Historic City Walk in Amsterdam
Of course Amsterdam is a great destination for a city trip. Just to get away for the weekend. It’s not too big, and it has history, culture and of course the partyvibe is always present in Amsterdam. If you ask me, a weekend is absolutely not enough for visiting Amsterdam, because like all capitals, Amsterdam has so many neighbourhoods and different things to offer. But if you are indeed in Amsterdam for the weekend, the old city centre is the most important part of town to discover. So, here is the best walk through the old centre for you!
Originally, Amsterdam was a fisherman’s village, a swampy place where some men decided to fish for the typically Dutch ‘Herring’. The old city centre, right across the Central Station, is the only neighborhood where you can still experience this medieval feeling. The best place to start your walk is thus from Central Station. Instead of following the main stream of tourists to the Damrak, take a left behind the beautiful St Nicolas Church. Now you´re walking on the Zeedijk, the old dike that withheld Amsterdam from flooding. Behind Central Station was the open sea. Nowadays the Zeedijk is the second biggest Chinatown of Europe. You will also find the oldest Buddhist temple of Europe here.
At the end of the Zeedijk you’ll arrive at the Nieuwmarkt, a big square with the old city gate: de Waag. Back in the days this was a weighing house for all the merchandise shipped into the city. Nowadays a pretty nice place to have a coffee on the terrace. Please notice the beautiful old ‘dancing’ houses, with their unique architecture. The houses are dancing, because they were built on wooden piles. Those piles started rotting and this is why the houses are leaning, instead of standing straight.
From here you should proceed to the Kloveniersburgwal, with bombastic houses as well as houses that aren’t wider than one meter! At Kloveniersburgwal 48, you’ll find the headquarters of the old VOC; the East Indian Trading Company. This company basically invented the stock market and made Amsterdam the most important city of the 17th century!
If you like, have a glimpse inside the Southern Church. This is one of the four protestant churches built in the 17th century (by a catholic designer by the way!). The first wife of painter Rembrandt van Rijn was buried here, right next to their old house in the Jewish quarter, which you can still visit today.
A perfect place to have lunch after all this walking is my favorite restaurant of the old centre: Kapitein Zeppos. Hidden in a tiny little alley called “Gebed Zonder End” (in English “Prayer without end) you will find the most incredible restaurant with lovely food and great hospitality. It’s like you left the centre for just a moment and are in a green zone, where especially the Pinot Grigio is a treat.
After lunch you could proceed to the Spui Square, where you find the entrance of the ‘Begijnhof’. The Begijnhof is a rustic inner court where the miracle of Amsterdam happened, which you can still admire in the secret catholic chapel. Also one of the last medieval wooden houses survived here. Where all wooden houses of Amsterdam were destroyed in the big fires of the 16th century, in the Begijnhof you can find one!
If you are fast, you can also check out the art of the squatters movement on the Spuistraat. Their blue fortress is a beautiful combination of old architecture and modern art. Be fast though, because there are plans to demolish the building!The squatters fortress is right behind the Royal Palace and Dam Square. Next to the Royal Palace you will find the New Church, where the expositions are without exception amazing. The whole city began with Dam Square, so the end of your historic walk is at the beginning of Amsterdam. How poetic is that…