Top historic sites in Amsterdam

Royal Palace of Amsterdam

The Royal Palace is one of three palaces in the Netherlands which are at the disposal of the monarch by Act of Parliament. The palace was built as the Town Hall of the City of Amsterdam and was opened as such on 29 July 1655 by Cornelis de Graeff, the political and social leader of Amsterdam. It is now called as the royal palace and used by the monarch for entertaining and official functions during state visits and other ...
Founded: 1655 | Location: Amsterdam, Netherlands

Nieuwe Kerk

After the Oude Kerk ('Old Church') grew too small for the expanding population of the town, the bishop of Utrecht in 1408 gave permission to build a second parish church in Amsterdam. The Nieuwe Kerk ('new church') was consecrated to St. Mary and St. Catharine. The church was damaged by the city fires of 1421 and 1452 and burned down almost entirely in 1645, after which it was rebuilt in Gothic style. ...
Founded: 1408 | Location: Amsterdam, Netherlands

Rijksmuseum

The Rijksmuseum is a Dutch national museum dedicated to arts and history in Amsterdam. The museum has on display 8,000 objects of art and history, from their total collection of 1 million objects from the years 1200–2000. The collection contains more than 2,000 paintings from the Dutch Golden Age by notable painters such as Jacob Isaakszoon van Ruisdael, Frans Hals, Johannes Vermeer, Jan Steen, Rembrandt, and Rembra ...
Founded: 1800 | Location: Amsterdam, Netherlands

Oude Kerk

The Oude Kerk ('old church') is Amsterdam’s oldest building, founded ca. 1213. Over time, this structure was replaced by a stone church that was consecrated in 1306 by the bishop of Utrecht with Saint Nicolas as its patron saint. The church stood for only a half-century before the first alterations were made; the aisles were lengthened and wrapped around the choir in a half circle to support the structure. Not long ...
Founded: 1213 | Location: Amsterdam, Netherlands

Van Gogh Museum

Amsterdam Van Gogh Museum maintains the world’s largest collection of the works of the world’s most popular artist - Vincent van Gogh (1853-1890), his paintings, drawings and letters, completed with the art of his contemporaries. Each year, 1.6 million visitors come to the Van Gogh Museum, making it one of the 25 most popular museums in the world. The collection features the works of Vincent van Gogh – ...
Founded: | Location: Amsterdam, Netherlands

Stedelijk Museum

The Stedelijk Museum Amsterdam is a museum for modern art, contemporary art and design. The 19th century building was designed by Adriaan Willem Weissman and the 21st century wing with the current entrance was designed by Benthem Crouwel Architects. The collection comprises modern and contemporary art and design from the early 20th century up to the 21st century. It features artists such as Vincent van Gogh, Wassily Kand ...
Founded: 1874 | Location: Amsterdam, Netherlands

Basilica of St. Nicholas

The Basilica of St. Nicholas is the major Catholic church in Amsterdam. Officially the church was called St. Nicholas inside the Walls, i.e. the oldest part of the Amsterdam defence works. The architect, Adrianus Bleijs (1842-1912) designed the church basing himself on a combination of several revival styles of which Neo-Baroque and neo-Renaissance are the most prominent models. The facade is crowned by two towers with a ...
Founded: 1884-1887 | Location: Amsterdam, Netherlands

Anne Frank House

The Anne Frank House is a museum dedicated to Jewish wartime diarist Anne Frank, who hid from Nazi persecution with her family and four other people in hidden rooms at the rear of the building. As well as the preservation of the hiding place — known in Dutch as the Achterhuis — and an exhibition on the life and times of Anne Frank, the museum acts as an exhibition space to highlight all forms of persecution an ...
Founded: 1960 | Location: Amsterdam, Netherlands

English Reformed Church

The English Reformed Church is one of the oldest buildings in Amsterdam. It is home to an English-speaking congregation which is affiliated to the Church of Scotland and to the Protestant Church in the Netherlands. The Begijnhof, an enclosed courtyard, was a 14th-century residence for the sisterhood of the Catholic Beguines, and the church was originally established as their chapel. It was confiscated from the Catholic la ...
Founded: 14th century | Location: Amsterdam, Netherlands

