Unique Places in Amsterdam

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Most Viewed Off The Beaten Path in Amsterdam

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    Banning poles (Dutch: Banpalen)

    by Pijlmans Updated Apr 6, 2014

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    Four authentic "banning poles" or "boundary stakes" (banpaal in Dutch) can be found around Amsterdam. In 1544 emperor Charles V granted Amsterdam the right to ban criminals, vagabonds and other undesirable individuals to one German mile (7.4 km) outside the city gates. Six boundary stakes along the main approaches to the city indicated the borders of this banishment area. Exiles were forbidden to enter the area within the limits of the stakes until their banishment had ended. By entering the area they risked capital punishment.

    Banning was a popular punishment for thieves and beggars, but also for cursing, gambling or prostitution. Nobody has been exiled since 1800.

    On the banning poles is written "Terminus Proscriptions" and "Uiterste Palen Der Ballingen" which is respectively Latin and Dutch for "limit post of the banished".

    Interestingly, in 1650 the famous Dutch painter Rembrandt made an etching showing one of these banning poles. This "Rembrandt pole" dates from 1624 and has been relocated several times. The lower part unfortunately has been destroyed, but the remaining part can now be found in the Geuzenbos at the Spaarnwouderdijk, close to its original position where it was painted by Rembrandt. The exact location is behind the water-pumping station near the Wethouder van Essenweg. You'll have to climb over a small wooden fence to reach it, this is completely legal to do, the fence is just there to keep the sheep inside (coordinates N52 23.521 E4 46.153).

    The other 3 remaining banning poles can be found here:

    - Sloterweg in Sloten, hidden in an alley between house numbers 1204 and 1208. The original boundary stake from 1624 along the Sloterweg in Sloten marked the southwestern extent of the banishment area and was replaced in 1794, since it was falling into ruin (coordinates N52 20.501 E4 47.927).

    - Amsterdamseweg 210 in Amstelveen dating from 1625 . The banning pool on the Amsterdamseweg in Amstelveen is close to the parks De Braak, Thijssepark and Broersepark in Amstelveen and a visit to the banning pole could be combined with a visit to these parks (coordinates N52 18.810 E4 50.826).

    - Along the river Amstel, Amsteldijk Noord, close to house number 65. This banning pole from 1625 is included in a marked 10 km walk through the Middelpolder (coordinates N52 18.624 E4 54.278).

    I made a 48 km cycle tour along the banning poles called Amsterbanned. Click on the link for more info!

    Related to:
    • Cycling
    • Historical Travel

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    Vintage VouDou Records

    by pieter_jan_v Updated Jan 30, 2014

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    A new smaller shop started in 2013: Vintage VouDou Records at the Oudekerksplein 26 at the heart of the Red Light District (ring the door bell at the gate).

    The shop's specialities are Soul, Funk, Latin, Afro, Calypso, Brazil, Jazz and Soundtrack.

    Business hours:
    Mo-We: On appointment by phone
    Th-Fr: 3PM - 7PM
    Sa: 1PM - 6PM
    Open on Thursdays, Fridays and Saturdays.

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    • Hiking and Walking
    • Music

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    Haarlemmerdijk - Spending money.

    by Jerelis Written Jan 26, 2014

    You’re also in the right place for a makeover, the lovely Sharon at Dare2Ware will make a piercing so much fun. The artists at House of Tattoos around the corner are also extremely talented. And if you want to top off your new look with a bright magenta fringe, visit Kinki hairdressers down the street.

    With all those stores offering fashion and accessories, toys, gifts, jewellery, books, electronics and specialty delicatessens – the biggest problem in the Haarlemmerdijk will be deciding what to spend your money on. Do consider that ‘de Dijk’ is a Mecca for foodies like myself. So, do-it-yourself with kitchen utensils from Deksels!, the amazing cookbooks at De Kookboekhandel (one of its kind!), cupcake supplies from De Tafel van 18, or the Tea Bar‘s teas. Or just feast on Jordino’s Italian ice cream, Small World‘s huge sandwiches and restaurant Balraj’s great Indian food. Do consider the slogan of this amazing street: If you think you’ve seen it all, then you haven’t been to Amsterdam’s Haarlemmerdijk yet!

