… Surprise!
The Netherlands is a country of very recognisable symbols. One of them is its famous clogs or Komplen. A shoe that has been essential for the Dutch throughout the centuries and that remains at present days part of the country´s heritage.
The typical komplen already existed in the Middle Ages. At that time, they were widely used among the peasants. They were very resistant and useful for everyday tasks. The oldest one is dated from the beginning of the 13th century. It is very difficult to precise when they started to be used because when a clog finished its useful life, it was used as logs for the bonfire. For centuries they were handmade and although today there are still artisans, it is mainly machines that make the clogs.
It is a very safe and resistant footwear, receiving acknowledgement for those reasons. They can withstand falling objects and efficiently isolate the feet from the water. They provide warmth in winter and coolness in summer. Some statistics say that every year six million units are manufactured. They can be found everywhere as souvenirs.
We look forward to seeing your nice photos!
Curiosities about the three Xs!
Don´t be impatient. We are about to tell you the whole story!
Well, the flag is represented by black and red stripes, with three Xs in white. It is intriguing, isn’t it? The origin of the three Xs is somehow confusing. They are not really Xs, but the representation of the three crosses of Saint Andrew, a fisherman who lived in the first century, who was tortured and crucified on a cross with an X shape. In the 15th century the life and the figure of the saint were recovered and popularized in the Netherlands.
There are numerous theories. One of the most accepted is that each cross protects the city from three threats: fire, floods, and black plague. There are scholars who do not accept this theory, since there were some important families in the area who had already used the three crosses before the appearance of the Black Death.
Other sources affirm that the black strip represents the Amstel river and the three crosses, would correspond to three different places where it could be crossed. Interesting, isn´t it? One last theory maintains that each cross represents three virtues: bravery, unwavering and compassion. Apparently, those are the three adjectives that Queen Wilhelmina ordered to carve on the coat-of-arms of the city after the Second World War.
What seems to be clear is that those XXX are in any way related with the popular and Amsterdam´s lively “red” light district.
And now... what do you think about it? Dare to say which theory is the most correct one?
FAMOUS BRIDGES ROUTE
Here we propose you a walk to discover the most distinctive and famous bridges of "the other city of the canals". Amsterdam treasures 160 canals, and to connect the different sidewalks they have built over a thousand bridges. To be more precise, 1281 of which eight are drawbridges.
In Amsterdam there are many bridges, one of the most emblematic is the Magere Brug, also known as Narrow Bridge. It crosses over the Amstel river and its particular shape, with two swivel arms and its narrowness, makes it unique.
We suggest you start this brief route beholding the most photographed and interesting bridge in the whole city. A bridge with a funny story. The legend says that its building, in 1670, was carried out due to the constant complaint of two sisters who lived isolated by the river and looked forward to the construction of a bridge to meet more easily.
From this little bridge, we can see our next destination. We can walk to another bridge that continues to serve the citizens, it is adorable and alike to one that stands in the city of Paris. We are talking about the Blauwbrug or Blue Bridge.
It was built in 1884 for the International Exhibition that took place in the city. Its appearance is inspired by the bridge Alexandre III in Paris. It is a common thing to see hips of tourists taking photos while admiring the formidable views obtained from that place.
Not far from there, the enclave where you’ll be able to admire fifteen bridges standing at the very same position is found. See it to believe it! It is the only place where you can see so many at once.
How do we position ourselves? Well, when you arrive, you have to stand on Reguliersgracht corner Herengracht, on the side of the odd numbers, leaving Rembrandt Square behind. Thus, with your back to Thorbeckeplein, you can see six bridges over the Reguliersgracht and, looking at the Herengracht on your left, another six bridges. Two more bridges are visible on the right and bridge number fifteen is the one on which you are contemplating the panorama. It will be easy to find the exact point, as surely there will be someone taking the famous photo.
The best moment to enjoy this last site is at sunset when the bridges seem to get a completely new life thanks to the amazing light upon them. The hundreds of lights that adorn the bridges create a fabulous postcard. The perfect place for a romantic venue. The itinerary is short, no more than 2 kilometres, but if you prefer to see these bridges without too much effort, you can take a boat and cross the canals passing under these bridges.
THE BEGIJNHOF PATIO
We all deserve a tiny break in Amsterdam. Sometimes, it is necessary to rest from all the wonders that shake our senses continuously in this marvellous city. Other times, we just need to simply disconnect from the hundreds of bicycles coming and going as we pass by. It can be crazy! But ... this is Amsterdam! You may have already noticed that most locals use bikes as their main vehicle, especially in urban locations.
Well, we have found the right place to get away for a moment from the bustle of the city. Additionally, it is right in downtown, so you do not need to walk so far away.
Let’s go to the Begijnhof!
The Begijnhof is a small and quiet neighbourhood located next to the lively Spui Square. It is a very special place, as it used to be a residential area for Beguine nuns. A compact set of elegant, well-kept houses with small gardens where it is possible to breathe peace and tranquillity.
The neighbourhood was founded in 1346, to house a Catholic and lay sisterhood. These women lived like nuns, but they enjoyed more freedom and autonomy. It suffered several fires during the 15th century, although it was rebuilt shortly after. For centuries, the Beguines have been living in this idyllic setting. The last one died in 1971. Today the houses are still inhabited, but no longer by these communities.
The complex is a testimony to the past. It stands out for its architecture and because the oldest house in the city is located there! Located at number 34, it is known as the Het Houten Huys. This little house is one of the two houses that keep its wooden façade in the whole city. You need to know that in 1521, it was forbidden to build anything with wood, in order to prevent fires.
An interesting monument is the former Catholic church, now Protestant, the Engelse Kerk church. It became the first clandestine church in the city and today, from the outside, it seems that it is not a church, but two united houses.
The entrance to this oasis of tranquillity is from the Spui square. Both accesses to the site and the church are free of charge. Visiting hours are from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m.
Come in and enjoy!
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