Westerkerk

Westerkerk ('Western church') was one of the first purposely built Protestant churches. Today the Westerkerk remains the largest church in the Netherlands that was built for Protestants. In was built in 1620-1631 after a design by the late Renaissance architect Hendrick de Keyser in the Dutch Renaissance style and in the form of a patriarchal cross. The spire, called the Westertoren ('Western tower'), ...
Founded: 1620-1631 | Location: Amsterdam, Netherlands

Waag

The Waag ('weigh house') was originally a city gate and part of the walls of Amsterdam. It is the oldest remaining non-religious building in Amsterdam. The gate, called as Sint Antoniespoort (Saint Anthony"s Gate), was part of the medieval city walls along the moat formed by the current Singel canal and the canals of the Kloveniersburgwal and the Geldersekade. These walls were constructed during the period ...
Founded: 1481–1494 | Location: Amsterdam, Netherlands

Munttoren

The Munttoren ('Coin Tower') was originally part of the Regulierspoort, one of the main gates in Amsterdam"s medieval city wall. The gate, built in the years 1480, consisted of two towers and a guard house. The name of the tower refers to the fact that it was used to mint coins in the 17th century. After the gate went up in flames in a 1618 fire, only the guard house and part of the western tower remained ...
Founded: 1620 | Location: Amsterdam, Netherlands

Zuiderkerk

The Zuiderkerk ('southern church') was the city"s first church built specifically for Protestant services. It was constructed between 1603 and 1611. The distinctive church tower, which dominates the surrounding area, was not completed until 1614 and contains a carillon of bells built by the brothers Hemony, installed in 1656. The Zuiderkerk was used for church services until 1929. During the final (1944-19 ...
Founded: 1603-1611 | Location: Amsterdam, Netherlands

Rembrandt House Museum

The Rembrandt House Museum is a house in the Jodenbreestraat, where Rembrandt lived and painted for a number of years. A few years ago the house was thoroughly reconstructed on the inside to show how the house would have looked in Rembrandt"s days. Adjoining (and linked to) the house is a modern building where work of Rembrandt is on display, mainly etchings and also a part of his collection of objects from all over ...
Founded: 1911 | Location: Amsterdam, Netherlands

Canal Ring of Amsterdam

Built during the Golden Age of the 17th century, Amsterdam’s Canal Ring, known locally as the Grachtengordel, is comprised of a network of intersecting waterways. These were developed through the drainage and reclamation of land for new development. Yet what was initially a practical feature, allowing the city to grow beyond its fortified boundaries, subsequently evolved into the area’s characteristic gabled canal-sid ...
Founded: 17th century | Location: Amsterdam, Netherlands

Hermitage Amsterdam

The Hermitage Amsterdam is the Dutch branch of the world-famous Hermitage in Saint Petersburg, Russia. The Hermitage Amsterdam is an exhibition space and cultural education centre with a focus on Russian history and culture. It displays rotating selections of pieces from the Hermitage collection in Russia. These include paintings, graphic works, sculptures, applied art and archaeological discoveries. Hermitage Amsterdam h ...
Founded: | Location: Amsterdam, Netherlands

Dutch Resistance Museum

The Dutch Resistance Museum (Verzetsmuseum) tells the story of the Dutch people in World War II. From 14 May 1940 to 5 May 1945, the Netherlands were occupied by Nazi Germany. The permanent exhibition recreates the atmosphere of the streets of Amsterdam during the German occupation of the World War II. Big photographs, old posters, objects, films and sounds from that horrible time, help to recreate the scene. The backgrou ...
Founded: | Location: Amsterdam, Netherlands

Noorderkerk

The Noorderkerk ('northern church') was built between 1620–1623 to serve the rapidly growing population of the new Jordaan neighbourhood. The Jordaan already had a church, the Westerkerk, but the city government decided that a second church should be built to serve the northern part of the neighbourhood. The Noorderkerk became the church for the common people, while the Westerkerk was used mainly by the mi ...
Founded: 1620-1623 | Location: Amsterdam, Netherlands

