|Written by Rosina Majid|
Slightly east of Amsterdam’s city centre is the peaceful Plantage (Plantation) area. With an oasis of nature it’s not hard to believe that the Plantage was once a green haven for the Amsterdammers of the 17th century escaping city life to enjoy some free time. Today it is still very much home to some of the city’s finest greenery and nature as can be found at the Hortus Botanicus (botanical garden) and Artis (zoo).
Already a popular tourist destination, the Plantage offers everything a person could dream of for a romantic or family getaway. You could spend hours strolling around Artis, the oldest zoo in the Netherlands, while getting up, close and personal with over 900 species of animals that live there. Boasting an aquarium, planetarium, insectarium, as well as geological and zoological museums, Artis is the perfect place to have a guaranteed fun day out alone, with friends or loved ones.
If you are on holiday with your family and the little ones are in the mood to run around, then a trip to TunFun is a good option come rain or shine. What was once a car tunnel has been transformed into a playground for children aged 0-12 years. Just drop in and let your kids play while you, the parent(s), can retire to the lounge area and enjoy some alone time. For a bit of peace and quiet in nature why not head over to the Hortus Botanicus, one of the oldest botanical gardens in the world. Here you can soak in the beauty of all the exotic trees and plants, meditate, or simply enjoy a spot of lunch or tea in their biological cafe.
But what trip to Amsterdam would be complete without a bit of history and culture? The Plantage is also home to the old Jewish Quarter, where several monuments stand honouring Jewish heritage. Among them is the Joods Historisch Museum (Jewish Historical Museum), the only modern museum in the Netherlands dedicated to Jewish history, culture and religion. Renovated in 2007, the museum is located in four monumental synagogues spaced out near the Waterlooplein area. Here you can muse at art, ceremonial and historical objects as well as paintings, drawings and 3D presentations. Only 5% of their affluent collection is ever on display at any one time, thus a visit back to the Joods Historisch Museum in the future will be worth the trip!
Walking further east towards the edge of the Plantage area you will find the Tropenmuseum (Museum of the Tropics). Here you can marvel at eight anthropological exhibitions and collections for many geographical areas, including South East Asia, North and Sub-Saharan Africa, Latin America and the Caribbean, among others. If you are planning on visiting the Tropenmuseum during your trip then be forewarned that they are closed on Mondays.
Though it’s clear that the Plantage offers an abundance of nature, history and culture for the hungry traveller, one should not come to this neck of Amsterdam for this alone. The Plantage is a wonderful area to take a relaxing walk while taking in the architectural and natural beauties this area has to offer. A few steps from Artis and over a bridge is the Entrepotdok, one of the areas hidden treasures. It is a charming place to sit in the sun by the water and throw back a couple of wines or beers and enjoy the stillness, as well as the odd small boat passing through the waters. You may also wish to wander in the opposite direction and explore the canals on foot, while stopping for a beverage, breakfast, lunch or dinner along the way. Cafe Koosje is a nice place for a relaxed drink or bite with the locals and has an inviting old Amsterdam feel. For something a little more upmarket, restaurant Bloem on the Entrepotdok is a wonderful option.
The Plantage is easily accessible from the city centre. It’s about a 15 minute walk from Central Station or a little less by tram, with numbers 14 (from Central Station) and 9 (from Dam Square) stopping in the area. For those wishing to stay in this area and take in some more of its tranquil vibe, there are a number of hotels or apartments available. Click here to view available accommodation in this area. Whatever you decide to do, a visit to the Plantage and its must-see sights is not to be missed!