    Address: Haarlemmerdijk, Amsterdam.
    Directions: At the north western part of the old historical city center of Amsterdam.

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    Haarlemmerdijk - The old road to Haarlem.

    by Jerelis Updated Jan 26, 2014

    Some streets make you want to strut down them like you’re Travolta in Saturday Night Fever. De Haarlemmerdijk might not match 1970′s Brooklyn, but with its plethora of detail stores and beautiful old buildings, no wonder a lot of places here have been noticed by other members of Virtual Tourist! It’s amazing how many great hangouts can be found along such a small stretch of pavement. I will describe some of my favorites later on.

    The streets starts out at the square Haarlemmerplein, with the amazing Haarlemmerpoort or Willemspoort city gate, which is located at the western end of the Haarlemmerdijk. Like in most cities in the 1970s, a traffic thoroughfare was built in this particular neighbourhood, for which a large part of the Haarlemmerdijk and part of the buildings on the north facade of Haarlemmerplein were demolished. This caused the square to lose its cohesion and alos lose some of these beautiful old mansions and great facades to look at. Currently, new buildings are being built on the north facade to once again complete the square. Still a shame!

    Address: Haarlemmerdijk, Amsterdam.
    Directions: At the north western part of the old historical city center of Amsterdam.

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    Haarlemmerdijk - Watching the World go by.

    by Jerelis Written Jan 26, 2014

    Have you ever had the feeling that all of the world’s shopping streets pretty much have the same stuff on offer? Well then, you need to visit Amsterdam’s Haarlemmerdijk – it’s hip and it’s the perfect spot for hours of relaxed browsing, dining and bar-hopping! The Haarlemmerdijk is a true gem. Offering independent boutiques and specialty stores, little salons, trendy but affordable restaurants and bars and the oldest cinema in Amsterdam. You are guaranteed to find a special little something from Amsterdam in this alternative shopping district. And with a constant passing parade of people along the Haarlemmerdijk, you can spend a very entertaining time just watching the world go by.

    For example start with a croissant at Mediterannee and go by “2 For Joy” for fresh roasted coffee. Shop at revamp store Restored; at Mary Ann, run by wonderful ladies who really know how to rock old-school brassieres; at sneaker store Seventyfive, or photography specialists Nivo Schweitzer. As a film fan, I love browsing through the cult DVDs and posters at the wonderfully geeky Silver Screen, or catch a screening in one of Amsterdam’s nicest and oldest cinemas, The Movies.

    Address: Haarlemmerdijk, Amsterdam.
    Directions: At the north western part of the old historical city center of Amsterdam.

    Related to:
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    • Romantic Travel and Honeymoons

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    Frankendael

    by Nemorino Updated Oct 23, 2013

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    Frankendael House is said to be one of the very few remaining stately homes in Amsterdam. It was built in the 17th century on reclaimed land that used to be a lake, hence the name Watergraafsmeer.

    The house and park are on Middenweg. Follow the number 9 tram line to get there.

    Second photo: The house itself is closed and seems to be empty, but the surrounding park is open to the public.

    Third photo: Pond in the park at Frankendael.

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    Hollandsche Schouwburg (Dutch Theater)

    by Nemorino Updated Oct 23, 2013

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    The Hollandsche Schouwburg was built as a theater in 1892, but during the Second World War it was taken over by the Nazis and used as a deportation center for Jews. Thousands of men, women and children were sent from here to the concentration camps, where most of them were murdered.

    In 1962 the Hollandsche Schouwburg formally became a war memorial, with an open courtyard and obelisk where the theater stage used to be. On the first floor there is an exhibition about the persecution of Jews in the Netherlands. It is open daily from 11:00 to 16:00. (Closed on Yom Kippur.) Admission is free.

    The address is Plantage Middenlaan 24.

    Tram 9 and 14, get off at Plantage Kerklaan.

