7 Top Places To Explore Amsterdam With Rembrandt van Rijn
The 15th of July, we celebrated the 407th anniversary of the birth of Rembrandt van Rijn, the Dutch painter. Although Rembrandt van Rijn never traveled in his life, he was a great explorer in his art, getting beyong both painting and society customs of the Dutch XVII century. What would have been a visit of Amsterdam with this huge artist? Let’s take a tour of Amsterdam trying to figure it out…
Introduction: Who was Rembrandt van Rijn?
The young Rembrandt born the 15th July of 1606 in Leiden, small town in the Netherlands. His parents were bakers. Kid, Rembrandt spent a lot of time in the wind mill, playing with lights, wind, nature…creating his own fantasy world: “Wonderful white structures whose arms spun endlessly in the wind, with undramatic flat countryside stretching forever”. During all his life, in the city of Amsterdam, he will try, unsuccessfully, to create the same atmsophere. Rembrandt moved to Amsterdam in 1631, to start his career as a painter. Amsterdam was expanding at that time, getting the new business capital of the Netherlands, also called the “Golden Age” period. Numerous ships were coming from all around the world, with treasures, spices, and tales that affected Rembrandt’s creativity, way of life and imagination.
Today, Amsterdam is one of the most colorful cities in Europe. You find so many places of interest: famous museums, cozy pubs, fun shops and (flower) markets… It is a city of peaceful streets and canals, historic houses and neighborhoods, an exciting, youthful nightlife, and bustling commerce. It attracts, and keeps attracting, travelers from all over the world.
Artist, nostalgic, nature lover, with a great imagination of faraway countries, where would Rembrandt van Rijn would have led us to discover Amsterdam? Let’s take a guess !
1- The Canals
With its beautiful canals running through the city centre, Amsterdam earned itself the honorary name of “the Venice of the Netherlands”. Amsterdam is physically small, beautiful, relatively quiet, and an unusual city in that it has all the advantages of a big city. It offers visitors a charm that is emphasised by elegant houses and the ever-enchanting canals. Explore the world famous canal system and the fantastic personification of tolerance and diversity that is synonymous with the romantic and beautiful city of Amsterdam. A trip along the canals is a must for every lover of architecture. By daytime already very charming, by night they become even more enchanting because a lot of the canal houses and bridges are beautifully illuminated.
Rembrandt van Rijn loved nature and his childhood countryside. Enjoy the largest park of the city, close to the Leidseplein and the big museums, always alive with skaters, joggers and all sorts of street performers.
3- The Grand Cafes
Rembrandt van Rijn enjoyed drinking and having fun. For sure, he often visited Amsterdam’s cafés. They are spread densely throughout the city. Take a well earned break and try the local erwtensoep as you wet your whistle. Especially in summertime, on warmer evenings the street in front of the bars is a favourite hangout for many locals and tourists. The popularity of Rembrandtplein has arised along with the café terraces that are packed during summer with people enjoying a pleasant drink and watching the world go by.
4- The Red Light District and coffee shops
Rembrant was definitely living on the fringe of the conventional dutch society. Thus he would have gone for sure to coffee shops. A must see, amusing sight as they sell small amounts of cannabis (but regulated!)
Probably you have heard about the Amsterdam Red-Light District as this is a very famous section in the Netherlands. Much to your surprise, what you may have heard is true! The Amsterdam Red-Light District is a place unlike any place else, servicing the personal needs and desires of locals and visitors for five centuries…Also, it is worth noting that contrary to the popular belief, the Amsterdam Red-Light District is actually the safest area in the city as clusters of policemen and private bodyguards employed by the girls themselves are always on duty.
5- The flower market
Colour and light is prominent in Rembrant’s painting. He would have loved the flower market on the Singel between the Munt tower and the Koningsplein is one of the most colourful, sweet-smelling sightseeing attractions in Amsterdam.
6- Holland Festival – A ‘kaleidoscopic window on the world’
As an artist, for sure Rembrant would have been one of the 1st to go to Holland festival. The Dutch certainly enjoy their festivals; this is the biggest annual arts event in the country and continues for three weeks during the month of June.
The Holland Festival is the trend-setting performing arts festival in the Netherlands since 1947, annually presenting exceptional work at an international level. The Festival has an illustrious history, with every artistic director taking it in new directions that have again and again made the Festival a renowned event for over sixty years.
See the full program here (www.hollandfestival.nl)
7- Meet Rembrant van Rijn in Rijksmuseum
You can’t leave Amsterdam without enjoying Rembrant’s paintings. The fabulous Rijksmuseum is the largest museum in the Netherlands. Perhaps the most famous pieces here are that by Rembrandt; the works of Frans Hals and Vermeer also feature prominently. Those who love Van Gogh can visit his modern museum, featuring 200 paintings and 550 sketches from this huge painter.
Travel to Amsterdam and understand how this city inspired so much Rembrant. Of European cities, Amsterdam is most likely to surprise, excite and intrigue its visitors. Anyway, Rembrant van Rijn was a master in his art, and he could have lived anywhere in the world, free from all boundaries wether physical or intellectual.
What about you? Have you ever been to this “Venice of the North”? What did you think about it? Please, share your views and challenge this imaginary visit with Rembrant!Also explore these orther resources. Enjoy!