|Written by Rosina Majid|
Nieuwmarkt (Photo credit: intergirl)
Nieuwmarkt (New Market)
Bordering Chinatown and De Wallen (Red Light District) is the popular and lively square known as Nieuwmarkt (New Market). Just a few minutes walk in either direction from Central Station, Dam Square and Waterlooplein, Nieuwmarkt is one of Amsterdam’s happening areas, with an ever-exciting nightlife and intriguing history. Lined with quaint cafes, restaurants and coffeeshops, Nieuwmarkt stays true to its name by hosting a daily market on the square. Here you can expect to find organic produce sold on Saturdays, while on Sundays antiques and books are for sale during the summer months.
It’s not hard to miss this square with the iconic Waag building dominating the view. This majestic landmark has been standing tall since the 17th century and has held many functions over the years from Weigh House to Jewish Historical Museum. The Waag stands where one of the gates to the city wall, known as Saint Anthony’s Gate, once stood. The gate that formed part of the medieval city wall was converted into the Waag building, which today opens its ground floor to the public as Cafe In de Waag. Nieuwmarkt itself was created in 1614 when the canals surrounding the Waag were filled, following which the square was quickly utilised as a marketplace.
The Nieuwmarkt square is as rich in history as it is in culture. Sadly during World War II, the square was used by the Nazi’s as a collection point for all the Jews rounded up from the Amsterdam area, and were held there before being sent to concentration camps. In 1970, some of Nieuwmarkt's history was lost when many buildings in the area were torn down to make way for a Metro (subway) system and a highway. It was thanks to heavy voting and the rallying of local Amsterdammer’s in 1975 that the highway plans were abandoned and the present-day social hotspot was saved.
Also known as the old city centre, Nieuwmarkt is one of the go-to places for many locals on any day or night of the week. For locals or tourists alike, the area’s biggest attraction is the many cafes and restaurants in the neighbourhood. Zeedijk is a bustling street, which trails from the area right back towards Amsterdam’s Central Station, and is packed with Chinese, Japanese and Thai restaurants. The Chinese restaurant Nam Kee is a favourite among locals, with house specialities like Steamed Oysters in Black Bean Sauce and Peking Duck that will ensure your speedy return. Whether you visit Nam Kee or not, this street is definitely worth a leisurely walk down to take in all the Asian sights. Around the midway point stands a stunning Buddhist temple resembling a traditional Chinese palace and is hard to miss on an Amsterdam street.
As Nieuwmarkt sits in Amsterdam's Chinatown, it is also the site where the Chinese in the area gather to commemorate their annual New Year celebrations. The square comes to life with stage performances and Asian food stalls to name a few.
Back on the lively square there are also several restaurants and cafes that will cater for the worldly appetite. A popular eatery is Cafe Bern, offering a cosy space for customers to enjoy their famed cheese or meat fondue. Its neighbouring Cafe Cuba is a Latin style bar perfect for the odd drink or two. The list of bars and brown cafes in this area is long, and while each exude their own distinct atmosphere, the best thing you can do on a hot, cold or rainy day, is to walk in and find that perfect spot for you.
Other sights in the area include the Bethany Convent in the Red Light District, which was built in 1462 for local women wishing to repent their sins to join. Presently, the historic convent is referred to as Bethanien Klooster and holds world-class concerts for music lovers on a daily/weekly basis.
As a central location in perfect walking distance from several other popular areas in Amsterdam, Nieuwmarkt offers its fair share of accommodation for travelers passing through. Please click here for a list of hotels and apartments in the area to find one that suit your needs.
To reach Nieuwmarkt by public transport, take Metro lines 51, 53 and 54, which run at regular intervals to Nieuwemarkt from both Amsterdam Central Station and Waterlooplein. Tickets can be purchased from a ticket machine at the Metro station.