The architectural marvels of Amsterdam
Amsterdam has always been innovative when it comes to engineering and building. From the very beginning the Dutch have been retaking the land from the sea, thus proving how original and effective their engineering mind can be. Nowadays, they show us that The Netherlands, and Amsterdam in particular, are still rich in original ideas. So even when it seems you’ve seen everything, from canal houses to smoky coffee shops, Amsterdam still has something to surprise you with. Be sure to visit these unusual architectural sights of Amsterdam, especially if you’re an arts fan. Our list of the most curious buildings in the Dutch capital will help you plan your sightseeing tour.
The most stunning buildings in Amsterdam
Central Library (Openbare Bibliotheek). Oosterdokskade 143, 1011
The Openbare Bibliotheek is more than just a library. It’s a true source of inspiration and amusement for everyone interested in modern architecture. The €80 million project by Jo Coenen (who’s also worked on the KNSM Island) includes a special fresh air distribution system, 1200 seats, and even a parking facility for 2000 bicycles. Named the best library of the Netherlands (by the OBA), the Openbare Bibliotheek demonstrates lots of light, comfort, modernist decorations and high technology. There are 25 kms of bookshelves with all kinds of books to choose from, but the library offers more than that. Restaurants, a 270-seat theatre, cafes, 500 computer terminals, CDs, DVDs, newspapers from all over the world, great waterside views… Oh, and it’s also the largest library in the Netherlands. Hotels near the Openbare Bibliotheek:
- Doubletree by Hilton Hotel Amsterdam Centraal Station 4*
Scheepvaarthuis. Prins Hendrikkade 108, 1011 AK
Scheepvaarthuis (or the Shipping House) could be the true symbol of Amsterdam, at least when it comes to architecture. As a perfect example of the Amsterdam School, it’s a must-see attraction for you, architecture fanatics. Built in 1912-1916, the building served as the headquarters for the city’s best known shipping companies. What makes it so stunning is its impressive staircase, accompanied by the stained glass roof and interior decorations by Kramer, Krop and De Klerk. Nowadays the building houses one of the city’s most celebrated hotels, Grand Hotel Amrath. So you can not just look at the Scheepvaarthuis from outside, but also sleep inside this stunning building. Hotels near the Scheepvaarthuis:
- Grand Hotel Amrath Amsterdam 5* (right inside the building)
- Doubletree by Hilton Hotel Amsterdam Centraal Station 4*
Het Schip. Spaarndammerplantsoen 140, 1013 XT
If your heart is conquered by the Amsterdam School, we suggest you getting further acquainted with this beautiful architecture at the Museum Het Schip. This is in fact one of the most important (if not to say the principal) examples of the style, and a masterpiece of its main patron, architect Michel de Klerk. Like most of the Amsterdam School buildings, Het Schip is built of red brick and is distinguished by its unusual layout, iron and glass details. It was erected for Social Housing purposes and includes 102 homes for the working class, a meeting hall and a post office, which nowadays serves as the Amsterdam School Museum. Despite the remote location, Het Schip is something that you really have to see.
Hotels near Het Schip:
- WestCord Art Hotel Amsterdam 4*
ARCAM. Prins Hendrikkade 600, 1011 VX
For everyone whose interest in modern architecture goes beyond idle curiosity, there is no better place than ARCAM, the Amsterdam Centre for Architecture. This impressive futuristic-looking building on the IJ waterfront is your source of knowledge about everything connected with the subject. The building was constructed in 1986 to bring knowledge about the best projects and future city development to the public. Nowadays it hosts themed exhibitions and provides visitors with books, brochures, magazines and other materials about the architecture of Amsterdam. Head straight to ARCAM to find more information about the most interesting buildings in the city, or browse among its white sleek walls and glass structure to get a feel of the future. Building design: Rene van Zuuk.
Hotels near ARCAM:
- Moevenpick Hotel Amsterdam City Centre 4*
- Grand Hotel Amrath Amsterdam 5*
Opstandingskerk. Bos en Lommerplein 325
It’s hard to believe it from the first sight, but the Opstandingskerk in Bos en Lommer (the immigrant-populated neighbourhood west of Amsterdam centre) is in fact a church. The red brick building with high windows and a 48-meter beveled tower is impressive, but pretty awkward-looking. The locals call it the Coal Scuttle (or the coal bucket, to make it simpler). Inside, it’s all white and minimalistic, but pretty serene, tranquil and inspiring. And isn’t that what you want from a church in the first place?
Hotels near the Opstandingskerk:
Oude Kerk. Oudekerksplein 23
The Amsterdam churches are the subject that deserves a separate article. And this church stands out among all of them, because it’s in fact one of the oldest buildings in Amsterdam. The gothic Oude Kerk church dates back to as early as the 13th century. One interesting fact about the building is that at some point the rich locals were buried right under its floor. They say that the smell was so acrid some parishioners couldn’t stand it and just left the building. Nowadays the church displays many historic curiosities such as the old stone slabs, the antique organ and beautiful carved seats. The Oude Kerk is located right in the heart of De Wallen, the famed Red Light District. Quite an unusual neighbourhood, isn’t it? It’s also here that the famous World Press Photo exhibition is organized every year.
Hotels near the Oude Kerk:
Sint-Josephkerk. Erik de Roodestraat 14
Another Amsterdam church, the Sint-Josephkerk (St. Joseph Church) is located in the Bos en Lommer neighbourhood and looks pretty crazy. It seems that someone just played with giant blocks of concrete here, or placed huge tables on one another. Actually, it used to be a church in the past, but was to be demolished due to the lack of visitors. But the building had some admirers, apparently, for its still there. Nowadays it serves as a mountain club, so if you’re a fan of rock-climbing and aren’t too devout, you can even climb the church walls.
Hotels near the Sint-Josephkerk:
- Best Western Blue Tower Hotel 4*
- Best Western Blue Square Hotel 4*
- Hotel Nieuw Slotania 3*
De Waag. Nieuwmarkt 4
For some, De Waag might look like a Disneyland Castle. Or just like some European medieval castle standing in the very heart of Amsterdam. The 15th century building used to be the city gate and formed a part of the city wall. The name, De Waag, is translated as the “weigh house” and reflects the building’s former function. Apart from that, it also served as a fire station, a museum and even an anatomic hall. Historians say you can even see its walls in one of Rembrandt’s paintings (called “The Anatomy Lesson of Dr. Nicolaes Tulp”). Nowadays the building houses a cool restaurant and a cultural organization office. De Waag, the oldest non-religious building in Amsterdam, is in a pretty bad condition. Let us hope the restorers will do their work thoroughly and carefully.
Hotels near De Waag:
- NH Grand Hotel Krasnapolsky 5*