- Amsterdam's centre and canals
- Stedelijk Museum
- Rembrandt House
- Van Gogh Museum
- Anne Frank's House
- Bloemenmarkt and other Amsterdam markets
- Heineken Experience
- Dam Square and the Royal Palace
- Mint Tower
- Western Church
- New Church
- Red Light district
- Around Amsterdam: Delft
- Around Amsterdam: Haarlem
- Around Amsterdam: The Hague
- Around Amsterdam: Keukenhof's Garden
- Around Amsterdam: Zaanse Schans
- Around Amsterdam: Alkmaar
Amsterdam's centre and canals
The centre of Amsterdam has a unique charm thanks to its beautiful buildings with traditional Dutch architecture, picturesque canals and small hidden alleys where you can find fashionable boutiques, exceptional museums and unmissable cafes. The heart of Amsterdam is the Mediaeval Centre, the oldest district in the city and the most touristy, where you can still breathe the atmosphere of the lush past. Nieuwmarkt, a neighbourhood full of clubs and bar is also nice and lively.
One of Amsterdam's greatest beauties is linked to its past and history. The seventeenth century, the famous Golden Age, brought riches and glory, but also posed new challenges, such as the population explosion. It was to cope with this emergency that the canal belt was built around the old city. The main ones are: The Singel (old mediaeval moat outside the walls); Heren, Keiser and Prinzen. Around these 4 a very dense network of secondary channels (160 in all) developed, connected by an equally dense network of bridges (600). An absolutely sui generis urban structure that Unesco listed as a World Heritage Site in 2010. It is in the Amsterdam Canal Belt that you will find many of the main city attractions, not forgetting that the canal boat tour is itself an attraction not to be missed.
Rijksmuseum (National Museum) is the most important Dutch museum and is located in Museumplein, a manicured square-park that also includes the Van Gogh Museum and the Stedelijk Museum, a museum of modern and contemporary Dutch art. Entering will be like taking a trip into the history of Dutch art from the Middle Ages to the 20th century. For the first time visitors can now travel through the centuries, savouring moments of intense beauty and thus gaining a new awareness of the time. The history of the Netherlands is presented in an international context, along a chronological path set up on four floors of the museum in 80 rooms.
The Rijksmuseum houses the richest collection of paintings from the so-called "Golden Century", the 17th century that saw the commercial and colonial expansion of the Netherlands. The museum building is elegant and majestic and drags you into the atmosphere of Flemish art before you even cross the threshold.
The most famous work is "The Night's Watch" by Rembrandt, a painting, which many critics have assumed to be the watershed in the life of the Dutch artist marked by a youth of success and, on the contrary, an increasingly problematic maturity. The museum's library is also worth a visit (Rijksmuseum Research Library) the most comprehensive public library on the history of art in the Netherlands.
If Flemish art is not in your interests, you can take refuge at the Stedelijk Museum, Amsterdam's museum of modern and contemporary art. From Picasso to Chagall, continuing until the end of Pop art and industrial design. Temporary exhibitions are set up in the modern part of the museum, while in the old building there is a permanent collection of works by Manet, Mandrian, Appel, Chagall, Picasso Jackson Pollock, Gerrit Rietveld, Ettore Sottsass and Andy Warhol, (I), amongst others.
A collection that spans over a century of history – from 1870 to the present day. The spectacular architecture of the building, located in Museumplein Square, has made the museum a true icon of the modern landscape. Currently its collection, one of the most significant in the world, boasts 90,000 items. The ground floor of the Stedelijk is dedicated to collection-based themed presentations, which analyse works from new and current perspectives. The first floor is reserved for temporary exhibitions in continuous rotation. An opportunity to fill your eyes with colours and your head with ideas and suggestions.
The house where the famous Dutch painter lived between 1639 and 1656 is now a museum. Inside you can see a part of his paintings and 250 etchings and even furnishings and locals of his era, an important insight into the daily life of the largest city of the Dutch seventeenth century. Rembrandt bought this house in 1639 for 13,000 forints, a considerable sum for that period.
