Amsterdam Vacations

Amsterdam Vacations


HEINEKEN EXPERIENCE. Beer is not made in the Heineken Brewery but plenty is served. The factory stopped producing here in 1988 and has turned the place into an amusement park devoted to their green-bottled beer. In the Experience, visitors guide themselves past holograms, virtual reality machines, and other multi-media treats. A visit includes three beers and a souvenir glass. (Heinekenpl. 523 96 66; Open Su, Tu-Sa 10am-6pm; last entry at 5pm. Under-18 must be accompanied by a parent. ‚7.50.)

PORTUGEES-ISRAELIETISCHE SYNAGOGE. This beautifully maintained Portuguese synagogue dates to 1675, when it was founded by Jews fleeing the Spanish Inquisition. Since then, it has remained largely unchanged and still holds services. (Mr. Visserpl. 1-3. 624 53 51; Open Apr.-Oct. M-F and Su 10am-4pm; Nov.-Mar. M-Th and Su 10am-4pm, F 10am-3pm. ‚5, under-15 ‚4.)

HOLLANDSCHE SCHOUWBURG. This historic building stands today as one of the region’s most enduring symbols of freedom, a moving testament to Dutch life before, during, and after Hitler. Hollandsche Schouwburg was founded as a Dutch theater on the edge of the old Jewish quarter. It later underwent a metamorphosis in 1941, when Nazi occupiers converted it into the Joodsche Schouwburg, the city’s sole establishment to which Jewish performers and Jewish patrons were granted access. Not long after, the building was changed into an assembly point for Dutch Jews who were to be deported to transit camps in the north. Now Hollandsche Schouwburg houses a memorial to Holocaust victims. (Plantage Middeniaan 24. s626 99 45; Open daily 11am-4pm; closed on Yom Kippur. Free.)

HORTUS BOTANICUS. With over 6000 species of plants, Hortus, founded in 1638, is one of the oldest gardens of its kind in the world and a refuge for a number of near-extinct plants. It was originally established as Hortus Medi-cus, a medicinal garden for the town’s physicians. Many of its more exceptional specimens, including a coffee plant whose clippings spawned the Brazilian coffee empire, were gathered by members of the Dutch East India Company. (Plantage Middeniaan 2A. s638 16 70; Open Apr.-Oct. M-F 9am-5pm, Sa-Su llam-5pm; Dec.-Mar. M-F 9am-4pm, Sa-Su llam-4pm. ‚6, children and seniors ‚3. Guided tours Su 2pm ‚1.)

DE PUP. De Pijp (pronounced pipe) is a work in progress, a gentrification project occurring in a neighborhood once known for its immigrant authenticity citizens from Indonesia, Kurdistan, Morocco, Surinam, and Turkey all live here with would-be bohemians. The neighborhood is now ballooning in popularity as new high-design restaurants and bars get written up in socialite magazines and attract slim fashionistas with the promise of the next big thing. Most of De Pijp is best experienced by wandering around its skinny streets and popping into its cheap, low-end restaurants and shops. The best place to start is amid the crowded, bustling din of the Albert Cuypmarkt, a vibrant market and home to some of the best budget-eatery deals in the city the market is along Albert Cuypstr. between Ferdinand Bolstraat (the district’s largest thoroughfare) and Van Woustr.

SARPH ATI PARK. A short stroll from the Heineken Experience will take you to the lovely, diminutive Sarphatipark, named for the Doctor Samuel Sarphati, a philanthropist who instituted a series of public works programs in the 19th century. Smack in the center of De Pijp, the Sarphatipark is a pleasant stretch of green criss-crossed by a series of paths and a sinuous pond. The park and areas to the south are safe enough by day but should be approached with caution after dark. (At the comer of Sarphatipark and le Swelinckstr.)

ARCAM (ARCHITECTURE CENTER AMSTERDAM). Staffed by professionals with training in design, ARCAM is a fantastic resource for finding out all you could possibly want to know about Amsterdam’s vibrant architecture scene. While the center is not really a museum, it hosts a number of changing exhibitions that provide guests and residents of the city with some insight into what’s behind (and inside) Amsterdam’s newest and oldest structures. ARCAM also sells a detailed architectural map of the city. (Oosterdok 14. 620 48 78; Open Tu-Sa l-5pm; closed on bank holidays. Free.)

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