Amsterdam is an ideal destination
for those who love to walk. Built on a flatland created from the draining of marshes and
sea, the city seems quite compact amidst its network of canals surrounding the Centraal
Station (train station). It is very easy to go from one attraction to another in random
order since most tourist sites are located in the Centrum (downtown)
The train is the preferred means of
transportation of travellers in Amsterdam. The nerve centre of the railway network in
the city, and perhaps even in the entire country, is the magnificent Centraal Station,
which was built in 1889 and stands in the lively Stationsplein. The station's northern
exit will lead you directly to the seaside and offers a view of the port of Amsterdam,
made famous by Jacques Brel.
Visitors who wish to get acquainted
with the city will enjoy climbing up to the top of Havengebouw, a port building located
west of the station, from which there is a beautiful panorama of Amsterdam. You will
surely notice that this city is completely devoid of skyscrapers, due to building
constraints that resulted from the land's fragility. Perpendicular to the station begins
Prins Hendrikkade, one of the liveliest streets in the city, which runs along what was
once the tip of the port. The street leads to a canal-crossed neighbourhood where some
of the city's rich merchants and famous captains once lived. On Prins Hendrikkade, the
Nederlands Scheepvaart Museum (the Maritime Museum) proudly stands in a 17th-century
building that once housed the arsenal of the largest merchant flotilla of the western
Immersed until the 13th century, when the
famous dike that diverted the Amstel was built, Dam Square has been the social centre of
the city ever since its creation. Reserved to pedestrians, Kalverstraat is one of
Amsterdam's main commercial streets. Running parallel to the Rokin, it joins Dam Square
and the Muntplein. The street and its surroundings feature several tourist attractions.
Kalverstraat ends in the Muntplein, a type of wide bridge, on the spot where the Amstel
flows into the Singel. A few minutes' walk from the Muntplein, the Singel's floating
flower market offers an explosion of colours and fragrances. Built on barges that are
secured in the canal, it is a lively, colourful display.
The districts east of the Damrak, the Dam and the Rokin include some
of the oldest and most picturesque areas in Amsterdam. Narrow, shaded canals; old, and
sometimes decrepit houses; nightclubs with flashy signs; sex shops; bistros and cafés
where the air is filled with the odour of marijuana until the wee hours of the morning?
all are part of the landscape here. Note that the area can be a risky place for
travellers who visit it alone at night.
heart of this district of occasionally illicit activities, the Oude Kerk (old church) is
a relic of a less libertarian era. The largest and oldest church in Amsterdam, it
started out as a small chapel built in 1306 and was gradually expanded, restored and
modified. Renovated at high cost from 1959 to 1979, it has proudly preserved its
original splendour. Paradoxically, this religious site is found among the establishments
of the famous Red Light District, where prostitution reigns.
West of the Centraal
Station, Jordaan, a former working-class area that was developed around 1600, is now a
charming and trendy neighbourhood. The Museumplein district, for its part, features the
city's three most prestigious art museums: the Rijksmuseum, the Vincent Van Gogh Museum
and the Stedelijk Museum. Their collections are so rich and complete that it would be
absolutely impossible to visit all three in one day.
On the bank of the Prinsengracht, north of the Westerkerk, the famous
Anne Frank spent the last years of her life in what is now known as the Anne Frank Huis
(Anne Frank House). It is in this modest house that the Frank family and a few friends,
German-Jewish refugees, hid from the Nazis from 1942 to 1944. Young Anne's Diary,
written during those two years of seclusion, made her a household name throughout the
world. A small and disarmingly simple museum, Anne Frank's house evokes deep,
overwhelming emotions in its many visitors.
The Damrak, a street lined with
shops, cafés and restaurants, leads to Dam Square. The historic centre of town, Dam
Square is constantly packed with people and is a very lively place on beautiful summer
The district that artists, students and
bohemians call home, Jordaan, is a fantastic spot for people who love to drink, dance
and have a good time. In the relaxed atmosphere of its narrow streets are some of the
friendliest cafés, pubs and secondhand shops in the city.
South of Jordaan, Leidseplein offers a wide array of cafés,
restaurants and outdoor entertainment. Rembrandtplein is also a great place for evening
entertainment in Amsterdam.
Where on earth
The largest and most bustling urban centre in the
Netherlands, Amsterdam was developed amidst a network of canals that delimit some 100
islets. This city of one million inhabitants is truly deserving of its nickname "Venice
of the North."