Sights in Amsterdam

The hub of Amsterdam is Dam Square. When we visited the city in July ’05, there was always lots of activity here — jugglers, mimes, musicians giving impromptu concerts. . . . The magnificent Royal Palace is on the edge of the square. Across from it is the Gothic De Nieuwe Kerk (new church), dating from 1414, where kings and queens are invested. It is worth a visit to marvel at its vast interior and to see the interesting art exhibits on display.

A few blocks away is De Oude Kerk. Built in 1250, it is the city’s oldest building and reportedly has the oldest timber roof in Europe. Inside, the windows are of lovely stained glass made by the artist Crabeth, and the floor is paved with the tombstones of heroes and celebrities.

If you are into Art Deco, you’ll definitely want to look in on the American Hotel, located near the Rijksmuseum. Built in 1902 and listed as a historical Art Nouveau property, it has kept its original decorative features. The restaurant is especially ornate and a good place to have lunch.

A short walk from the floating flower market (where everyone goes) took us to one of the city’s loveliest lesser-known areas, the Jordaan neighborhood. Its name comes from the French jardin, for garden. All the streets are named after flowers.

The attractions here are the lovely inner gardens, the Begijnhof and the Beguines. According to guidebooks, this is the most peaceful place in the busy inner city. The Begijnhof is a lovely courtyard with a small church, a chapel, gorgeous houses and lush gardens. The Beguines were widows and unmarried women who led austere lives dedicated to nursing and caring for the poor. In this peaceful courtyard we saw the oldest preserved wooden house in Amsterdam.

The temptation in the Jordaan was to sit back on a bench, ignore our itinerary and take in the sublime beauty.

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