We left from Newark Airport on Friday night and arrived at Schiphol
Airport, near Amsterdam, on Saturday. Schiphol has only one terminal,
but the place is clean, modern, efficient and very tourist-friendly.
From the airport, we took a train into the city.
The train took us to the Centraal Station in Amsterdam (at right) and
only took 20 minutes. All trains and trams start here in the Centraal
Station. How convenient
to have a train that goes to Amsterdam right at the airport terminal.
thing about the trains in the Netherlands, they are very clean, very
and very on time (you know who liked that last part). A train
Amsterdam runs every 15 minutes. While we were in the airport, we
bought Amsterdam Passes for only €29 each.
This turned out to be a big bargain for us. Along with a three-day tram
pass, it had free admission to museums, canal rides and discounts on
other things. They use Euros here now
(€ is the symbol for euros), the Dutch Guilder has been almost completely replaced. Some places still give the price in both, but we never saw a guilder while we were there. The Euro dollar is worth around 90 cents (in 2002), so it is pretty close to the American dollar. Once you arrive at the Centraal Station, you can take numerous, and many times colorful, trams throughout the city (if you look closely you see the Mercedes Benz logo on the front of the red tram). There is one tram ride that goes around the city and is good to see the sights.
were staying at the Inntel
Amsterdam Zaandam Hotel, which is in
a city about 6 miles northwest of Amsterdam across the North Sea Canal,
10 minutes by train. The picture above-left is of one of the trains in
train station that we took into Amsterdam each day. After arriving at
the Centraal Station, we had to
switch trains to Zaandam. We found the hotel easily enough; it is right
to the station. The room was very clean and pleasant. After a little
we went back to the train station and bought tickets to back to
tickets were cheap; a round-trip for the two of us was only € 6,60.
The architecture of the Centraal Station is very interesting. This is the major train station in Amsterdam (a frontal picture is at the top of the webpage). The Neo-Renaissance red-brick railway station was designed by PJH Cuypers, who who designed the Rijksmuseum (National Museum), and was opened in 1889. The Dutch created three artificial islands, first driving 8,600 wooden piles into the water, to build the station on. It cuts off the view to the water, but makes an incredible entranceway to the city. 1,400 trains come through this station everyday. On the left is a picture of one of the two towers. It looks like a clock, but it's not. It's actually a weathervane (It's between the Z or zuiden and the O or oosten - so the wind is from the south-east). The west tower (left in top picture) has the weathervane and the east tower (right in top picture) has the clock.
Since this was
our first trip to Amsterdam, we decided to get acclimated to the city
by taking a canal boat ride. Amsterdam
is a city of canals. It has been called the "Venice of the North." The
was beautiful, but it was a little cool and breezy so we took our
They took a good picture of
us getting onto the canal boat in the Damrak (below). It was a one-hour
canal ride. The boat was glass enclosed so we
hot. We went clockwise around the city canals (at right). We didn't
know the city
very well, so we didn't know where we were. After we returned to the
to walk around the city.
The next evening, we
would took another canal boat ride, however, this one was free because
of the Amsterdam Pass. It was getting dark so it was nice to travel on
the canal at twilight. Many of the canal bridges are lit up.
After our first canal trip, we
followed the tourists and headed to the Oude Zijde
(Old side) section of the city. We headed
to the Oude Kerk (Old Church) and quickly realized that we had
wandered into the Red Light District. The streets was full of glass
with red neon lights above them, with scantily dressed prostitutes
at the people passing by. At night, they would have black lights in
booths, which gave their white outfits (what little there was of them)
a glow in the dark effect. These booths extend around the Oude Kerk.
were sex shops and strange fountains, which even I couldn’t take a
|Flag of Amsterdam: The three Xs -St. Andrew's crosses- represent the three virtues of the city; Valor, Resolute and Merciful. A popular tradition also links the X's to the three threats to the city, Water, Fire and Pestilence.|
A Short History of Amsterdam
The early "Amsterdammers" acquired a talent for trade and from the fourteenth century onwards trade with the Hanseatic cities flourished. Medieval Amsterdam's chief exports were herring and beer. It was during this time that early forms of canal houses started to appear. Amsterdam gained city rights in 1301, granted by Guy van Henegouwen, the Bishop of Utrecht, but this was only a confirmation of the earlier rights given to the city by the Lords of Aemstel.
Amsterdam suffers two devastating fires in the 15th century and by 1480 built a defensive wall around the city (after the second fire, which destroyed three-fourths of the city) the city passed a law against using wood for buildings). In 1482, control of the Netherlands goes to future Holy Roman Emperor, Maximilian. In 1506, the Netherlands passes under the rule of Charles (who will later become the king of Spain and then the Holy Roman Emperor). By this time, the population of Amsterdam reaches 12,000 and it had become the main power in the province of Holland.
