Things to do in the Spiegelkwartier
Amsterdam’s Spiegelkwartier (mirror quarter) is an absolute must for lovers of art, antiques and curiosities, with dozens of specialised dealers, thrift shops and design boutiques lining the historic streets. Elsewhere, this leafy southern segment of the Canal Belt offers picturesque cafes, quirky cultural attractions and several fascinating canal house museums with hidden courtyard gardens.
Window shop for antiques and artwork
Following the construction of the Rijksmuseum in 1900, the Spiegelkwartier emerged as Amsterdam’s centre for antiques and art. More than 70 antique shops and galleries in this area boast impressive collections of paintings, ceramics, glass, jewellery, furniture, and collectables. Whether centuries old or thoroughly modern, you're bound to find something here that strikes your fancy. Want to ramp up your art-history knowledge even further? The gems of the Museum Quarter, including the Rijksmuseum and Van Gogh Museum, are only steps away.
Discover exceptional photographers at FOAM
FOAM exhibits all genres of photography, from fine art to documentary and historical to contemporary. It’s a museum with an outstanding international reputation and serves as a creative hub where photographers can meet to engage with each other and the public. Besides its large exhibitions of established photographers, the museum also regularly exhibits new talent in smaller-scale shows.
Explore the area's culinary and coffee scene
Nestled amongst the leafy streets of the Spiegelkwartier, you’ll find various culinary treasures for a hearty lunch or coffee break. Hip Italian deli Zero Zero is a recent addition to the neighbourhood and is the new hotspot for porchetta and bresaola sandwiches. Pair this with a coffee and a slab of cake from Back to Black just around the corner. BUFFET Van Odette, with its beautiful outdoor seating on the Prinsengracht and stylish dining room, is the perfect spot for a sit-down lunch or dinner paired with fine natural wines. Or head to Pasta e Basta for a memorable evening meal where the serving staff serenade you as you dine.
Delve into the archives in a stunning Art Deco building
The Amsterdam City Archives is the largest – and many say, most beautiful – city archive in the world. Located in the historic De Bazel building, it houses a historical topographical collection that includes millions of maps, drawings and pictures, a library and extensive audio, film and photo archives. Visitors must venture into the underground vault of this former bank to delve into Amsterdam’s history. Best of all, exhibitions are free to visit.
Nose around the mansions of the 17th-century elite
For some serious interior design inspiration, explore one of the city’s elegant canal houses formerly owned by wealthy Amsterdammers. Strolling through the period rooms of Museum Van Loon, you’ll encounter beautiful portraits, impressive pieces of furniture, silver and porcelain from different centuries. At the back, there’s a delightful secret garden which hosts occasional concerts. You can also soak up the authentic 19th-century atmosphere at the Willet-Holthuysen Museum. This sumptuous period mansion is beautifully preserved, with highlights including a collection of luxurious antiques, ornamental gardens and servants' quarters.
Find out why curiosity killed the cat
Not every city has a museum dedicated entirely to the role of cats in art and culture throughout history. The Kattenkabinet was established in memory of a frisky tomcat, John Pierpont Morgan, who was the long-time companion of the museum founder. Even if you’re not cat crazy, a stroll through the impressive rooms of this beautiful canal house - also used in the film Ocean’s Twelve - is an unexpected treat.
Check out the evening entertainment in the Leidsebuurt next door
There’s not so much going on the tranquil streets of the Spiegelkwartier by night, but a few steps away, you’ll be spoilt for choice in the area around Leidseplein called the Leidsebuurt. This buzzing neighbourhood is the place to find world-renowned gig venues Paradiso and Melkweg, as well as cinemas, jazz clubs and the city’s Theatre District.