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    Dutch Expressionism architecture(Amsterdam school)

    by max_t Written Sep 19, 2013

    If you love architecture of the first half of 20th century, an Amsterdam school tour is a must!
    I was cycling across the city when two buildings at Roelof Hartplein Square (south from central Amsterdam) made me pull brakes astonished.
    The first remarkable building was almost functionalist Het Nieuwe Huis, a dark redbrick with round-shaped prominent ends of central façade topped with oval towers and a clocktower. The second one was Huize Lydia, U-shaped residental with geometrical shapes and Art Nouveau windows and entrances (with notable typeface used for numbers).
    Later I discovered that both were examples of Amsterdam school, аn architectural movement of 1910-1930s, a part of Expressionist architecture. Unfortunately I had no time to explore more of it but it’s a good reason to come again.
    Amsterdam school is well described in Wikipedia and Dutch article lists buildings in Amsterdam and other cities of Netherlands. The most important it Het Schip which even hosts museum of the Amsterdam School!

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    • Architecture

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    Plane Spotting at Schiphol

    by swissfondue Updated Aug 11, 2013

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    If you are an aviation enthusiast or just enjoy watching planes take off and land then Schiphol Airport is the place to be. As well as a massive observation deck called the Panorama Terrace which runs the length of the main terminal building there are a number of parking places close to the runway. At any time of the day you will see locals setting up beside the tarmac for a few hours of plane spotting and a picnic. Easy directions on how to access these areas can be found on the airport website. Schiphol is one of Europe's busiest airports using five runways so there is something to see every couple of minutes. Schiphol airport is a few minutes by train from Amsterdam Centraal. Alternatively, there is plenty of car parking available (charges apply) and of course a bike track runs around the airport perimeter.

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    Ferris Wheel, Dam Square, Amsterdam, NL

    by TrendsetterME Updated May 26, 2013

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    Whatever the weather, there is always something going on there on the Dam Square ...

    So, expect lots of entertainment. In spring, there may be a carnival on or u can have a go on the colorful "Ferris Wheel".

    Here you can watch my "Wheel @ Dam Square" Video ... :
    Wheel Video

    In the summer months, mimes and other street performers come out to surprise unexpected onlookers.

    Even its such popular at the Dam Square area, that you might even have to wait for a seat at one of the many cafés and bars.

    Very enjoyable and recommendable spot of Amsterdam ... :)

    Related to:
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    • Festivals
    • Food and Dining

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    H.H. Petrus en Pauluskerk

    by leics Written Apr 6, 2013

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    I stumbled upon the Roman Catholic church of Saints Peter and Paul quite unexpectedly whilst having my last wander around central historical Amsterdam before taking the train to Schiphol for my flight back.

    Kalverstraat is shopping...shopping...shopping, filled with national and multi-national chains stores as well as individual upmarket shops. Not somewhere I intended to linger, so it was pure chance that I happened to wander the section which included ‘Der Pappegai’ (The Parrot’).

    Why ‘Der Pappegai’? Well, there were times in the past when Roman Catholicism could not be practised inthe Netherlands (as in the UK) and the original church was hidden in the garden of the bird-trader’s house which once stood on this spot. You can see the parrot on one side of the entrance portal, with a statue of St Joseph on the opposite side.

    By the mid-1800s Roman Catholics were free to practise their religion and the building you can visit now dates from that time. The architect was one Gerrit Moele who did a great job of creating a neo-Gothic church light enough to be built on Amsterdam’s soft soil. The entrance portal is really quite small, so the width and lofty heights of the church within comes as a great surprise.

    There is some lovely stained glass within the church but my eye was particularly caught by the beautiful mosaics in the entrance portal, created by Antoon Molkenboer, and especially by the figure of Mary Magdalene (who is, the church website tells me, supposed to represent a worldly woman and the materialism of Kalverstraat).

    The church invites you in for ’15 minutes of calm’ and I did think it would be a lovely place to sit and ponder for a while, regardless of religion (or lack of it).

    If you visit on a Sunday you will hear Gregorian chant at the 1030 and 1215 Masses, which are both in Latin.

