The Amsterdam Historical Museum is a much underrated museum which has interesting displays detailing the city's history. The adjoining Schuttersgallerij (Civic Guards Gallery) is one of the surprises in the Amsterdams Historisch Museum. In a passage-way between the Kalverstraat and the Begijnhof it is possible to admire fifteen enormous paintings - portraits of the Amsterdam Civic Guards from the 17th Century. This is probably the only place in the world where paintings are simply hanging on display in the street, They are protected by a glass roof. The most famous painting of the Civic Guard is of course the "Nightwatch" by Rembrandt which can be admired in the Rijksmuseum. The Schuttersgallerij from the Amsterdams Historisch Museum can be reached via the beautiful gateway on the Kalverstraat. The Amsterdam Historical Museum shows how this city grew from a small medieval town into a modern city. Housed in a former orphanage that dates back to 1524, the museum is filled with paintings, prints and archaeological finds. One of the most interesting exhibits is an 18th-century coach without wheels. According to council regulations - and to reduce the noise of wheels on the cobbled streets - wealthy Amsterdammers had to travel by sleigh, even in summer. The entrance fee to the museum includes free entry to the Civic Guards Gallery, a glass-roofed 'street' between Kalverstraat and the Begijnhof, which is lined with 15 massive portraits of the Amsterdam Civic Guards, dating from the 17th century. However, the Rijksmuseum has the most famous painting of the Civic Guard - Rembrandt's Nightwatch . Kalverstraat 92 or Nieuwezijds Voorburgwal 359 Transport: Trams 1, 2, 4, 5, 9, 14, 16, 24 or 25. Opening hours: Mon-Fri 1000-1700, Sat and Sun 1100-1700.
Stedelijk Museum This 17th-century canal house is where Anne Frank wrote her famous diary while in hiding during Amsterdam's Nazi occupation. The Anne Frankhuis contains the diary and hosts regular exhibitions. The queues can be horrendous at the small but very popular Anne Frank House, which annually attracts roughly half a million people. It is the historic home where Anne Frank, her family and four other Jewish people hid from the occupying Germans during World War II, after fleeing their native Germany. Finally caught by the Nazis, after two years in hiding, they were taken off to concentration camps, where Anne died. However, her father survived and published her diary, which has been translated into 50 languages. Prinsengracht 263, Westerkerk Transport: Trams 13, 14 or 17. Opening hours: Daily 0900–1900 (Sep–Mar); daily 0900–2100 (Apr–Aug).
Anne Frankhuis This 17th-century canal house is where Anne Frank wrote her famous diary while in hiding during Amsterdam's Nazi occupation. The Anne Frankhuis contains the diary and hosts regular exhibitions. The queues can be horrendous at the small but very popular Anne Frank House, which annually attracts roughly half a million people. It is the historic home where Anne Frank, her family and four other Jewish people hid from the occupying Germans during World War II, after fleeing their native Germany. Finally caught by the Nazis, after two years in hiding, they were taken off to concentration camps, where Anne died. However, her father survived and published her diary, which has been translated into 50 languages. Prinsengracht 263, Westerkerk Transport: Trams 13, 14 or 17. Opening hours: Daily 0900–1900 (Sep–Mar); daily 0900–2100 (Apr–Aug).
Nieuwe Kerk Adjacent to the Royal Palace is Nieuwe Kerk, a church of the highest order. Akin to the Gothic churches of France, it was built circa 1400 due to the shortage of churches in the city and over the years, many changes have been made. The New Church remarkably managed to escape major damage in 1421 and 1452, the two great fires of Amsterdam, although two centuries later it was reduced to ashes when plumbers accidentally started a fire. The church however has been faithfully restored to its former glory, exhibiting the original early Renaissance style features throughout even though it remains tower-less. Since 1815, Dutch monarchs and other members of the Royal Family have been officially inaugurated here, including the late Queen Beatrix, Queen Wilhelmina and Queen Juliana. On 2 February 2002, the Prince of Orange and Princess Máxima married in the beautiful church. In between coronations and weddings, the New Church houses art galleries and temporary exhibitions.