Despite his acquired fame, in fact, the pressure of the mortgage instalments led the artist to no longer be able to bear the expense, so much so that his subsequent bankruptcy, in 1656, forced him to move to a smaller house where he lived until his death (1669). In 1906 the city of Amsterdam bought the now dilapidated building and shortly afterwards sold it to Rembrandthuis Stichting, the Rembrandt Foundation. Thanks to the documents transcribed during the post-bankruptcy declaration inventory, it was possible to carry out a careful reconstruction Dutch painter’s life path.
The museum is divided into two parts: the seventeenth-century house, where you can visit the rooms and the new wing of the museum, and in which visitors will find the permanent exhibition of almost all Rembrandt's etchings and the rooms that welcome the temporary exhibitions.
Van Gogh Museum
A key stage is the beautiful Van Gogh Museum. Here is the widest collection of Van Gogh paintings of the world. In fact, it is more than just a museum: it is a journey into the life of the painter, through all his emotional stages, which led him over time to change his vision of the world and his way of portraying it. The collection consists of 500 drawings, 200 paintings and over 700 letters.
The museum path develops along two buildings and accompanies visitors through van Gogh's various artistic stages, from the gloomy canvases typical of Dutch art to the brightly coloured landscapes of the Impressionist style. The permanent collection of the Van Gogh Museum is organised chronologically into five periods and is exhibited on three levels; In addition to paintings and drawings there are personal items such as brushes, temperas, desks and letters written to his friend Paul Gauguin and his brother Theo. The exhibition is enriched by works by other painters who were friends with Van Gogh, and we find paintings of Manet, Monet, Gauguin, Rodin, Bernard, Breton and Signac.
Anne Frank's House
The history of Amsterdam intertwined with the history of Europe and the tragic events of the World War II. Some buildings and places in the city are testament to that period of horror. One of them is Anne Frank's house, the one where the little girl wrote her famous diary. It is a museum where you can relive the atmosphere of World War II, in the days of occupied Holland.
Everything has remained as it was then, thanks to careful restorations that preserved the testimonies of the clandestine life to which members of the Frank family were forced. Anne Frank's House is recognised by the queue that every day forms at the entrance and that winds along the canal that it overlooks. It's a place full of history and emotion. Passing through the revolving library leading to the Frank family's hiding place, we take a leap back in time live for a moment in her diary.
Visitors to the Museum find themselves before all the secrets of those rooms: photographs, postcards and even Anne Frank's favourite images, those of the British royal family with pictures of Princesses Elizabeth and Margaret placed in front of a desk.
Bloemenmarkt and other Amsterdam markets
A rainbow of colours and a cloud of perfumes: This is what you will find at Bloemenmarkt, Amsterdam's flower market. The stalls are attached to each other and the passages between them are narrow because they are filled with flowers in every corner. The whole market is floating: every stall is actually a barge floating on the water. It is located on the Singel Canal, between Koningsplein and Muntplein.
Daily fresh flowers are brought from the surrounding cultivated areas. Most tourists buy tulip bulbs to take home or typical Dutch souvenirs in one of the many small shops in the area. Amsterdam is a city famous for its markets, the best known is Albert Cuyp, in the De Pijp district. It's the biggest outdoor market in Europe with more than 260 stalls. You can find everything from tropical fruit to fish, books, electronics, and clothing. Another rather popular market is Waterlooplein.
The best flea market is located behind the Stopera in Amsterdam. Here you will find old records, old photos, vintage clothes, second-hand sunglasses and lots of fun curiosities.
Dam Square and the Royal Palace
Giant, crossed by pedestrians, trams, tourists and bicycles. Dam Square is the heart of the city, animated by fairs, rides, markets and street artists who flock to this huge cobblestone square at any time of year. It has always been the scene of greatest protests and demonstrations, such as student demonstrations, but it was also the heart of hippy culture in the 1960s and still today is a favourite destination for street artists. Dam Square overlooks the Royal Palace (Koninklijk Paleis), the Nieuwe Kerk (literally "New Church", to distinguish it from the Oude Kerk, the "Old Church"), the Nationaal Monument (a 22-metre obelisk to remember the fallen of World War II).
