Recently I read a news about an Amsterdam Airbnb host pushed a South African down the stairs and then the video has gone viral. I couldn’t believe that happened, probably a rare case because it was not the Amsterdam that I remembered.
I remembered that the center of Amsterdam was packed with tourists and filled with excitement when I was there. The entire city center was like a party. In between the canals, historic buildings, and artistic vibe, every taboo was out in the open and it could be an “Eye Wide Shut” experience for some. The Red Light District, which is locally and internationally significant as one of the oldest venues of visible and legal urban prostitution, was right outside the Amsterdam Central. Sex was in the air. The district embraces the historic Oude Church, while sex shops, bars, and brothels, lined up right along the canals and streets. I saw prostitutes flaunting in front of the window and luring young men to enter; a visit to a sex toy store wasn’t such a secretive and embarrassing thing. It felt free, even liberating.
There might be a lot of sex museums in the world but don’t miss the Sexmuseum Amsterdam. It was opened in 1985 and it is one of the most visited museums in the city. I think the museum is a celebration of the city’s openness but showcasing a lot, and really, a lot of sex. I took a lot of photos but decided not to show them here or I might turn my blog into a porn site. But well, treat the exhibit with a good sense of humor, and a great respect for history, and sex.
I was exploring the city on foot that day and I had a great time. Places like the Rijksmuseum and van Gogh Museums were definitely eye-opening and impressive. The Rijksmuseum is the biggest museum in the country with more than 1 million objects in its collections – mainly paintings from the Dutch “Golden Age” in the 17th century. Big names include Johannes Vermeer, Rembrandt van Rijn, Frans Hals, and more. Their paintings, in fact, could be found in almost every major classical art museums in the world. The architecture of the museum was impressive; it was designed by Pierre Cuypers and officially opened to art lovers in 1885. Now, the building was not only a landmark of art but also a landmark of the “I AMsterdam” brand. During the holidays, both locals and visitors could enjoy all kinds of “Amsterdam excitement” starting their day rolling on the lawn in the Museum square, enjoying the park or the wading pool under warm and glorious sunshine. (For more about my favorite classical art galleries in the world, visit My Top 10 Classical Art Galleries (1))
While I was walking, I saw an orchestra performing in a courtyard and their music was so uplifting and I just sat there and enjoyed it for half an hour.
Why do buildings in Amsterdam Lean?
You may know why the houses in Amsterdam are narrow – it was because the Dutch authorities levied taxes from citizens based on the width of their houses back in the 16th century.
You might wonder why the buildings in Amsterdam look crooked and lean. At first if felt like you have sea sick while it was actually a solution to a problem. The buildings are built leaning forward on purpose. It was practical because old buildings typically have a narrow and steep stairway that makes moving in furniture a challenge. Therefore, furniture is usually brought into the house pulling up from outside, with the help of hooks and wheels that placed under the roofs. It helped to prevent the object hitting the walls if the building tiles forward.