Cultural highlights & milestones

Canal Ring
2013 is a very special year for Amsterdam. Several of the city’s iconic institutions have been celebrating remarkable milestones throughout the year.

2013 is a very special year for Amsterdam. Several of the city’s iconic institutions have been celebrating remarkable milestones and hosting a variety of unique events throughout the year. Here are just 10 great reasons why Amsterdam is the place to be in 2013!

400 years of the Amsterdam canals

One of the city's most iconic sights, 2013 marks the 400th year since construction began on the Canal Ring. The Amsterdam canals are unique: a work of art attesting to outstanding city planning and architecture that aptly expresses the growth and success of Amsterdam in the Dutch Golden Age. The Canal Ring was awarded UNESCO World Heritage status in 2010 and to this day, the city's biggest celebrations such as King's Day (formerly Queen's Day) and Gay Pride take place on the canals. During 2013, the canals are a hotspot for concerts, art, festivals and the subject of several special exhibitions.

175 years of Artis Zoo

The oldest and best-known zoo in the Netherlands, Amsterdam’s Artis Royal Zoo has been celebrating 175 years of nature, culture and heritage throughout 2013. Far more than just a zoo, Artis is a cultural meeting place, a city park and a peaceful oasis in the centre of Amsterdam. Founded in 1838, the zoo is presently home to in the region of 6,100 animals from about 900 different species.

Reopening of the Rijksmuseum

After extensive renovations, the Rijksmuseum finally reopened its doors in April 2013. Designed by architect Pierre Cuypers, the museum has been fully restored by Spanish architects agency Cruz y Ortis, respectfully bringing the museum up to date for 21st-century visitors. Upon opening in April, it revealed 80 restored halls in which 8,000 items narrate the story of 800 years of Dutch art and history. The museum has been given a completely new look and once again Rembrandt’s The Night Watch hangs in its special room for all to enjoy!

125 years of the Royal Concertgebouw

This Amsterdam concert hall welcomed its first visitors in April 1888. 125 years later, the Royal Concertgebouw is a world leader in the field, famed for its unique acoustics. More than 700 concerts are held at the Royal Concertgebouw every year, with internationally-acclaimed soloists, orchestras and conductors regularly gracing the stage. Home to the Royal Concertgebouw Orchestra, the concert hall is celebrating its 125th anniversary with an enormous variety of special concerts and events – although, arguably every day is special in the Royal Concertgebouw.

125 years of the Royal Concertgebouw Orchestra

With chief conductor Mariss Jansons at the helm, the renowned orchestra is celebrating its 125th anniversary with a world tour taking in six continents. Comprising 120 extremely talented and dedicated musicians, the Royal Concertgebouw Orchestra never fails to put on a spellbinding performance. The orchestra also performs at the Prinsengracht Concert in August.

Felix Meritis: 225 years of enlightenment

Amsterdam’s Felix Meritis was founded in 1788 as a centre for international art, culture, trade and science. The ‘temple of enlightenment’ is celebrating its 225th anniversary with a series of special readings, exhibitions, educational programmes and guided tours. The spectacular Felix Meritis Observatory also opened to the public for the first time in 200 years.

150 years since the abolition of slavery

On 1 July 2013, it was exactly 150 years since Dutch slavery was abolished in the former colonies of Suriname and the Dutch Antilles. Due to the important role that Amsterdam played in the history of slavery, the city is bringing broad attention to the anniversary and the significance of the abolition. The Stichting Herdenking Slavernijverleden 2013 (Foundation for the Commemoration of Slavery 2013) has prepared a commemorative programme of events.

40 years of the Van Gogh Museum

The Van Gogh Museum reopened following renovations in spring 2013, 160 years after the birth of Vincent Van Gogh and 40 years since the museum opened. The museum houses the world’s largest collection of drawings, paintings and letters by the artist alongside works by Van Gogh’s contemporaries and is dedicated to exhibiting the works to as broad an audience as possible. Welcoming 1.6 million visitors every year, the museum is one of the 25 most-visited museums in the world.

The Netherlands and Russia in 2013

Russia is important for the Netherlands when it comes to economic, cultural and socio-political concerns. Strong ties have been forged between the two countries, dating back to Czar Peter’s visit to the Netherlands in 1697 – a visit that kicked off fruitful trade relations and the exchange of expertise. Zaandam is also celebrating Dutch links with Russia in 2013: the Czar Peter House is particularly in the limelight and numerous Russian-related activities are taking place in the region.

100 years of the Frans Hals Museum

Haarlem’s Frans Hals Museum celebrated its centenary with an anniversary exhibition featuring key works by the Dutch painter alongside paintings by artists including Titiaan, Rembrandt, Van Dyck, Jordaens and Rubens. The exhibition ran until 28 July 2013. The museum is home to the largest collection of paintings by Frans Hals in the world. Haarlem’s most renowned Golden Age artist, Hals specialised in portraits and was acclaimed for his accurate, expressive style.