Spui square in Amsterdam (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
Marxist students demanding to participate in decision making, long, white-bearded men thumbing books aged over three hundred centuries, Catholic orphans in mended aprons arriving home after performing their daily tasks and bleached-haired teenage fashion victims hurrying for the latest bargains. And the heart of the ‘happenings’ of the non-violent anarchistic movement, the provo’s (‘the provocators’) around the statue of a street boy ‘het Lieverdje’ (the darling) in the sixties. In whatever epoch they were living, they all shared the same destination: Spui, once a water, nowadays both a square and street in the centre of Amsterdam.
Sherazade and a rare Charles Bukowski
Whatever you are up to, Spui offers a wide range of activities as both high and low brow culture peacefully coexist at Spui sqare. Admire sensual images of Arabic women inspired on the Tales of 1001 nights and a dreamy, passive Snow white as a Western counter-image in a video-installation at Arti et Amicitae, a society of visual artists situated in an outstanding Berlage building at Rokin 112. For current exhibitions check www.arti.nl/index.php. Or, if for an eternity you have been trying to spot a rare edition of a Bukowski novel, you may find yourself rewarded and stumble across one at the antique and second hand book market, which takes place every Friday on Spui. Or if you simply desire to score the latest Adidas, a mere 100 meters distance from Spui, Kalverstreet hosts all main fashion stores from H&M to Zara.
Unexpected oasis at Begijnhof
Like any other spot in the centre of Amsterdam, Spui is rich in ancient buildings and history. Particularly special is the Begijnhof (beguinage), one of the oldest inner courts of Amsterdam, surrounded by old buildings such as a wooden house and a church. As a student in Amsterdam Center, I often found myself chilling at this unexpected oasis next to the Spui. Close to the Begijnhof, in the Sint Luciënsteeg 27, you can experience Amsterdam history at the Amsterdam museum. In the museum you can see the poverty of the Jordaan area in the 19th century for example, nowadays one of the city’s most popular areas in which to live. Lively painted scenes on Sicilian wedding vessels are exhibited at the Allard Pierson, another museum close by the Spui, at Oude Turfmarkt 127. These types of utensils and art-objects give a good picture of everyday life in ancient civilisations like the Roman empire and the Near-East. A must see is also the Maagdenhuis (Virgins house), an imposing building at Spui 21. For centuries the home of female orphans, it currently is the administrative heart of the University of Amsterdam, and since the sixties has often been occupied by students struggling for a change.
Off the beaten track
Obviously at Spui there are many places that will cater your stomach, sip delightful coffee or get something stronger. However, it’s worth while to enter into the alleys surrounding Spui to experience a more local life during your stay in Amsterdam. Do like a local student and get a cheap meal at Café de Schutter (Café the Civic Guard) at Voetboogstraat 13. In beer café Gollem, situated in a centuries old liquor distillery at Raamsteeg 4, you’ll surely find a beer of your taste. Some of the 200 beers the café offers are even exclusive. If you wanna stay in student atmospheres, check ‘Dansen bij Jansen’ at Handboogstraat 11, thé student disco, because of its cheap beers, with various musical styles, although all on the safe side: pop, house and disco. As a 17 year old schoolgirl I went out here for the first time dancing.
Check out the list below to see what’s on at Spui when you are enjoying your stay in Amsterdam with Amsterdamstay.com:
Book market with second hand books and antiques.
Every Sunday from March to December
Art market, local artists exhibit their works, which are also for sale.
Prices vary from a few euro to several 1000 euro.
Stille omgang | www.stille-omgang.nl
The Stille omgang is an annual procession in the historical centre of Amsterdam which starts and ends at Spui. Pilgrims have been participating in this silent procession for centuries which celebrates the ‘Miracle of the Host’ an occurrence where a dying man vomited after being given the Holy Sacrament. The host (Holy Sacrament) was then thrown on to a fire but miraculously survived intact.
Apartments from Amsterdam Stay located in and around Spui.
Posted by Janet Jonker (Copywriter Freelancer)