BegijnhofThis peaceful medieval haven in the centre of a cosmopolitan city can be reasonably difficult to find. Well kept lawns with tall trees surrounded by cottages which are hundreds of years old, an abundance of flowers and a small medieval church, situated in the middle make up this beautiful courtyard. The Begijnhof was built in the 14th Century as a place where devote women, who did not want to enter a convent, were able to live.The oldest house in Amsterdam can also be found here - it has a wooden frontage dating from about 1475. A narrow, vaulted passageway leads to this charming garden surrounded by old houses. The houses in the courtyard were once occupied by devout celibate Béguine nuns and are still home to single women today. In the centre of the lawns is a medieval church and at No.34 stands the oldest house in Amsterdam. The entrance is on the Spui and is indicated by a carved sign. Entry is free.
Dam SquareThe original site where the first dam was built across the Amstel River in 1270. Dam Square lies at the heart of Amsterdam and contains a number of important attractions including the Koninklijk Paleis (Royal Palace) and Nieuwe Kerk. The Dam is the very centre and heart of Amsterdam, although there are arguably prettier sights in the city. As an historical site however, it is fascinating and worth taking the time to appreciate. The Dam has seen many historical dramas unfold over the years, and was for example, the reception area for Napoleon and his troops during the 1808 take-over of the city. The impressive history of the square is well documented in the Amsterdam Historical Museum. The Royal Palace (Koninklijk Paleis) which dominates the square, was originally used as the town hall and its classical facade and fine sculptures were intended to glorify the city of Amsterdam and its government. In contrast to its turbulent history, the square is now a peaceful place and is home to hundreds of pigeons and tourists resting their tired feet.
Amsterdam's Canals Many visitors to Amsterdam are surprised by the sheer amount of water in the city. The enormous number of canals have led Amsterdam to become known as “The Venice of the North”. And thus, a trip to Amsterdam is not complete without a boat-ride. A canal-tour can be both fascinating and relaxing by day and enchanting and romantic at night when many of the houses and bridges are illuminated.The four main city center canals are Prinsengracht, Herengracht, Keizersgracht and Singel. There are also numerous smaller canals, of which the Brouwersgracht, the Bloemgracht and the Leliegracht are especially pleasant .
Albert Cuyp market The Albert Cuyp market is the best-known and busiest outdoor market in Europe, that attracts thousends of visitors every day, and is really crowded on Saturdays. The goods on sale at over 300 stalls range from fruit, vegetables, cheese, fish, poultry, to clothes, with prices among the cheapest in Amsterdam. The market is located in the Pijp district, surrounded with many pleasant cafes and small shops.
Rijks museum With over seven million works of art, the Rijksmuseum ranks among Europe's most prestigious museums. This museum houses many of the more famous works by Rembrandt and Vermeer. The largest and most popular museum in the Netherlands was opened in 1885 and has grown steadily ever since. Today, it includes paintings dating from the 15th century up until 1850, as well as some quite stunning pieces of furniture.Visitors with a limited amount of time should head straight for the Dutch Masters on the first floor, where the star painting, Rembrandt’s Nightwatch, hangs alongside several Vermeers and Van Hals. A pamphlet describes all of the museum’s highlights and there are audio tours available. Although part of the Rijksmuseum and included in the price of the museum ticket, the South Wing has its own entrance, at Hobbemastraat 19. Exhibits include 18th- and 19th-century paintings, Oriental objets d’art and a textile and costume section. Each year, more than a million people visit the Rijksmuseum. The museum employs around 400 people, including 45 curators who are specialised in all areas.
Magere Bridge The so-called Magere Brug (Skinny Bridge) is probably the most famous bridge in Amsterdam. This picturesque white-painted drawbridge has spanned the River Amstel since 1672.According to some Amsterdammers the bridge is named after two ladies called Mager: two wealthy sisters who lived on opposite sides of the Amstel. They supposedly had this bridge built in order to make it easier to visit each other. The real reason for the name, however, is much more simple - the bridge used to be so narrow that two people could barely cross at the same time. As time passed the bridge was replaced by a wider example and the name 'Skinny' was not quite so appropriate as it was. The Magere Brug is still one of the most beautiful bridges in Amsterdam. The bridge is illuminated every evening with thousands of lights and is a popular location for both lovers and photographers. Of Amsterdam's 1280 bridges, the Magere Brug, or “ Skinny Bridge” is the most famous. It is a traditional double-leaf, Dutch draw-bridge connecting the banks of the river Amstel. Approximately every twenty minutes, the bridge opens to let boats through. The original bridge was built in 1670, but as the traffic on Amstel increased, a wider bridge was built to replace the narrow one.