Anabaptists (Protestants) demonstrate in Dam Square in 1535 which leads to mass executions and 40 years of religious turmoil. The Edict of Blood in 1550 decreed death for all Protestants. In 1555, Charles V abdicates and King Philip II of Spain (the one who married Queen Mary of England and later sent the Spanish Armada to invade England) becomes ruler of the Netherlands. By this time, the population of Amsterdam reaches 30,000.
As the Protestant Reformation swept through Northern Europe, Calvinism started to grow in power in the Netherlands. As a counter-measure, Philip II sent the Duke of Alva, nicknamed the Iron Duke, to the Netherlands with an army to suppress the Protestants. The Dutch resented Spanish taxes and feared the methods of the Spanish Inquisition. This resentment fueled Dutch protests about their rights, liberties and religious toleration upon which their wealth from free trade depended.
By the late 16th century, the Dutch War of Independence, under Protestant William of Orange (great-grandfather of King William III of England who would be assassinated in the town of Delft in 1584), began against the Spanish which would develop into the 80 Years' War. Although originally on the Spanish side, Amsterdam switched sides in 1578. The Calvinists kicked out the Catholics in what has been called "The Alteration." However, freedom of religion was re-instated, a very positive move at the time. Despite the attempts by the Calvinists, Amsterdam remained a Roman Catholic city, and Roman Catholicism remains the major religion in the city to this day.
With the help of Queen Elizabeth of England, the Netherlands, led by William's son, Maurice, was able to become free of Spanish rule by 1604. However, as religious wars continued to rage throughout Europe, many people were looking for a place of refuge where they would not be condemned for their religion. Wealthy Jewish families from Spain and Portugal, prosperous merchants from Antwerp, fleeing the destruction and ransacking of their city by the Spanish and the Huguenots from France all sought refuge in Amsterdam.
At the end of the 16th century, Amsterdam experiences a Golden Age (1585-1672). Some of the most important historic buildings date back to this period, like the town hall in the Dam Square (now the Royal Palace), the Westerkerk, Zuiderkerk as well as a large number of canal houses. In 1613, Amsterdam started work on it's triple rings of large canals, bordered by beautiful houses, around the city. With this, the city expanded as Amsterdam became the most important port in the world and an international center for banking. Amsterdam's ships sailed to North America, Indonesia, Brazil and Africa, building an impressive empire in the process. A Dutch settlement in the Americas was called, "New Amsterdam" (modern New York City). The Dutch navy would fight the British and the French for control of the seas. Amsterdam also saw a growth in the arts. Famous painter Rembrandt van Rijn (at left) lived and worked in Amsterdam.
The 18th and 19th century saw a decline in the prosperity of Amsterdam (though they did remain wealthy). Wars against England and France eventually took their toll on the city and trade was lost to London. Nevertheless, Amsterdam managed to consolidate its prosperity from 1672 to 1795, despite the predicament the Republic was in. Amsterdam remained a major staple market and managed to retain its position as the financial center of Europe.
However, in 1795 the government of the patrician oligarchies was overthrown and the old Republic ceased to exist. Soon the French, under Napoleon, occupied the country. From 1795 to 1813, Amsterdam suffered badly from the economic recession, reflected by the stagnation of the city. Many houses were vacant and some even collapsed for lack of maintenance.
At the end of the 19th century, the Industrial Revolution reached Amsterdam. New waterways to the sea and to the river Rhine river improved communication with the rest of Europe and the world. Amsterdam got a new lease on life, but never reached the same supremacy as before. Amsterdam started to develop the area beyond the Singelgracht.
World War I did not affect Amsterdam as the Netherlands remained neutral, although trade and industry suffered. Between the wars, the Dutch built a dike separating the Zuider Zee from the North Sea, thus creating the Ijsselmeer. Because of this, rivers flow into the Ijsselmeer, so the waters to the east of Amsterdam are no longer salt water, but fresh water that can be used for drinking.
During World War II, German troops occupied the city on May 15, 1940. During the Nazi occupation, about 100,000 Jewish people were deported from Amsterdam to concentration camps, almost completely wiping out the Jewish community in the city. Anne Frank (at right) and her family were among those people deported. Before the war, Amsterdam was the world's center for the diamond trade. Since this trade was mostly in the hands of Jewish businessmen and craftsmen, the diamond trade almost disappeared. Amsterdam is still important, but the city of Antwerp in Belgium is the main center for diamonds today. By September of 1944, the people of Amsterdam hoped for liberation, as the German armies were on the run after their defeat in Normandy and Allied troops had crossed into Holland. However, the Allies defeat at Arnhem (depicted in the movie A Bridge Too Far) forced the people of Amsterdam to endure a harsh winter of depravation. The Germans held on to the Netherlands as the Allies bypassed them and pushed into Germany. It wasn't until May 7, 1945, (two weeks after Hitler's suicide) that Canadian troops entered Amsterdam liberating it from the Nazi's.
