Free Walking Tour 1: Historical Highlights of Amsterdam





Historical Route

  • Start: Dam Square
  • End: Rembrandt Square
  • Time: 1 hour

  • Route Map:
  • Dam Square
  • Royal Palace
  • Nieuwe Kerk
  • National Monument
  • Begijnhof
  • Flower Market (Bloemenmarkt)
  • Rembrandt Square

    Highlights on the Historical Amsterdam Route

1. Dam Square

  • Location: Central Amsterdam.
  • Significance: The heart of the city, bustling with energy and events.
  • Points of Interest: The Royal Palace, Nieuwe Kerk, and the National Monument.
  • Interesting Fact: Dam Square was originally a dam built in the 13th century to prevent the Amstel River from flooding the city.

2. Royal Palace

  • Location: Western side of Dam Square.
  • Significance: Used for royal events and official state functions.
  • Interesting Fact: Built as a city hall in the 17th century during the Dutch Golden Age, it showcases classical Dutch architecture.
  • More Info: The palace was designed by architect Jacob van Campen and is considered one of the finest examples of Dutch Classicism. It features a large central hall known as the Burgerzaal, with a marble floor map of the world.

3. Nieuwe Kerk

  • Location: Adjacent to the Royal Palace.
  • Significance: A historic church known for exhibitions and royal ceremonies.
  • Interesting Fact: Founded in the 15th century, it hosts the investiture of Dutch monarchs.
  • More Info: The church features stunning Gothic architecture and has served as the site for several important events, including royal weddings and state funerals. It is now a museum and exhibition space, showcasing historical and contemporary art.

4. National Monument

  • Location: Eastern side of Dam Square.
  • Significance: Commemorates Dutch soldiers and resistance members who died in WWII.
  • Interesting Fact: Erected in 1956, it features a central obelisk surrounded by allegorical sculptures.
  • More Info: Designed by architect J.J.P. Oud, the monument includes sculptures by John Rädecker and his sons, symbolizing suffering, peace, and resistance. Every year on May 4th, the Dutch observe a national remembrance ceremony at this site.

5. Begijnhof

  • Location: Spui square, accessible through a small door off the square.
  • Significance: A serene courtyard dating back to medieval times, it was home to the Beguines, a Catholic sisterhood.
  • Interesting Fact: Contains one of the oldest wooden houses in Amsterdam, built around 1528.
  • More Info: The Begijnhof is an oasis of calm in the bustling city. It features historic buildings, including the English Reformed Church, which dates back to the 15th century. The courtyard was originally a sanctuary for the Beguines, women who led a pious life without taking formal religious vows.

6. Flower Market (Bloemenmarkt)

  • Location: Singel canal between Muntplein and Koningsplein.
  • Significance: The world’s only floating flower market.
  • Interesting Fact: Established in 1862, it reflects the Netherlands’ rich horticultural tradition with a stunning array of flowers and bulbs.
  • More Info: The market is a vibrant display of Dutch floriculture, offering everything from tulips and narcissus to exotic plants. It is a popular destination for both locals and tourists, providing a picturesque view along the Singel canal.

7. Rembrandt Square

  • Location: Central Amsterdam, at the intersection of several streets.
  • Significance: Named after the famous painter Rembrandt van Rijn, it’s a vibrant square with numerous cafes and bars.
  • Interesting Fact: Features a statue of Rembrandt, created in 1852.
  • More Info: The square was once the site of a butter and dairy market. Today, it is a lively hub for nightlife and dining, surrounded by historic buildings and modern establishments. The statue of Rembrandt is one of the oldest surviving statues in Amsterdam.

    In-Depth Historical Amsterdam Facts

Dam Square

  • History: Established in the 13th century, Dam Square was originally a dam built to protect the city from the Amstel River. Over time, it evolved into the central gathering place of Amsterdam, hosting markets, celebrations, and political events. The square has witnessed significant historical moments, including the proclamation of the Batavian Republic in 1795 and the liberation celebrations in 1945.
  • Architectural Evolution: The buildings surrounding Dam Square reflect a mix of architectural styles from different periods, including the Gothic Nieuwe Kerk and the neoclassical Royal Palace.

Royal Palace

  • Construction and Design: The Royal Palace was constructed between 1648 and 1655, designed by architect Jacob van Campen. It was originally intended to serve as the city hall for the magistrates of Amsterdam. The building's design was inspired by the public buildings of ancient Rome, emphasizing grandeur and civic pride.
  • Historical Use: During the French occupation of the Netherlands, it was converted into a royal palace by King Louis Napoleon. After the fall of Napoleon, it was retained by the Dutch royal family for official functions and state occasions.

Nieuwe Kerk

  • Gothic Masterpiece: The Nieuwe Kerk, or New Church, was built to accommodate the growing population of Amsterdam in the 15th century. Its Gothic architecture is characterized by tall, pointed arches, ribbed vaults, and flying buttresses.
  • Cultural Significance: The church has played a pivotal role in Dutch history, hosting the inaugurations of Dutch monarchs and other important ceremonies. It also houses the tomb of Dutch naval hero Michiel de Ruyter.

National Monument

  • Design and Symbolism: The National Monument was designed by J.J.P. Oud and unveiled in 1956 to honor the victims of World War II. The central obelisk is flanked by sculptures representing the suffering of war, peace, and the resistance. The reliefs include depictions of chained figures symbolizing the oppression during the war, and doves representing peace and freedom.
  • Annual Remembrance: Every year on May 4th, the Netherlands observes a national remembrance ceremony at the monument, commemorating those who lost their lives in the war.

Begijnhof

  • Medieval Haven: The Begijnhof dates back to the early 14th century and served as a sanctuary for the Beguines, a Catholic sisterhood who lived a semi-monastic life without taking formal vows. The courtyard is one of the oldest in Amsterdam and includes historic buildings and the English Reformed Church.
  • Architectural Highlights: The Begijnhof houses one of the oldest wooden buildings in the city, Het Houten Huys, which dates back to around 1528. The courtyard offers a glimpse into the medieval past of Amsterdam and the lives of the Beguines.

Flower Market (Bloemenmarkt)

  • Floating Marvel: The Bloemenmarkt is the only floating flower market in the world, with flower stalls set up on houseboats along the Singel canal. It reflects the Dutch tradition of trading and cultivating flowers, particularly tulips, which have been an integral part of the country's cultural and economic history.
  • Colorful Display: The market offers a wide variety of flowers, bulbs, and gardening supplies, making it a popular destination for both locals and tourists. The vibrant displays provide a colorful and fragrant experience year-round.

Rembrandt Square

  • Cultural Hub: Rembrandt Square, named after the famous Dutch painter Rembrandt van Rijn, has evolved from a market square to a lively cultural and entertainment center. The square is surrounded by cafes, bars, and restaurants, making it a popular spot for socializing and nightlife.
  • Statue of Rembrandt: The statue of Rembrandt in the center of the square was created by sculptor Louis Royer in 1852. It stands as a tribute to the artist, who spent much of his life in Amsterdam and produced some of his most famous works here. The square also features bronze sculptures depicting characters from Rembrandt's "Night Watch."

Enjoy Your Historical Walk in Amsterdam!

With this comprehensive guide, you are ready to lead an engaging and informative tour through Amsterdam’s historical highlights. Visit FreeWalkingTourAmsterdam.eu for more details and reservations.