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Top Rated Attractions in Amsterdam

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Amsterdam Canal District

Grachtengordel, also known as the Amsterdam Canal District, is one of Amsterdam's cultural hubs. Declared a World Heritage Site by UNESCO, this district comprises four principal canals, namely the Singel, the Herengracht, the Keizersgracht, and the Prinsengracht canals, a historic network that dates back to the 17th Century. This neighborhood is also noted for its impeccable urban planning which endured nearly four centuries. A major landmark situated in this area is the Anne Frank House, which is a museum dedicated to the Jewish writer Anne Frank.

The Jordaan

One of the city's oldest neighborhoods, the Jordaan traces its roots to the 17th Century as an area built for the working class. The neighborhood has since transformed into an upscale quarter. Today, the Jordaan is a harmonious blend of the old and new, with charming historical courtyards, stellar art galleries, and great dining options. Of particular interest are the markets regularly held at Noordermarkt, Lindengracht and Westerstraat, the Jordaan Museum, and the Westerkerk with its lofty bell tower. Over the years, the neighborhood's diverse makeup has also given rise to a distinctive musical style that is still celebrated through performances at Jordaan's many bars and cafes. Down the streets and along the canals of Jordaan, quaint historic homes and contemporary attractions vie for the attention of passersby.

Vondelpark

This large, green oasis was created in the second half of the 19th Century, and named after the poet Joost van den Vondel (1587-1679), a statue of whom was unveiled here in 1867. Today Vondelpark, one of the most-visited spots in the city, is a restful haven for citizens away from the city's chaos. Come here for inline skating, let your children play in the large playground or have a cup of coffee on one of the four terraces.

Westerkerk

The Netherlands' most renowned church has been the source of inspiration for many musicians. The famous tower was completed in 1638, its bells manufactured by acclaimed bell-founder François Hemony in 1658. Though the Protestant community owned Westerkerk, the tower was the property of the local authorities and served as a lookout. This marks the site of Rembrandt's burial, as well as the marriage of Queen Beatrix and Prince Claus. For Anne Frank, whose hidden annex is located just a few doors down, the ringing of the clock was a beacon of hope during World War II.

Centraal Station

Amsterdam's Centraal Station dates back to 1889, when it was first used for the transport of goods. Today, besides being Amsterdam's largest and busiest railway station, it is a rijksmonument (Netherland's national heritage site) and an important tourist attraction in its own right. The designer of Rijksmuseum, P.J.H. Cuypers, was the chief architect during its construction. Its magnificent facade is a blend of Neo-Renaissance and Gothic Revival styles of architecture. The building's foundation consists of 8687 wooden piles, while its roof made from cast iron stretches for 40 meters (131.2 feet). The original construction has been rebuilt more than once due to rapidly expanding traffic and rail transport. With an influx of more than 250,000 passengers everyday, it ranks among the top three busiest railway stations in the country.

Begijnhof

With origins that date back to the 14th Century, Begijnhof is Amsterdam's oldest hofje, or inner courtyard. The Medieval Courtyard was originally laid-out as a Beguinage, or dwelling for the Begijntjes - a Catholic sisterhood of single women. When the practice of the Catholic faith was deemed illegal in the 16th Century, the Beguinage was forced to surrender its chapel. A "hidden church" was built in its stead, concealed behind residential facades. This chapel still exists and is a cherished place of pilgrimage. Most of the other buildings that fringe the Begijnhof were built in the 17th and 18th Centuries, except for the Houten Huys. Constructed in 1528, this medieval timber house is Amsterdam's oldest and offers a glimpse into the city's architectural past. The courtyard also hosts the medieval home of the English Reformed Church and several historic stone plaques. Isolated from the bustle of the historic city center, the Begijnhof remains shrouded in an air of mystery, a rare, hidden gem that has survived the march of time. The entrance to the secluded courtyard is located at Spui.

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