|Written by Rosina Majid|
Museumplein (Museum Square)
This square, located south of Leidseplein, is like a little piece of heaven for anyone who loves art and culture. Aptly named Museumplein, this square is home to three of Amsterdam’s major tourist attraction: the Rijks, Van Gogh and Stedelijk museums. The museum quarter went under major renovations in 1999 and emerged the other side completed with an underground parking lot and a supermarket catering for modern day needs. Sectioning off the square is a huge stretch of grass that extends from the Rijks Museum to the Concertgebouw (Concert Building), and features a skateboard park for the adventurous kind, and a children’s wading pool which transforms into an ice rink during the winter. Following its renovation, Museumplein has blossomed into one of several popular places to visit in Amsterdam for tourists and locals alike.
Museumplein offers so much more than just, museums, but that is as good a place as any to start when visiting this grand square. The Rijks Museum is dedicated to all things related to arts, crafts and history, and is the proud home to a selection of Asian arts, paintings from the Dutch Golden Age, as well as collections from the likes of Johannes Vermeer and Rembrandt. A section of this museum has undergone major reconstruction and its highly anticipated reopening is planned for 2013. Exhibiting modern/contemporary art and design, the Stedelijk Museum recently reopened its doors to the public following major reconstruction. Here art lovers can bask at the collection of works of greats such as Vincent Van Gogh, Jackson Pollack and Andy Warhol.
If music is your passion then a visit to Concertgebouw is not to be missed! This magnificent building is considered one of the finest concert halls in the world, and it’s all down to mind-blowing acoustics that will excite every listening ear. Ranking alongside Boston’s Symphony Hall, Concertgebouw currently hosts around 900 concerts each year, welcoming over 800,000 visitors. If you are a music lover, but can’t obtain or afford a concert ticket, then have no fear, as for the price of a good lunch you can enjoy a free classical concert at this venue.
Popularly referred to as ‘that square with the large I Amsterdam letters’ Museumplein is not only just the place to take 'the' perfect photo of your trip. The neighbourhood is also a cultural centre offering a selection of places to shop to your heart’s content, get pampered at one of the beauty salons, and then rest for a drink and a bite to eat. The square is in walking distance from the exclusive P.C. Hooftstraat, a thoroughfare lined with top fashion brands and chic couture houses. While you may feel the pinch of your wallet on this street, it’s certainly worth a walk down in your sunglasses, and if you feel daring, then drop into one of the fine boutiques or cafes. While on the topic of food and drink, the House of Bols is also located in the Museum Quarter, where you can take a self-guided tour through the Hall of Taste, the World of Cocktails and the Genever Room. Finish your tour off at the Mirror Bar where you can sit back sipping on a cocktail made especially for you.
If you are the sporty type, and a few rounds on the ice rink or skateboard park doesn’t quite quench your thirst, then perhaps Zuiderbad is the ticket for you. Located on Hobbemakade (opposite Rijksmuseum) is this historic swimming pool, built in 1897, and still has its original bath floor still in tact. Be sure to check their schedule before visiting to avoid disappointment!
Whatever your reason for visiting Amsterdam, it goes without saying that Museumplein should always be kept on your radar. Not only is it the number-one tourist hotspot in Amsterdam, but the space is also regularly used for mass events taking place in the city. Major festivals like Uitmarkt have been located on the square, while national celebrations such as Koninginnedag (Queen’s Day) on April 30, and New Year’s Eve are commemorated here, attracting thousands of Dutch from near and far. With this is mind, it’s best to plan your trip accordingly so that you don’t miss out on all the attractions the square has to offer.
Located on the busy Van Baerlestraat, between Oud West and the Pijp, Museumplein and its neighbouring streets offer many hotels and apartments suitable for a wide budget range. Take a look here to find accommodation that meet your needs.
Museumplein is frequented by tram numbers 2, 5 and 16.