|Amsterdam, the capital of
the Netherlands, is among the world's finest and most
interesting cities. It derives its specific character from numerous canals
and historical monuments. Most of the 7,000 monuments date from the 'Golden
Age' in the 17th century, when trade brought great affluence to the city.
Amsterdam is often referred to as one of the most colourful cities in the
world as these pictures show.
The Royal Palace is located on the Dam in Amsterdam. It was
built 350 years ago as the City Hall of Amsterdam. It is not Queen Beatrix's
place of residence but she occasionally receives important guests there.
In Madame Tussauds Amsterdam you can meet famous Dutch and
foreign personalities. There are 130 life-like wax figures on display.
The Rijksmuseum is sometimes called Holland's treasure
trove. The largest museum for art and history in the Netherlands, is world
famous for its collection. The Rijksmuseum has five departments: Paintings,
Sculpture and Applied Arts, Print Cabinet, Asian Art and Dutch History. The
centrepiece of the collection is the renowned paintings from Holland's
Golden Age. Here you will find works by Vermeer, Frans Hals, Jan Steen and
Van Gogh Museum: There is no other place in the world where
you can see so many of Vincent van Gogh's paintings under one roof. The
Museum is situated on the Museumplein in Amsterdam, between the Rijksmuseum
and the Stedelijk Museum.
Beurs (Exchange). The renowned Amsterdam architect H.P.
Berlage designed the Beurs in 1903, better known to the Amsterdammers as
"Beurs van Berlage." With its sober, brick facades, its restrained
ornamentation and its iron roof, the Beurs marks the beginning of modern
architecture in Holland.
The Anne Frank House is situated in the centre Amsterdam:
the hiding place where Anne Frank wrote her famous diary during World War
II. If this exhibition impresses you with the humanity and immense bravery
of those Dutch citizens who risked their own lives hiding Jews during the
Second World War, you won’t want to miss the less well known but fascinating
Dutch Resistance Museum (Amsterdams Verzetsmuseum). Although a little less
central (take the no. 9 tram from Central Station and get off at the zoo),
it is well worth the effort to learn so much about life in Holland under the
Nazi occupation. There is a café and shop in the museum. (Opens daily but
not till 10.00 Tuesday to Friday and not till 11.00 Saturday to Monday.)
Where to stay
Amsterdam must have one of the widest choices of accommodation
of any city in the world, and all budgets and tastes are catered for. Some
of the really cheap hotels and hostels are of poor quality, and it is
advisable to read some reviews before you book. The 2-star Alp Hotel is
right in the centre and offers 16 en-suite rooms, some with a balcony. There
is no restaurant, but the hotel gives you free hot drinks and fruit all day,
and there are cafes and restaurants nearby. You can walk from here to many
of the museums mentioned above. Similarly handy for the museum district and
next to the Vondelpark is the 3-star Hotel Parkview. There is breakfast
available in the lounge, and again there are cafes and restaurants nearby.
The hotel has free Wifi. In the 4-star category, try the highly rated Hotel
Estherea, a boutique hotel on the Singel Canal, in a quiet area but still in
the centre of the city. Some rooms have a canal view, but in any case you
can see the canal from the lounge, where they serve free hot drinks and will
lend you an iPad free of charge during your stay (but Wifi is only free in
the lobby). Finally, and also in the canal district, is the 5-star
‘lifestyle hotel’ Andaz Amsterdam Prinsengracht (a Hyatt Hotel). All 122
rooms have been individually designed and offer the usual luxurious extras
that you would expect. The hotel offers free bikes (the way to get around in
Amsterdam) and has a Spa and Wellness Centre. Unusually for some more
expensive hotels, Wifi is free.