Muiderslot

The Muiderslot is one of the better known castles in the Netherlands and has been featured in many television shows set in the Middle Ages. The history of castle begins with Count Floris V who built a stone castle at the mouth of the river back in 1280, when he gained command over an area that used to be part of the See of Utrecht. The River Vecht was the trade route to Utrecht, one of the most important trade towns of th ...
Founded: 1370 | Location: Muiden, Netherlands

Featured Historic Landmarks, Sites & Buildings

Historic Site of the week

Porta Nigra

The Porta Nigra (Latin for black gate) is the largest Roman city gate north of the Alps. It is designated as part of the Roman Monuments, Cathedral of St. Peter and Church of Our Lady in Trier UNESCO World Heritage Site. The name Porta Nigra originated in the Middle Ages due to the darkened colour of its stone; the original Roman name has not been preserved. Locals commonly refer to the Porta Nigra simply as Porta.

The Porta Nigra was built in grey sandstone between 186 and 200 AD. The original gate consisted of two four-storied towers, projecting as near semicircles on the outer side. A narrow courtyard separated the two gate openings on either side. For unknown reasons, however, the construction of the gate remained unfinished. For example, the stones at the northern (outer) side of the gate were never abraded, and the protruding stones would have made it impossible to install movable gates. Nonetheless, the gate was used for several centuries until the end of the Roman era in Trier.

In Roman times, the Porta Nigra was part of a system of four city gates, one of which stood at each side of the roughly rectangular Roman city. The Porta Nigra guarded the northern entry to the Roman city, while the Porta Alba (White Gate) was built in the east, the Porta Media (Middle Gate) in the south, and the Porta Inclyta (Famous Gate) in the west, next to the Roman bridge across the Moselle. The gates stood at the ends of the two main streets of the Roman Trier, one of which led north-south and the other east-west. Of these gates, only the Porta Nigra still exists today.

In the early Middle Ages the Roman city gates were no longer used for their original function and their stones were taken and reused for other buildings. Also iron and lead braces were broken out of the walls of the Porta Nigra for reuse. Traces of this destruction are still clearly visible on the north side of the gate.

After 1028, the Greek monk Simeon lived as a hermit in the ruins of the Porta Nigra. After his death (1035) and sanctification, the Simeonstift monastery was built next to the Porta Nigra to honor him. Saving it from further destruction, the Porta Nigra was transformed into a church: The inner court of the gate was roofed and intermediate ceilings were inserted. The two middle storeys of the former gate were converted into church naves: the upper storey being for the monks and the lower storey for the general public. The ground floor with the large gates was sealed, and a large outside staircase was constructed alongside the south side (the town side) of the gate, up to the lower storey of the church. A small staircase led further up to the upper storey. The church rooms were accessible through former windows of the western tower of the Porta Nigra that were enlarged to become entrance doors (still visible today). The top floor of the western tower was used as church tower, the eastern tower was leveled, and an apse added at its east side. An additional gate - the much smaller Simeon Gate - was built adjacent to the East side of the Porta Nigra and served as a city gate in medieval times.

In 1802 Napoleon Bonaparte dissolved the church in the Porta Nigra and the monastery beside it, along with the vast majority of Trier"s numerous churches and monasteries. On his visit to Trier in 1804, Napoleon ordered that the Porta Nigra be converted back to its Roman form. Only the apse was kept; but the eastern tower was not rebuilt to its original height. Local legend has it that Napoleon originally wanted to completely tear down the church, but locals convinced him that the church had actually been a Gaulish festival hall before being turned into a church. Another version of the story is that they told him about its Roman origins, persuading him to convert the gate back to its original form.

In 1986 the Porta Nigra was designated a World Heritage Site, along with other Roman monuments in Trier and its surroundings. The modern appearance of the Porta Nigra goes back almost unchanged to the reconstruction ordered by Napoleon. At the south side of the Porta Nigra, remains of Roman columns line the last 100 m of the street leading to the gate. Positioned where they had stood in Roman times, they give a slight impression of the aspect of the original Roman street that was lined with colonnades. The Porta Nigra, including the upper floors, is open to visitors.