Amsterdam, Netherlands: Amalgamation of the Past and Present - Day 1

Located along the Amstel River, the largest Dutch city, Amsterdam is one of the most important European port and cultural hub since ancient times when the city became diamond and financial center. Aside from its magnificent canals, Amsterdam is proud of its unique blend of conservatism and freedom, which attracts almost five million tourists every year. Being the center of commerce during the Dutch Golden Age and their colonial past, Amsterdam certainly has a rich history to present for visitors around the world could relate and associate from where they come from.

The beautiful Dutch city is a dream city for me to visit so when I got the opportunity to fulfill this, I did not hesitate, especially during the Yuletide season. I get to celebrate Christmas while learning how the Dutch city emerged as a global city from its rich historic past to where it is now.

Click here for the second day of my adventure in Amsterdam.

1.    Vondelpark

This 45-hectare land piece is Amsterdam’s largest park and is within the vicinity of other tourist attractions, which somehow paved the surge of millions of tourists to this park built by architects inspired by Paris and Rome.

2.    Concertgebrow

After the lowest point of the Dutch history when France occupied Netherlands, the second Dutch Golden Age ushered during the 19th century, which is characterized by the establishment of several museums and art buildings, including the Concertgebrow.

3.    Museumplein Christmas Village

The Christmas Village somehow showcases the influence of traditions outside what the Dutch could claim entirely as their own. This is the same in the architecture of buildings that reflects French Empire, which occupied Holland for several decades after the Napoleonic Wars.

4.    Van Gogh Museum

Located within the Museum Square, this art museum dedicated for the works of Vincent van Gogh and his contemporaries.

5.    Rijksmuseum

Patterned after Paris’ The Louvre, Rijksmuseum has been established first by the Batavian Republic in the Dutch administrative city of The Hague before moving it to Amsterdam due to orders from French conqueror Louis Napoleon Bonaparte, who headed the puppet kingdom of Holland under the French Empire.

6.    Lijnbaansgracht

Notably, Amsterdam boasts for its canal networks, which somehow reflects the origin of the city’s name that literally means the dam or bridge created to protect from recurring floods the people along the Amstel River. There are many canals that still exist today and some were covered such as Lijnbaansgracht, which is on the northern side of the Rijksmuseum.

7.    Spielgelgracht

Designated as one of the UNESCO World Heritage sites, Spielgelgracht is near the Prince Canal or Prinsengracht.

8.    Kerkstraat

It is a street in the center of Amsterdam. The street runs from the canal eastwards across the river Amstel. In the sixties, Kerkstraat or Church Street is where gay clubs and bars are most found.

9.    Singel

This is the innermost circle of Amsterdam, which dates back from the Middle Ages. This is also the site of the city’s flower market, where market stalls are actually boats floating in the canal.

10. De Krijtberg

This Neo-Gothic Catholic Church is dedicated to the Jesuit saint Francis Xavier. Due to space limitations, the church architects have decided to construct a tall and monumental fa├žade.

11. Spui

Amsterdam’ courtyard for booklovers is the Spui, a square where many tram lines meet.

12. Magna Plaza

A Neo-Renaissance style monumental shopping building was a former post office of Amsterdam. 

13. De Nieuwe Kerk 

In the 13th century, Amsterdam has embraced the Protestant faith, also during the time Amsterdam gained the city rights. This new religious adherence became a symbol of rebellion against the Spanish empire, which revers the Catholic faith of the Holy Roman Empire. During these time, churches have been used for Calvinism including the Old Church in De Wallen. As the city population grew, there was a need to construct a new church on Dam Square today.

14. Koninklijk Paleis Amsterdam & Dam

The Royal Palace is one of the three palaces in Netherlands for the use of the monarch of the Kingdom of Netherlands. This was the old city hall before the puppet French kingdom of King Louis Napoleon used as an official palace.

15. Herengrancht

One of the three main canals circling the city center is Herengracht, along with Prinsengracht and Keizersgracht.

16. Homomonument & Keizersgracht

The widest of the inner canals of Amsterdam, Keizergracht is named after the Emperor Maximillian of Austria. During the winter, a sprintrace is conducted as one of the activities in this historic canal, which was initially planned to be a simple boulevard.