The sixties and seventies put Amsterdam back on the map, for reasons other than trade. The tolerance of soft drugs made the city a popular destination for hippies, and the squatting of unoccupied buildings became widespread. Riots and clashes with the police were frequent. In 1980, while Queen Beatrix was crowned the new Queen of The Netherlands in the Nieuwe Kerk on Dam square, a group of protesters outside fought against the police.
Today, Amsterdam is the largest city in The Netherlands with 800,000 people. Although the seat of government is at Den Haag (The Hague), Amsterdam is still the nominal capital. It is situated on low-lying ground at the confluence of the Amstel and the Ij rivers near the Ijsselmeer. Amsterdam, like much of Holland, is below sea level.
|De PRINSENGRACHT (The Prince's Canal)
Now, that's careful parking!
(Looking toward St. Nicolaasserk)
|De PRINSENGRACHT (The Prince's Canal)||De BROUWERSGRACHT (The Brewers Canal)|
(Looking toward St. Nicolaasserk)
The shape of the canal house at right gives a strange illusion
|De KEIZERSGRACHT (The Emperor's Canal)|
Like most places in the world, football (or soccer in America) is the top sport in Amsterdam. The main professional club is Amsterdamsche Football Club Ajax or AFC Ajax. The club is historically one of the top-10 football clubs in the world, and one of the three clubs that dominate Dutch football, the other two being Feyenoord Rotterdam and PSV Eindhoven. AFC Ajax is one of only four clubs to have won all three major European trophies at least once (the European Champions Cup, the European Cup Winners Cup and the UEFA Cup). They play in the KNVB or Koninklijke Nederlandse Voetbal Bond (Royal Dutch Football Association). They are the most successful team in the league winning 29 titles (as of 2005). They wear white jerseys with a large horizontal bar down the front. They go by the nicknames "Godenzonen" (Sons of gods) or "Joden" (Jews). They play in the 51,859 seat Amsterdam ArenA which opened in 1996. The arena is also the home of the American football tear, Amsterdam Admirals. They even have an American fansite called Ajax USA.
The club was founded in Amsterdam in 1900 in a bar on Kalverstraat. For a name, The founders chose a notorious and bold Greek warrior: Ajax. In 1934, Ajax moved to De Meer Stadion in east Amsterdam, where they would play until 1996. De Meer stadium was an unusually small stadium for such a large club, but the small stadium also created a cozy atmosphere. De Meer was demolished to make way for a housing development after Ajax moved to a new stadium in 1996 (sounds like Ebbetts Field).
Football season in the Netherlands runs from the beginning of August and ends at the beginning of May. There are 20 teams in the league. The team with the best record is considered the champion. Ajax has accomplished this 29 times. Three Dutch teams then get to compete in the UEFA Champions League (a prestigious championship of the most successful football clubs in Europe which was inaugurated in 1955). The KNVB championship team automatically goes while 2nd place plays 5th place and 3rd place plays 4th place, with the two winners going.
In 1957, Ajax qualified for their first European Cup (for-runner of the current UEFA Champions League), winning two games before being eliminated by Vasas SC of Budapest 4-0. They returned again in 1960-61 but were eliminated early by Fredrikstad FK of Norway. The late sixties saw a real emergence from Ajax. They qualified for the European Cup in 1966-67 losing in the quarter-finals to Dukla Prague. The following year, they lost in the 1st Round to powerhouse Real Madrid. In 1968-69, Ajax advanced all the way to the European Cup finals but lost to AC Milan 4-1 in Santiago Bernabéu in Madrid.
Two years later during the early 1970's, AFC Ajax dominated European club football by winning the European Cup in 1971, 1972 and 1973 (they defeated Panathinaikos FC of Greece 2-0, FC Internazionale of Milan 2-0 and Juventus FC of Turin 1-0). The success had two main causes: the highly disciplined coaching by Rinus Michels (who developed the concept of Total Football or "Totaal Voelbal") and the genius of Johan Cruijff (often spelled Cruyff outside the Netherlands). Ajax string of championships ended in 1973-74 when they lost 2-0 to CSKA Sofia. Between 1978 and 1986, Ajax qualified for the European Cup five times.
In 1995, after a nine year absence, they returned to the UEFA Champions League (they renamed it in 1992) and advanced all the way to the finals. In Ernst Happel Stadium in Vienna, they defeated AC Milan 1-0 on a goal by Patrick Kluivert late in the game for their fourth championship. The following year, AFC Ajax again advanced to the finals only to lose in penalty kicks to Juventus FC of Turin. They qualified again in 1998-99.
