Nieuwmarkt and Chinatown
Nieuwmarkt Square is a border point with the De Wallen district. Its decoration is the majestic weight building (Waag), which today houses a restaurant. The building before the reconstruction was part of the city’s fortifications, it was the gate of St. Antoni.
From here, we can go a short walk to Kloveniersburgwal 29, where we will see one of the most beautiful buildings in Amsterdam – Trippenhuis.
Part of the area where Nieuwmarkt is located is part of the so-called Chinese Quarter. Just walk a bit along Zeedijk Street to see Asian decor and restaurants. An interesting point is the Buddhist temple Fo Guang Shan Holland built in the style of Chinese architecture.
The word “Chinese” in the name is misleading because it is an area where we can find the influence of cultures throughout Asia, not just one country.
An interesting structure referring to Asian culture is the palace-restaurant built on the lake IJ, built in the style of a pagoda (address: Oosterdokskade 8). If we are nearby it is worth looking at this original structure.
An interesting area of the historic center is the long Spui Square and its immediate surroundings. Until the canal was dug, there was water in the place of Spui Square. It was only after the canal was built that the area was buried and a square popular today was created.
Spui Square is excluded from pedestrian traffic and is a great place for a short break. From the square, we will enter one of the hidden treasures of Amsterdam – beginja. Beguinages were complexes consisting of residential buildings as well as a church and often a hospital. Beginners inhabited them. It can be briefly said that they were secular monasteries. Beguinages can be found throughout Belgium, France and the Netherlands.
It is not known since the beginner in Amsterdam was inhabited. Probably at least from the mid-fourteenth century. It is worth looking into a quiet courtyard, so different from the rest of the city. Being on the spot we can look into the Catholic church located in a row of buildings. The temple is open every day (on Monday from 13:00, on other days from 9:00). In the middle of the courtyard there is also a Protestant church.
In the begina area it is worth paying attention to the house with a black wooden facade – Houten Huis. This is the oldest existing residential house in Amsterdam. It was built around 1420.
Let’s remember that Beguinage is still inhabited. Let’s keep quiet and respect the privacy of the residents.
Every Friday from 10:00 to 18:00 there is a book market on Spui Square. Over 20 sellers are exhibited here each week. In addition to old books (also in English), we will buy historical maps and posters here. [update 2017]
At the rear of the Beguinage is one of the most interesting museums in the city, Amsterdam Museum (address: Kalverstraat 92). The facility is located in the old orphanage building. Inside, we will learn the history of the city and see many exhibits from the turn of the century.
Other attractions in the center and nearby
In the historic center and the immediate area you will find many interesting places worth visiting. In this section we have included some examples worth considering when planning a visit to the capital of the Netherlands.
Tuschinski Cinema (address: Reguliersbreestraat 26-28) – one of the most beautiful cinema buildings in the world. The building was built in 1921 in the Art Nouveau style. Its creator was a Polish Jew, Abraham Tuschinski (Tuszyński). Unfortunately, during the war Tuszyński was deported to the German Auschwitz camp, where he died. Today, cinema screenings are still taking place here. It is worth to look inside and see a beautiful colorful hall. You can walk around the cinema. If we would like to see cinema halls we can go on a movie or a trip around the facility. They take place every day from 9:30 to 11:00. The cost is 10 €. For the price we will get a cup of coffee or tea.
Rembrandtplein – Rembrandt Square. In the center of the square we will see the artist’s original monument referring to the famous work Night Watch. The monument consists of several sculptures that present the image in 3D format.
Bloemenmarkt flower market (address: along Singel Canal) – the largest flower market in the whole of the Netherlands. It was founded in 1862. Unfortunately, some of the stands have been turned into a kind of tourist attraction.
Rembrandt’s house (address: Jodenbreestraat 4) – the house where the famous Rembrandt Harmenszoon van Rijn lived. The artist stayed here in the years 1639 -1658. Today, the building houses a museum.
Waterlooplein – a kind of flea market, we buy everything here – from souvenirs and antiques to clothes and shoes. The most pleasant fragment is located along the canal.
Café de Sluyswacht – Café de Sluyswacht is located in one of the most interesting buildings in Amsterdam. The filigree and independent wooden house from 1695 stands out among the compact buildings of the city. If we look at it well, we will notice that the building tilts slightly. This is due to the lack of support in neighboring buildings. Inside, we can drink coffee or a beer and see the authentic interior.
Southeast of the historic city center was in the past the Jewish Quarter. The Netherlands, unlike many other regions of Europe, had a relatively liberal approach to religion. Many Jews from Spain or Portugal came to Amsterdam in the 16th and 17th centuries. At one point they constituted over 10% of the city’s population. Until the outbreak of World War II, the Jewish Quarter was one of the most vivid in all of Amsterdam.
Unfortunately, the outbreak of war erased the entire history. The Germans occupied the city more liberally than Polish cities, with the exception of Jewish-populated districts. Over 100,000 Jews were transported from the city and the district was rebuilt. After the war, it never regained its splendor.
To visit the remains of the district we should go to Mr. Square Visserplein, which received the name for part of Lodewijk politician Ernst Visser. Visser became famous for open protests against the oppression of the Jewish population at the beginning of the war. If you are coming by metro, you can get off at the Waterlooplein stop.
The biggest monument of the district is the Portuguese Synagogue which is one of the largest synagogues in the world. Construction of the temple began in the mid-seventeenth century and ended in 1675. The synagogue is open to the public.
The second place worth visiting is the Joods Historisch Museum. The museum was created on the premises of 4 buildings belonging to the historic High Synagogue. In the museum we will see many exhibits and learn about the history of Jews living in the Netherlands.
Opposite the museum entrance, on Jonas Square Daniel Meijerplein, stands a statue of De Dokwerker for part of the protests in February 1941. In February 1941, tension and provocations against the Jewish population intensified. They resulted in the decision of the occupying authorities to fence the district with barbed wire and forbid non-Jewish people to move around it. The next step was pogroms and round-ups in the new ghetto.
These activities mobilized the remaining residents to go out into the street and defend their fellow citizens. The protests took place on February 25 and lasted for two days. Even 300,000 people took part in the protests, but they were brutally pacified by the German occupier. It was one of the first protests in defense of the Jewish population in Europe (on such a large scale).