I’m going to try to cover more Amsterdam neighborhoods (see previous post Amsterdam-Noord) in the next few weeks. Here’s a spotlight on Amsterdam-Oost, or “Amsterdam East,” an area with so much history, beauty and things to do! Here’s a list of my favorites…
Visit the Dappermarkt, open Monday through Friday from 9am to 6pm with stalls overflowing with local and foreign produce. You’ll find great Turkish and other Middle Eastern delights here. After collecting goods at the market, head to the Oosterpark, the first park constructed by the Amsterdam municipality in 1891 and a quiet oasis in the city, perfect for a picnic on a sunny day. And warm up with a home-brewed beer at Brouwerij ‘t IJ (Funenkade 7), housed in a former bathhouse next to a windmill. Sample several brews or take a brewery tour.
If you’re in the area, you have to visit the Jewish Historical Museum (Nieuwe Amstelstraat 1), housed in the Great Synagogue, built by the Ashkenazi Jews of Amsterdam in the 17th century. The museum hosts the most spectacular temporary exhibitions (on display till November 13th is the exhibition, “Unguarded Moments: Photographs by Marianne Breslauer” and on display till March 4, 2012 is the exhibition, “Saul Leiter: New York Reflections“) as well as detailing the extensive history of the Jews in the Netherlands (between 1600 and 1900 and from 1900 to today) in their permanent collection.
Across the street is the Portuguese Synagogue (Mr. Visserplein 3), constructed in the years 1671-1675, 75 years after the Sephardic Jews arrived in the Netherlands (read more about the history of the Synagogue). Visit the Synagogue for a candle-lit Winter Concert until March 2012. And just around the corner is the statue of the Dockworker on the Jonas Daniel Meijerplein that commemorates the first major protest from the Dutch against what was happening in their country under Nazi occupation on the 22nd and 23rd of February 1941. There are many more “Jewish Amsterdam” sights around the city that I highly recommend visiting, including the Hollandsche Schouwburg (Plantage Middenlaan 24), Auschwitz Memorial (Wertheim Park) and Monument to Jewish Resistance (Amstel 1), also in Amsterdam-Oost.
A visit to the area isn’t complete without a walk along the Jodenbreestraat, where you’ll find the Rembrandt House Museum (Jodenbreestraat 4), where Rembrandt lived from 1639 to 1656 when he went bankrupt and had to sell all his possessions at an auction. Stop by the lovely Soup en Zo (Jodenbreestraat 9a) for delicious fresh-made soups served with hardy brown or corn bread. With a daily changing menu (think pumpkin soup with coriander, spicy spinach soup with coconut, Indian curry soup with chicken, etc.), you’ll never go wrong. Or grab a coffee and muffin (their apple cinnamon muffins are delicious!) at Tony’s NY City Bagels (Jodenbreestraat 15).
And of course, the lovely Waterlooplein around the corner (see previous post).
Then there’s the lovely Natura Artis Magistra (Plantage Kerklaan 38-40). The Royal Amsterdam Zoo is Europe’s oldest zoo, founded in 1838 and definitely worth a visit for family’s and animal-lovers. Next door is the De Hortus Botanicus (Plantage Middenlaan 2a), one of the oldest botanical gardens in the world, with more than 4,000 different types of plants in their greenhouses and gardens.
Hungry? Why not check out Burgermeester (Plantage Kerklaan 37) for delicious (and inventive) burgers, ranging from salmon to lamb burgers as well as vegetarian options like pumpkin with portobello mushroom and gorgonzola and goat’s cheese and caramelized onions and apples (see previous post for more photographs). Or grab a coffee or a glass of wine at the neighborhood bar Cafe Koosje (Plantage Middenlaan 37). They also serve lunch (choose from a variety of sandwiches) and dinner (from schnitzel to Greek salads).
Other notable visits include the Tropenmuseum (Linaeusstraat 2), or “Museum of the Tropics,” one of the leading ethnographic museums in Europe. Its permanent collectionscover Southeast Asia, Oceania, Western Asia and North Africa, Africa, Latin America, Man and Environment and Music, Dance and Theater, and they also host temporary exhibitions like “Death Matters,” on display now. And the newly opened Tattoo Museum (Plantage Middenlaan 62) by famous tattoo artist Henk Schiffmacher. I visited the opening on Museumnacht, or “Museum Night” on Saturday, November 5th. Check out my post about the event.
Head to the Amstel where you’ll find the beautiful Hermitage Amsterdam (Amstel 51), housed in the building that served as a home for elderly women in the 17th century, known then as the Amstelhof. The Hermitage Amsterdam has an agreement with the Russian government to produce exhibitions together with the State Hermitage Museum in St Petersburg. On display till March 16, 2012 is the exhibition, “Rubens, Van Dyck & Jordaens: Flemish Painters from the Hermitage.”
You’ll also find the prestigious five-star Amstel Hotel (Professor Tulpplein 1), dating back to 1867. The hotel has been visited by the likes of England’s Queen Elizabeth, Henry Kissinger, Gustav Eiffel, Walt Disney, Audrey Hepburn, Steven Spielberg and the Rolling Stones. With 55 rooms, 24 suites and 1 Royal Suite, rates range from €300 to €3,000 a night! Wine and dine at the French-inspired one Michelin star restaurant La Rive.