    Related to:
    • Architecture
    • Historical Travel
    • Religious Travel

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    Singel 166

    by leics Updated Apr 6, 2013

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    This house has the narrowest facade in the city. The (probably untruthful) story goes that when a wealthy Amsterdammer had his huge house constructed his coachman said that the doorway was 'as wide as a house'. So the coachman got a house built for his quarters, as wide as the doorway.

    Singel 166 must be a fun place to live...as long as you are only one or two people!

    I love the way every inch of space has been used to create another dwelling along the canal. I noticed several other very narrow houses as I wandered along this oldest of Amsterdam's canals (it was, originally, the defensive moat for the Medieval city).

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    • Architecture
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    Toll House

    by HORSCHECK Written Dec 2, 2012

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    The history of Amsterdam's Toll House (Tolhuis) dates back to approximately 1660. With the opening of the Great North Holland Canal (Groot Noordhollandsch Kanaal) in the early 19th century, the Toll House was redundant with limited prospects for future use.

    In 1859 the current building was completed as a local restaurant and tavern. When we came across the Toll House in October 2012, the last oweners had just sold the place a month ago, so that it looked quite empty.

    In the Toll House garden several statues of playing children can be found.

    Directions:
    The Toll House is located at the street Buiksloterweg 7 on the northern bank of the lake IJ. It can be reached by free ferry with the destination "Buiksloterweg", which leaves directly behind the Central Railway Station.

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    Overhoeks Tower and EYE Film Institute

    by HORSCHECK Written Dec 2, 2012

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    The so called Overhoeks Tower and the modern EYE Film Institute seem to form an architectural ensemble on the northern bank of the lake IJ, even though they were built at different times in different architectural styles and for different purposes.

    The 80 m tall Overhoeks Tower was completed in 1971 after designs of the architect Arthur Stahl. At that time it was Amsterdam's highest skyscraper and used as office space for the Royal Dutch Shell company.

    Nowadys the Overhoeks Tower belongs to the municipality of Amsterdam, which is currently looking for a new purpose of the building.

    Just next to the Overhoeks Tower stands the ultramodern EYE Film Institute. The building was designed by the Austrian Delugan Meissl Associated Architects. It was finished in 2012, which is also when the EYE Film Institute moved in. The outdoor terrace of the building offers panoramic views of the southern bank of the lake.

    Directions:
    The Overhoeks Tower and EYE Film Institute are situated on the northern bank of the lake IJ, just opposite of the Central Railway Station. The easiest way to get there, is to catch the free ferry from the Central Railway Station to the the Buiksloterweg.

    EYE Film Institute: http://www.eyefilm.nl/

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    NDSM Shipyard

    by HORSCHECK Written Dec 2, 2012

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    Amsterdam's biggest shipyard NDSM (Nederlandse Dok en Scheepsbouw Mattschappij) closed down in 1979 when the shipbuilding business wasn't profitable anymore.

    Since the late 1990's the wide NDSM area has been transfomed into an alternative district, which is a good contrast to the narrow streets of the historical city centre.

    The area is dominated by the long NDSM warehouse building. It is nowadays used for exhibitions and artist offices. A rusty crane and some old colourful trams can be found here as well.

    Further to the east stands the Cafe Norderlicht which invites for a rest in an old greenhouse. Just in front of the cafe the geWoonboot, an environmentally friendly houseboat, can be seen and on certain days also visited.

    To the west from the ferry terminal colourful container dwellings are used as student accommodation. Not far from here the Amstel Botel is moored at the NDSM Pier3. It is a luxurious floating hotel on a ship with more than 150 rooms.

    Directions:
    The former NDSM wharf is located on the northern bank of the lake IJ. The free ferry service from Amsterdam's Central Railway Station runs about twice per hour and needs about 15 minutes to get to NDSM.

    Website: http://www.ndsm.nl/

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Amsterdam Off The Beaten Path

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If you want to discover the Amsterdam hidden gems, best visit one of the local tourist offices first. They have great walking- and cycling routes booklets that will lead you to the most surprising...
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