Cultural ties in the heart of Amsterdam
If you want to explore the very best of Amsterdam’s cultural wealth, chances are you’ll be spending quite a lot of time in the plush part of town known as the Museum Quarter. Amsterdam’s answer to London’s South Kensington and New York’s Museum Mile is located just south of the centre, bordered by the Stadhouderskade to the north, the Hobbemakade and Reinier Vinkeleskade to the east, Vondelpark to the west and Emmastraat to the south.
A rags to riches story
Some 130 years ago, a stinky wax candle factory and marshy meadows made way for what’s become the city’s most affluent area. Construction began following the completion of the Rijksmuseum, with a street plan based on the design of P.J.H. Cuypers, the museum’s celebrated architect. Unsurprisingly, the quarter’s name comes from the presence of the city’s three major museums on Museumplein, all of which have recently been refurbished, adding a layer of lustre to the area. In addition to the aforementioned Rijksmuseum, there’s the Stedelijk Museum of modern art and the Van Gogh Museum. Also overlooking Museumplein is the Royal Concertgebouw, Amsterdam’s most important orchestral concert venue, internationally renowned for its acoustics and its house orchestra, the Royal Concertgebouw Orchestra. The vast open space of Museumplein itself plays host to major events each year, from screenings of Dutch football matches to large concerts and events, plus a picturesque ice rink in the winter. While the I amsterdam letters in front of the Rijksmueum have become the city’s most photographed attraction.
The Museum Quarter is home to Amsterdam’s most famous shopping street: P.C. Hooftstraat, where you can find many of the world’s major fashion brands and boutiques. But serious shoppers should certainly also visit the adjacent Van Baerlestraat for stylish local brands, while lovers of independent shops and boutiques should head to nearby Jacob Obrechtstraat and Cornelis Schuytstraat. Amidst all the purchasing potential, there are plenty of delicacies to be found (in both daytime and evening), as well as some suitably swanky (and also down-to-earth) drinking establishments. One such example, the House of Bols Cocktail & Genever Experience, has even become a tourist attraction in its own right.