Among the main attractions of the square is the Royal Palace. Il Koninklijk Paleis is a majestic building. When not used by the Dutch royal family or it is not hosting state visits and ceremonies, it can be visited as well as admired from the outside. Discover the rooms, paintings and a collection of empire-style furniture that is amongst the most important in Europe. Originally the majestic building had been built to house the Town hall: its construction began in 1648, the year of independence of the Netherlands, in the period of greatest economic splendour. The building was all too luxurious and majestic to be used as a town hall; In fact, it "only" remained such for 150 years.
In 1808, Luigi Bonaparte, appointed King of the Netherlands by his brother Napoleon, decided to restructure it and make it the Royal Palace. When the Empire crumbled a few years later, and King Louis Bonaparte fled Amsterdam, he left antique furniture of great value and real artistic masterpieces inside the palace, some of which can still be observed today.
The most important meeting place of Amsterdam's reformed Dutch community is Westerkerk, the "Western Church". The building, built in the Baroque style between 1620 and 1631 on the design of Hendrick de Keyser, is located within the Jordaan district, on the banks of the Prinsengracht canal, in the western canal circle. For many this is the area that best represents the restrained, but polite style of the Dutch capital. Here the great painter Rembrandt is buried, although no one knows exactly where.
Some believe he is buried in an unspecified place along the northern perimeter of the church. Together with the artist, his partner Hendrickie Stoffels and perhaps his little son Titus van Rijn. Westertkerk is often mentioned in Anne Frank's diary, as she drew great consolation from the peal of the church bells when exiled. Reaching the top of the tower allows you to admire one of Amsterdam's most beautiful views, even if the company is not available to everyone.
In addition to its great spiritual value, Westerkerk holds an enviable record: it is the highest church bell tower in the city: (85 metres) and is the largest Protestant church in the Netherlands. Outside the church is a memorial statue dedicated to Anne Frank and, not far from it, theHomonument, a memorial formed by three triangles in pink granite to remember the gays and lesbians persecuted during Nazism.
Red light district
Around Amsterdam: Delft
Around Amsterdam: Haarlem
Around Amsterdam: The Hague
The Hague is the only major city with a beach directly on the North Sea coast. The city boasts several monuments, luxurious hotels and is a political headquarters. The Historic Binnenhof houses the headquarters of the Dutch government, while Noordeinde Palace is the king's work place. Here you can visit beautiful art museums and spend a day of shopping in style. Internationally, it is known as the "judicial capital of the world", as several international tribunals are based here. These include the International Court of Justice, the International Criminal Court for the former Yugoslavia
And the International Criminal Court. The Hague is also home to more than 150 international organisations, as well as many EU institutions, multinational companies and embassies. The city's inhabitants consider Zeeheldenkwartier to be the most beautiful neighbourhood. This unique area of the city sees an alternation of palaces of international institutions and characteristic 19th century mansions, with their beautiful courtyards.
Around Amsterdam: Keukenhof's Garden
Around Amsterdam: Zaanse Schans
Around Amsterdam: Alkmaar
Alkmaar is a small town, about 40 km from Amsterdam, with a centuries-old tradition of cheese. The Alkmaar cheese market is one of the four traditional ones that still exist: here the speciality is local products, which deviate from the big Dutch brands. As far back as 1365, since there was only one set of scales, the cheese was sold in Waagplein Square.
The "load" arrived early in the morning and inspectors and traders checked that the forms were stacked properly. About 30,000 kilos of cheese, equivalent to 2,200 forms, are lined up in wait for buyers. In a cheese market, of course, there can be "kaasdragers", i.e. cheese-carriers. But "zetters" (operators), "ingooiers” (pullers) and "waagmeesters" (weighers) also play essential roles for the market. They belong to an association rich in traditions. Overall, the Alkmaar cheese market is a fascinating spectacle, which contains several anecdotes and interesting traditions.
Visit Amsterdam with Costa Cruises
Amsterdam is a special city: born in the 17th century and famous all over the world. Here you can admire the historic buildings visit wonderful museums or enjoy the neighbourhoods in a climate that knows how to expand and be at the same time transgressive, tolerant or innovative. Many occasions for colouring your holidays, exploring the canals on a boat tour, walking in parks or between lanes or shopping in theancient old town. Amsterdam is a unique city. And it deserves to be discovered.