From the popular Dam Square, the historical centre and beating heart of Amsterdam, our guided tour continues past two of the city’s visible landmarks, the Mint Tower (Munttoren) or Coin Tower with a clock on each of its four sides and thirty-eight carillon of bells chiming every fifteen minutes and the 15th century semi-circular fortress, Weepers’ Tower (Tower of Tears) so called because during the old days sailors’ wives would come to this place to bid good-bye to their husbands before they embarked on long voyage overseas.
With the highest museum density in the world, Amsterdam boasts 141 galleries and 31 museums. Our must-see list includes the most famous museums of Amsterdam – the Van Gogh, Stedelijk and Rijksmuseum all located around the scenic area of Museumplein.
Visiting the Van Gogh Museum is a unique experience. You will enjoy an independent visit as no guided tours are allowed so you will be able to explore on your own but without photos and large bags. Before entering the museum which consists of two buildings, modern elliptical aside the functionalist design, the staff will explain its history and layouts. The museum houses the world’s largest collection of Van Gogh’s original paintings (including the highly prized “The Sunflowers” valued at US$74.5 million), letters, drawings, prints as well as many of the artist’s self-portraits.
The Stedelijk is the national museum of centemporary art in paintings, sculpture, printing, drawing, photography, and video. The Rijksmuseum own’s the world’s best collection of Dutch arts and paintings of such famous masters as Rembrandt.
The house where the celebrated diary of Anne Frank (she was only 15 years old at the time of her death in the German concentration camp) was written during World War II is worth a visit, both nostalgic and emotional. The place where two Jewish families hid from Nazi persecution from 6 July 1942 until their betrayal on 4 August 1944 is a hidden annex of an Amsterdam canal house, consisting of a front house and a back annex still in authentic condition.
An exploration of Amsterdam’s culture won’t be complete without the likes of its sex, erotic, hash, or torture museums particularly the “Venustempel” Sex Museum on the Damrak, the world’s first and oldest of its kind, containing large collection of erotic photographs and recordings personally gathered by the museum owners.
Moreover, Amsterdam has all sorts of interestingly unusual museums. All things fluoro is the Electric Ladyland, anything about human body parts, the Vrolik, optometric objects at the Spectacles’, and the Pipe museum of smoking pipes. Others are the museums for houseboat, bags and purses, pianos, cat cabinet, and the Biblical.
Experience two other important things that Amsterdam is internationally famous for – cheese and windmills. And so we’re on our way to the “Jacobs Hoeve” authentic cheese farm by travelling on the lush green meadow lowlands of Katwoude village about 20 minutes north of Amsterdam. After a warm welcome by the friendly staff dressed in traditional Dutch costume we’re treated to a professional demonstration of the traditional cheese-making process from milk to finished product and later sample the various unique flavours of cheese. Aside from the world-famous Edam and Gouda cheese the farm also makes sheep and goat cheese.
The last leg of our Dutch tour will continue on the next December issue.
TRIVIA: Amsterdam has no less than 165 canals and 1,281 bridges, earning the city the reputation of “Venice of the North”