Dam Square and the Royal Palace
Dam Square is the most important of Amsterdam’s squares. Important events take place here and it is a meeting point for residents. In the past, there was a weighing building in the square in which goods imported into the city were weighed. There is no trace of him today.
The highlight of Dam Square is the Royal Palace (Koninklijk Paleis). The building was built in the 17th century during the Dutch Golden Age. Initially, the town hall was located here. It wasn’t until the beginning of the 19th century that Louis Napoleon Bonaparte, King of the Netherlands, gave his palace to his brother, Napoleon Bonaparte. Ludwik spent only a few years here. During this time a lot of furniture and other French decorations appeared here. It is believed that nowhere outside of France we will find as many French exhibits from this period as in the Amsterdam palace. After the reign of Napoleon, the palace became the seat of the Dutch rulers – Things to do in Amsterdam
The palace can be visited during an independent tour. We start sightseeing from the great hall. Its ornament is a 6-meter sculpture of Atlas holding the globe on his shoulders. This sculpture referred to Dutch expansion. In addition to Atlas, in the hall we will see several other elements referring to sea conquests, including two maps on the floor.
In medieval times, the hall was open to residents and anyone could come here. During the tour we will see over 20 rooms. When visiting, it’s best to use the English audio guide.
At the Dam Square there is also the Nieuwe Kerk, or New Church. The temple was built in the 15th century in the Gothic style. We can go inside, where temporary exhibitions often take place. Inside, we will see some beautiful elements, including a huge monument of Admiral Michael de Ruyter, who became famous during the sea battles with the English. Admiral was buried in the church. It is also worth seeing the beautiful gate leading to the choir and the pulpit. Entrance to the church is paid.
At the back of the Royal Palace stands the famous Magna Plaza shopping center. The complex is located in a neo-Gothic building formerly owned by the main post office. It is worth taking a moment to see rich decorations, including a huge chandelier.
On the eastern side of the square since 1956 stands a monument to some of the fallen World War II and future armed conflicts. The monument has the appearance of a stone pointing upwards.
De Wallen – the red light district
De Wallen is one of the oldest areas of Amsterdam. Located on the east of Damark Street.
The most famous landmark in the De Wallen area is the Oude Kerk (Old Church). The temple building is over 800 years old and is considered the oldest building in the city. Entrance to the church is paid (payment by card only). In the middle we will see, among others wooden ceiling, beautiful organs (unfortunately, they were under renovation in 2017) and we will enter some rooms.
An interesting attraction of the church is the possibility of entering the tower, from which there is a view of the city. Entry to the top takes place during guided tours (payment by card only). We enter the church with the entrance on the south side, and the tower with the entrance on the west side. [update 2017]
What to see in the De Wallen district?
Ons’ Lieve Heer op Solder Church – a Catholic church built on the top floor of a private house. Catholics could not officially own churches in the Netherlands. Some, not wanting to renounce their religion, created private chapels. This is how the Church of Our Lord in the attic was created. During the tour, we will also go through the living quarters.
Het Kleinste Huis, address: Oude Hoogstraat 22 – the smallest house in Amsterdam. A filigree building from 1738. Today there is a store in it. It is worth coming and seeing the facade.
Het Wapen van Riga (address: Oudezijds Armsteeg 35) – Riga’s hands. One of the architecturally more interesting buildings in the old part of the city.
Pharmacy Jacob Hooy & Co, address: Kloveniersburgwal 12 – a historic pharmacy. Inside, we’ll see the historical interior and dishes, including jars and containers. It is worth looking inside.
Zeedijk street – one of the oldest streets in the city. We will find here several pubs with original decorations from the 16th or 17th century. It’s worth taking a stroll around the northern part.
The historic Stock Exchange building Beurs van Berlage – this impressive complex located on Damrak Street was built at the end of the 19th century. The author of the design was the architect Hendrik Petrus Berlage. The building can be visited (including the tower entrance) during a guided tour.
Oude Kerk is surrounded by the Oudekerksplein. Unfortunately, the famous Amsterdam Red Light District (Rosse Buurt) begins at the back of the church. In addition to women offering their charms from behind the glass, we will find here pubs, coffee shops and the Museum of Prostitution (Red Light Secrets).
With the exception of the view of modestly dressed women from behind the glass, this is a typical tourist area. We meet here people of all ages, young and old, most of whom came here out of curiosity and not in search of bodily pleasures. Remember not to take pictures on the spot.