Amsterdam is divided up into several neighbourhoods, each with its own distinct characteristic and atmosphere. Below is a selection of Amsterdammost prominent districts.
The Jordaan is the most sung about neighbourhood of Amsterdam, and is famous for its gabled houses, tiny cafés, shops and, most of its entire atmosphere. Built for the middle-class in the 17th century, the Jordaan is a medley of narrow streets and intersecting canals. After the 60the area blossomed, becoming popular amongst students and artisans. Inhabitants were famed for their spontaneity, jovial character and colourful language. Authentic Jordaan interiors can be recognized by their pink lamp shades, imitation-crystal chandeliers, porcelain figurines and the mass accumulation of plants and cats. The name Jordaan may have derived form the French word ‘jardin’ (garden) and Amsterdammers then altered this to Jordaan. Most streets and canals in the Jordaan are named after flowers, shrubs or trees. Another theory is that the name refers to the river in the Middle East. Amsterdam Jordaan was a working class district, and just over the Prinsengracht (the river Jordaan) lived the rich, in the ‘Promised Land’.
Oud-Zuid (Old South) is home to Amsterdammajor shopping street, the P.C. Hooftstraat. This upscale street is home to every designer label one desires: form Gucci and Armani to Louis Vuitton and Hugo Boss. World-renowned museums, the Rijksmuseum, Van Gogh Museum and Stedelijk Museum of Modern Art are all located in Oud-Zuid. The Museumplein (Museum Square) is often host to cultural events, festivals and exhibitions. An oasis of green and a Mekka to the bohemian, Amsterdam famous Vondelpark is also located in this district.
Formerly a quarter for the working class, de Pijp is a dynamic melting pot of cultures and nationalities. The area is full of fantastic cafés, restaurants, coffee shops and bars. Many exotic restaurants, delicatessens, grocery stores and typical Amsterdam pubs can be found along the main streets of de Pijp: the Albert Cuypstraat and Ferdinand Bolsstraat. De Pijp is perhaps best known for the large daily market, the Albert Cuyp. The open-air market stretches the entire Albert Cuypstraat, and is comprised of some 200 stalls selling mainly food and clothing. Surrounding the market are over 100 shops, restaurants, cafes and bakeries. The Sarphatipark, a pleasant park with a pond and a great place to relax, is located nearby.
The neighbourhood of Zeeburg is a new development east of Amsterdam Central Station, built on one of the artificial islands along the River IJ. Zeeburg is a residential area reputed for its contemporary architecture and modern designs. The beating heart of Zeeburg is the Indische Buurt (Indonesian district), a multicultural district with great shopping streets, nice restaurants and a lively nightlife. The Oostelijke Handelskade (street) is home to hotspots for music theatre and dinning. The KNSM Island is home to several unique shops, selling everything from art and curiosa to flowers and clothing.
Situated in the oldest part of the city, AmsterdamChinatown is home to a unique mix of Chinese and other nationalities. Visitors to this dynamic neighbourhood can enjoy authentic cuisine and shop for products in one of the many Chinese supermarkets. Te Chinese community is deeply anchored here. This is perhaps most evident with the new Fo Kuang Shan Buddhist temple on the Zeedijk. The temple is freely accessible.
A Flemish photographer once said, ‘Amsterdam is like candy for the eye!’ The city is indeed a colourful and compact world city, where all points of interest are within walking distance form each other. The 17th and 18th century merchant houses and the ring of canals largely determine the monumental character of the city centre. There waterways were originally constructed to transport merchandise by boat from the port to the front doors of wealthy merchants. The best way to experience the beauty of Amsterdamgabled houses, winsome bridges, charming churches and winding canals is by boat.