17. Westerkerk

Along the banks of Prinsengracht is the Westerkerk, which differs from the Old Church in the Red Light District and the New Church in Dam Square because it was intentionally built for the Dutch Protestant Church, while the two other churches were just converted from Catholic churches to Protestant houses of worship.

18. Anne Frank Huis

During the World War 2, German forces invaded Netherlands. At this time, Jews and Dutch protecting them were punished by torture and death in German concentration camps. One of the most influential and inspirational Dutch Jew is Anne Frank.

19. Leilegracht

The canal is located within the local city centre. This canal was necessary because the waters of the Prinsengracht (along with the rest of the Jordan River canals) remained at lower level, while the level of the water in the Leliegracht, Keizersgracht and Herengracht was on the upper level of the city.

20. Prinsengracht

It is the third and outermost of the three main canals of Amsterdam. This canal marked the booming population and expanding area of the city. The entrance to the Prinsengracht is the ‘Eenhoornsluis’ (Unicorn Lock), one of the 16 waterlocks which were built around the city in the 17th century, to control the waterlevel in the canals and to protect the city against the sea. 

21. Nationaal Monument

This monument is a national remembrance of the casualties after the World War 2. The pillar has an inscription which states, "Here, where the heart of the fatherland is, may this monument, which citizens carry in their heart, gaze at God's stars.

22. Beursplein & Beurs van Berlage

The Amsterdam Stock Exchange is considered the oldest in the world. Nearly the Amsterdam Stock Exchange is Beurs van Berlage, a building used for concerts, conferences and exhibitions.

23. De Oude Kirke

This is Amsterdam’s oldest parish, which became a Calvinist church in the 15th century from a consecrated Catholic church. Ironically, the church is located on the heart of De Wallen or Amsterdam’s Legal Prostitution Area.

24. Red Light District

Also known as the De Wallen or The Quays, the Red Light District is the oldest city district of Amsterdam, which is now home of about 300 one-room cabins being rented by prostitutes enticing possible customers for sexual services. These cabins are lighted in red at night, thereby giving the name of Red Light District, which somehow manifests the value of freedom among the Dutch and as a lucrative source of tax for the Dutch government.

25. Basiliek van de H. Nicolaas

This is the Amsterdam’s major Catholic church and is located on the Old city district near the Amsterdam Central Station. In the 125th year of its existence, St Nicholas' Church elevated to "basilica minor" or basilica.

26. VVV I amsterdam Visitor Centre Stationplein

In front of the Central Station in an old style wooden house is the Amsterdam Visitor Center. Interestingly the Visitor Center is a tourist attraction itself.

27. Amsterdam Centraal

It would be natural to think that in the ancient times, this same area has been the focal point of merchants coming from America’s Dutch West India Company and Asia’s Dutch East India Company. Now, the Amsterdam Central Station connects several suburban areas of Amsterdam and serves as a converging point of both locals and tourists.

28. De Rujijterkade

The Ruijterkade is located along the north side of Central Station. The quay was built in 1880 on the new Station Island, as part of a restructuring project of the traffic flows, in conjunction with the construction of the North Sea and the expansion of rail traffic.

29. Westertoegang 

The street connects the Prins Hendrikkade and the Ruijterkade. The Wester Access has no zip code because no one can live. Across the street is the West Underpass, a complex of railway bridges to Central Station. In the past, the part of the prostitution area around Central Station. Because of the inconvenience the ladies were expelled.

30. Clifford Chance

A building on the western side of the Central Station is the home of experienced lawyers serving the Dutch population.

31. Schreierstoren

It is originally part of the medieval city wall of Amsterdam, the Netherlands, was built in the 15th century. The myth that it was the place where sailor's wives were weeping when their men set sail is a romantic falsification

The first day in the Dutch capital was a rewarding and memorable experience. It would have been better if I got the chance to spend more time on each tourist attraction and learn more in details. However, certainly this will not be the last time I will be visiting the amazing city of Amsterdam.


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