A truly sensational destination, Amsterdam does not disappoint. With a large collection of fantastic museums, incredible architecture, delicious dining, and so much more within its unique quarters, Amsterdam is a destination unlike any other. It is divided up into sever neighborhoods, or quarters, each with its very own distinct characteristics, atmosphere, attractions and highlights. Starting with the widely known Red Light District, one will find far more than the basics this district is known for. Red lights certainly do burn in abundance here, however, this district is a wonderful destination for culture lovers.
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Waterloo Square is an ideal place for the trendy and hip, with its modern City Hall, called Stopera, and the Muziek Theater. The daily market on Waterloo Square attracts crowds of people looking for great bargains. Zeedijk, a busy narrow street offers plenty of sights to see. Gorgeous houses and charming shops alternate. Pubs and restaurants abound here. For the art lovers and appreciators, alike, Rembrandt’s house- now a museum since 1908, provides a fantastic opportunity to view etchings by the artist and a number of drawings, landscapes and portraits and self portraits. The Jewish Historical Museum, found on Jonas Daniel Meijer Square and comprised of four former synagogues is a spectacular place to absorb some fascinating Jewish history and culture. Last, but not least, De Oude Kerk, the oldest church in Amsterdam has an eventful and tumultuous history, making it an impressive destination to visit.
Dam Square, at the very center of Amsterdam is a lovely and peaceful square, a great contrast from days of old. In this section, one finds the beautiful Central Station building that was constructed on an artificial island in the Dutch Renaissance style and completed in 1189. One must be sure to view the Royal Palace, located right in the heart of Amsterdam, as well as the Beurs van Berlage building, designed in 1903. Another site worth viewing is the Amsterdam Historical Museum, showcasing an extensive collection of paintings, books, maps, shields, and facades. The last site to be listed in the Dam Square section is the Niewe Kerk, a building of over 600 years of age located adjacent to the Royal Palace.
One of Amsterdam’s most attractive districts is the Jordaan area, a pleasant, working class area established in the 17th century. This section has become legendary due to a host of sentimental songs written about the area that have helped to establish the section’s image. Westerkerk and the Wester Tower are two monuments that have come to be symbols of the quarter, as well as the city of Amsterdam. As many local Amsterdam residents live on the water, houseboats are common. To find out more about this lifestyle, one may opt to visit the House Boat Museum. Noorderkerk is one more of Jordaan’s exceptional monuments, built in the 17th century it was the second Protestant church in Holland.
The next quarter of Amsterdam is that of the section between the canals. Here, one may visit Leidseplein Square, a hot spot boasting outdoor cafes, cinemas, theaters, and even a skating rink. Even more museums abound in the Canal District that are definitely worth a visit. Along the three grand canals are elegant mansions standing along Herengracht, Prisengracht, and Keizergracht. Spectacular fine arts and antiques can be found in the Canal district as well, found across the bridge from the Rijksmuseum.
De Pijp is a section that acts as a home to a great range of people and has become quite a melting pot. The Albert Cuyp market is here, the largest and busiest outdoor market in Europe, where the 270 stalls attract around 20,000 visitors per day, and that number can often double on the weekends. The De Pijp section is also where the world famous company, Heineken, once brewed its beer. Now a museum is in the place of a former brewery of the company.
Venturing into the museum quarter, one finds a center of arts and culture. Amsterdam’s main museums and galleries are all located within close proximity of one another here. Some exquisite shopping can be found here. In addition, Vondel Park, Amsterdam’s best known park, is a superb location of relaxation, jogging, bike riding and roller skating.
East of Amsterdam’s center is the Plantage area. This great area holds an extensive park, as well as Hortus Botanicus (a green oasis) and Artis Zoo. Despite a short period of deterioration in the 19th century, the area is clean, stylish, and classy. Must see sites include Wertheim Park, the Netherlands Maritime Museum Amsterdam, and Hollandsche Shouwburg.
Off Amsterdam’s eastern dock area, one finds KNSM Island. A section that until just over twenty years ago was used as a harbor, KNSM Island has some striking modern architecture and is home to a sensational sailing event that has attracted even more visitors each year.