Themed Tours in Amsterdam
The Jordaan is one of Amsterdam's most elegant neighbourhoods, where many of the city's more successful artists, intellectuals, and slightly older yuppies reside. Among the district's charms are tiny canals, lovely bridges, and several of the delightful, centuries-old almshouses called hofjes. People still live in the hofjes, so visitors should tread lightly. This walk can be taken at any time, though the late afternoon on a warm day would be best, to end at a canalside café. Allow between 2 and 2.5 hours. If you want to visit one of the Jordaan's lively markets, go either on a Monday morning or on Saturday.
Start: Tram 1, 2, 4, 5, 9, 13, 16, 17, 24, 25 or 26 to Centraal Station, then a 10-minute walk to Brouwersgracht.
Stroll along this lovely houseboat-lined canal and cross Lindengracht. You'll pass a bronze sculpture from 1979 of Jordaan schoolchild Kees de Jongen, a popular fictional character of Dutch writer Theo Thijssen (1879–1943). Keep going until the crossing with Willemstraat, where there's a wide view of the modern De Blauwe Burgt apartment block across the water (visitors can cross over on the Oranjebrug bridge for a close-up look). It's a good example of new architecture mixed with the old.
Turn left onto this tree-shaded street, which was once a canal. The house at nos. 28–38 hides a small cobblestone courtyard garden behind an orange door that's the entrance to the Raepenhofje, an almshouse from 1648. With any luck, the door will be open to allow a peek into the courtyard.
Turn left on Palmdwarsstraat and cross over Willemstraat (which used to be a canal known as Goudsbloemgracht) into Tweede Goudsbloemdwarsstraat. Cross over Goudsbloemstraat to Lindengracht. This street was once the Jordaan's most important canal and is now the scene of a lively Saturday street market. The 15 small houses (originally there were 19) of the pretty Suyckerhoff Hofje, at Lindengracht 149–163, were built in 1670 as a refuge for Protestant widows and for women of good moral standing and a 'tranquil character', who had been abandoned by their husbands. The door may be closed but you can generally open it during daylight hours and walk along the narrow entrance corridor to a courtyard garden filled with flowers and plants.
From Lindengracht, turn left onto Tweede Lindendwarsstraat. Nothing is left of the Carthusian monastery from 1394 that once stretched from here to Lijnbaansgracht (the monastery was destroyed in the 1570s). A playground marks the spot where its cemetery stood. At Karthuizerstraat 11-19 is a row of neck-gabled houses from 1737, named after the four seasons: Lente, Zomer, Herfst and Winter (spring, summer, autumn, winter). Next door, at nos. 69-191, is the Huyszitten-Weduwenhof, which dates from 1650 and used to shelter poor widows. Today, students live in these houses, which surround a large interior courtyard.
Hang a left on Tichelstraat to reach Egelantiersgracht. En route, you'll notice the tall spire of the Westerkerk. Named for the eglantine rose, or sweetbrier, Egelantiersgracht is one of the city's most picturesque and tranquil small canals and is lined with 17th- and 18th-century houses. This is where successful Amsterdam artisans lived in the 17th century. If the door is open, take a peek into the Andrieshofje at numbers 107-145. Cattle farmer Ivo Gerrittsszoon financed this almshouse of 36 houses, which was completed in 1617 and remodelled in 1884. A corridor decorated with Delft blue tiles leads up to a small courtyard with a manicured garden.
Turning left on Prinsengracht the walk comes back to Egelantiersgracht. The hardware store at numbers 2-6, at the corner of Prinsengracht, is a fine example of an Amsterdam School of Architecture design from 1917. Its intricate brickwork and cast-iron ornaments were influenced by Art Nouveau. To the left of the store, at number 8, a step-gabled house from 1649 is decorated with sandstone ornaments and gable stones that depict St Willibrord and a brewer.
Café 't Smalle
With its lovely terrace, this café is one of the best in the Jordaan for a drink and a typical Dutch snack of bitterballen (fried minced meat and potato balls), chunks of Gouda dipped in mustard, or homemade pea soup.
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