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).
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.
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.
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!
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.
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 ... :
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 ... :)
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.
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).
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.
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.
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.
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/
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.
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.
You will almost certainly visit (or perhaps just pass by) the Oude Kerk, set in the middle of the Red Light district.
But you may not take the opportunity to look carefully at the Medieval (late 1400s) misericords inside (especially if you have only visited to see the tomb of Rembrandt's first wife).
Misericords are little shelves on the choir-seats, placed there for weary monks to rest themselves during long or night-time services.
In many Medieval churches they have fascinating carvings underneath and Ooude Kerk is no expception, although its misericords are more rustic simplicity than master-carvings. Luckily, they were not damaged during the 1566 iconoclasm in the church.
Many of the misericords in Oude Kerk represent homely sayings: don't pull too hard on a weak rope, money doesn't fall out of my arse, banging your head against a brick wall.....more photos in my travelogue.
I am dubious about one or two of them: the clothes are simply not right for the 1480s, and I suspect they were replaced in the early/mid 20th century.
Well worth seeking out.
This page became the saddest one in my record shop tour. Not only did Boudisque go out of busniess; Blue Note, Brutus and Virgin records are all gone now.
Find your way through the ever busy NIEUWENDIJK, but don't follow this street up towards the DAM Square; take a right into the GRAVENSTRAAT. There BLUE NOTE, a Jazz-CD's-only shop was located.
I you are only interested in CD's you could go back to the NIEUWENDIJK and criss the DAM square to visit FAME.
A new trance shop, Rush Hour Records is located at Spuistraat 98. Only modern Hip Hop, Trance & Dance, but for some of you it might be interesting.
I'll continue with the record shop trail.
Zutphen is a picturesque city along the river IJssel in the province Gelderland, in the mid-east of the Netherlands.
It is about 90 minutes from Amsterdam by train.
Zutphen used to be a fortified city, and the remains of the city wall, gates and defense towers remind you of this.
There are also several churches, among which the St Walburgis Church with the famous 16th century Librije library. In this old library, the books are locked with chains in order to prevent theft. It's one of the three libraries like that in the world!
See the link below for more information.
I say "solitude" but it probably isn't all that quiet and peaceful. There are still walking tour groups in and out of this secluded courtyard but it still has a feeling of peace and quiet here.
In the 12th century, this began as a religious retreat for women. It wasn't quite as strict as a convent, the women were not nuns though did have to vow chastity and obedience to the parish priest. They could leave at any time to get married and did not have to take a vow of poverty. They did good works, teach, tend the sick. They were referred to, some time later as Beguines. This "settlement" was originally surrounded by canals and marshland but over the years it was filled in. There is a church and a small chapel. The women would be buried in the church but when the official church in the Netherlands converted to Protestant, one woman refused to be buried in the "new" church. Though she was initially buried in the church, she was moved to a grave at the edge of the church grounds and you can still see her grave commemorated in the square. The last Beguine that lived here died in 1971 and since then, the houses have been given over to senior citizens.
So what is there to see here? Not a whole lot but it's very pretty, quiet, and one of the two oldest houses made of wood in Amsterdam still stands here. The church is pretty and you can also visit the chapel. The houses are the tall thin canal type houses with gabled roofs and pretty windows and decoration.
It's not all that easy to find. Take the tram to the Spui stop and go into the square. At one end, there is a sign to the Begijnof but keep to the left as there's a street veering off to the right at the same corner of the square. There's a little alleyway into the courtyard with information on the wall as you pass in.
See the website below for a lot of interesting information and history. There is a little shop outside the courtyard on Nieuwezijds Voorburgwal near the tram stop. They sell religious books and cards and postcards.
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