Netherlands // Amsterdam //

The Museum Quarter and the Vondelpark

During the nineteenth century, Amsterdam burst out of its restraining canals, gobbling up the surrounding countryside with a slew of new residential suburbs. Neither did the developers forget to impress for it was here in the 1880s, on the southern edge of the city centre, that Petrus Josephus Hubertus Cuypers, the creator of Centraal Station, built the city’s Rijksmuseum, an imposing edifice designed in an inventive and especially attractive historic style. No mistake, the museum possesses one of the most comprehensive collections of Dutch paintings in the world and although it is in the throes of an extraordinarily long-winded revamp, the kernel of the collection – Dutch paintings from Amsterdam’s seventeenth-century Golden Age – is still on display in the Philips Wing, the only part of the museum to remain open during the refurbishment, which is supposed to be completed in 2013. Equally enticing is the neighbouring Van Gogh Museum, which boasts the most satisfying collection of van Gogh paintings in the world, with important works representative of all his artistic periods. Taken together, the two museums form one of Amsterdam’s biggest draws – and they are supplemented by the modern and contemporary art of the newly reopened Stedelijk Museum. From the Stedelijk Museum, it’s a brief walk northwest along van Baerlestraat to the sprawling greenery of the Vondelpark, Amsterdam’s loveliest park. As an alcoholic counterblast to all this culture, the area is also home to the Heineken Experience – a hoppy hop round the old brewery with tasting included.

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