Amsterdam is one of the multiple cities that is referred to as the “Venice of the North.” It’s one of the most suitable cities in Northern Europe to be called as the city center resembles that of Venice.
The most famous buildings in Amsterdam were constructed around seemingly never-ending canals, a common feature in many Dutch cities.
It only became a city during the early 14th century but quickly grew in importance in the following centuries. It served as a major trading center of the Hanseatic League, a medieval commercial confederation.
The glory period of the city came about during the so-called Dutch Golden Age. This was a period in the 16th and 17 centuries in which the Dutch Republic was one of the most prosperous places to live in the world.
The canals of Amsterdam were constructed in the 17th century and the city was greatly expanded in the following two centuries. Today, nearly a million people live within the city proper.
Let’s take a closer look at Amsterdam’s architectural highlights which reflect both the city’s glorious past and present.
1. Royal Palace of Amsterdam
The Royal Palace of Amsterdam is located on Dam Square and is one of the three official residences of the Dutch royal family. It wasn’t constructed for this purpose, though, because it was built to serve as the city hall of Amsterdam during the Dutch Golden Age in the 17th century.
The building was transformed into the amazing palace it is today in the early 19th century by Louis Napoleon, the brother of Napoleon Bonaparte. He was briefly King of Holand during this period in history. Today, the building is used for state visits and is a popular tourist attraction in the city.
Official website: Royal Palace of Amsterdam
The Rijksmuseum is the state museum of the Netherlands and is located in Museum Square, an area in the city full of popular museums. The museum was established in the year 1798 but it wasn’t located in Amsterdam back then but The Hague. It moved quite a few times throughout its history.
The Rijksmuseum’s collection is housed in the amazing building that was completed in 1885. The building underwent a restoration period that lasted a decade and was only completed in 2013. The most famous work in the museum is “The Night Watch” by Rembrandt van Rijn, one of the greatest Dutch artists in history.
Official website: Rijksmuseum
As the name of the Westerkerk implies, this amazing church is located in the western part of the city center of Amsterdam. It’s a Reformed Church of Dutch Protestant Calvinism and was completed between 1620 and 1631.
It incorporates Renaissance architecture and has dominated the western part of Amsterdam for nearly 4 centuries. This is mainly because of the church’s tower called the “Westertower which stands 87 meters (286 feet) above the ground below. This makes it the tallest church in the city.
Official website: Westerkerk
4. Anne Frank House
The Anne Frank House is the former residence of a Jewish girl named Anne Frank. It’s located just north of the Westerkerk near the Prinsengracht in the western part of Amsterdam. Anne Frank kept a diary while she was hiding in the rear of this building before being discovered by the nazis during World War II.
His wartime diary is one of the most gripping and emotional books ever published, especially because she didn’t survive the Holocaust. The building in Amsterdam where she hid with her family has been turned into a museum run by a nonprofit organization called the “Anne Frank Foundation.”
Official website: Anne Frank House
The Trippenhuis is an opulent Neoclassical Building that was named after the weapons traders Louis and Hendrick Trip. It was constructed between 1660 and 1662 and many references to their booming trade business were integrated into the façade of the building.
The building features the longest façade of any residence in Amsterdam upon completion and was designed to serve as a double residence. Since 1887, the building has been used as the headquarters of the Royal Netherlands Academy of Arts and Sciences (KNAW).
Official website: Trippenhuis
6. Rembrandt House
The Rembrandt House is the former residence of Dutch artist Rembrandt van Rijn (1606-1669) the Dutch master of the Baroque era. The house is located at the Jodenbreestraat, an area that was booming at the time in the 17th century.
Rembrandt lived and worked in this house between 1639 and 1656 until he was declared bankrupt due to mismanaging his money. The exterior of the house looks the same and the interior was renovated to its former glory and now serves as a house museum.
Official website: Rembrandt Huis
7. Nieuwe Kerk
The “Nieuwe Kerk” is as the name suggests a replacement for the older “Oude Kerk.” It’s located right next to the Royal Palace of Amsterdam on Dam Square. It formerly belonged to the Dutch Reformed Church parish but was transferred to the Protestant Church in the Netherlands.
The Oude Kerk is a medieval building that was completed in the 12th and 13th centuries. The Nieuwe Kerk was constructed between 1380 and 1408. The church was severely damaged by fire in the 15th century and rebuilt in the Gothic Revival style. Today, it serves as an exhibition center n the heart of the city.
Official website: Nieuwe Kerk
8. Stedelijk Museum Amsterdam
The Stedelijk Museum in Amsterdam is another famous museum in the city that is located in Museum Square. The museum was established in 1874 and a new wing and entrance were added to this 19th-century building which gives it a remarkable design.
The museum is dedicated to modern art that was created from the early 20th century to contemporary art of the 21st century. It’s one of the most popular museums in the country and welcomes hundreds of thousands of visitors every year.
Official website: Stedelijk Museum
9. NEMO Science Museum
NEMO Science Museum is a science museum located in the Oosterdokseiland neighborhood, just east of the city center of Amsterdam. The museum was established in 1923 and grew so much in the 20th century that it was moved to a remarkable building.
This incredible structure was designed by renowned architect Renzo Piano. The Italian was involved in the design of the Centre Pompidou in Paris as well. The upper floor offers panoramic views of the city and the museum features 5 floors of hands-on science exhibitions.
Official website: NEMO Science Museum
10. Royal Concertgebouw
The Royal Concertgebouw is an amazing concert hall in Amsterdam that is also located in Museum Square in the southwestern part of the city. “Concertgebouw” translates to “Concert Building” and that’s a pretty accurate description of what the building is used for.
The concert hall is renowned for its amazing acoustics which makes it one of the finest concert venues in Europe. The Neoclassical building was constructed between 1883 and 1886 and received a thorough renovation in the 1980s.
Official website: Royal Concertgebouw