Ajax has qualified every year since 2001-02 (6 straight times) for a total of 23 times. In 2003, they advanced to the semi-finals before losing 3-2 to eventual winner AC Milan. In 2006-07, they lost in the Third Qualifying Round to F.C. Copenhagen.
The Ajax fans have the very remarkable tradition of using Jewish and Israeli symbols to express their allegiance. Regularly, the supporters wave large Star of David flags and scream Joden! Joden! ("Jews! Jews!") to fire up their team. Die-hard Ajax supporters call themselves "F-Siders" or "Joden" -- Dutch for "Jews" -- a nickname that reflects the team's and Amsterdam's Jewish roots. The nickname for Ajax fans dates back to before World War II, when Amsterdam was home to many of the Netherlands' 140,000 Jews and the Ajax stadium was located near a Jewish neighborhood. Most Dutch Jews were killed in the Holocaust, and little remains of Amsterdam's old Jewish quarter. But the tradition survived. Ajax currently has no Jewish players, the last player with Jewish roots being Daniel de Ridder.
One of the more popular plaza in Amsterdam is the
Leidseplein. This square is one of the
liveliest squares in the city and a
tram intersection. The square developed in the 17th century as a wagon
park for farmers and peasants to leave their carts here before entering
the city center. The name comes from the Leidsepoort, which once marked
the end of the main road from Amsterdam to Leiden. On our first day
here, we stopped for a
beer (bier) and a soda at the
Cafe. You can probably guess who had what. We came back here on
after spending the morning in the Rijksmuseum Museum, for lunch and a
couple of Heineken weissbiers (for me of course).
The people in Amsterdam are very friendly and almost everyone speaks English fluently. The days were cool, but people still sat outside at the cafes. Unfortunately, it became a bit colder at night, so not many braved the temperatures to sit outside. Late Monday afternoon, after visiting the Van Gogh Museum, we came back here to have coffee and hot chocolate in an English Pub. This time we sat inside.
Around the Leidseplein is the Stadsschouwburg (at right).
It is a red bricked Neo-Renaissance theater that was built in the last
century. Up until 1986, it was home to the Dutch national ballet
and opera companies. Today it stages plays by local drama groups. When
Amsterdam's top soccer team, Ajax, wins important games, crowds crowd
in the Leidseplein to cheer for the team members who gather on the
theater's balcony. Ajax plays in the Dutch Football League (remember
their football is our soccer) and has won 29 championships along with
four European Cups and two World Club Championships.
The American Hotel is also here. The original hotel, with
it's American motif, complete with bronze eagle and wooden indians, was
torn down in 1901. The current Art Nouveau style hotel was built the
following year. Inside is the Cafe Americain, an Art Deco style
restaurant, where Debbie and I had dinner one night. When you leave the
Leidseplein, you can walk along the busy Leidsestraat, across the main
canals, back toward the center of the Amsterdam like we did one night.
One day, after visiting the Anne Frank
Haus, we had lunch at an outdoor
café in the
plaza). It's between the Amstel River and the
Herengracht across from the Old City. It was originally called the
Botermarkt, after the butter market held here until the mid-19th
century. In the center of
the plaza is a park
with, you guessed it, Rembrandt's statue. It was erected here in 1876,
giving the square it's new name.
The Rembrandtplein is a very colorful square lined
cafes and hotels and is thus a tourist magnet (as can be seen in the
photo at left). At night, when all of
signs are on, it becomes even more colorful. A popular
nightlife, it also includes traditional Dutch pubs which play real
Dutch music and serve Dutch beer. Our lunch at an outdoor cafe
was very enjoyable as was my Amstel bier (I was impressed that Amstel made a
draft weissbier which is my favorite). Local musicians play for you as
you eat and drink and then pass around the hat for a Euro or two. When
we were there, there was a bagpiper playing for us. It didn't seem
traditionally Dutch, but it was fine.
In the Old City, not to far from the Nieuwmarkt, is
Waterlooplein. This square dates from 1882, when two canals were filled
in to create a large market square in the Jewish quarter. The area
originally called Vlooyenberg, a place built in the 17th century to
house incoming Jewish settlers. The square now takes it's name from the
famous 1815 battle that ended Napoleon's bid to re-conquer Europe.
Debbie and I went to the Rembrandt House Museum. After walking through Rembrandt's house we went to the “Experience Holland” next door. It's a 28-minute light and 3-D movie on the Netherlands called “Experience Holland.” It was all right. Afterwards, we walked over to the Waterlooplein which also has a large open flea-market that sells everything and anything. We walked through it, but didn't buy anything. Next to the bridge over the Zwanenburgwal across from Rembrandt's House, is this interesting canal house with a bar and outdoor cafe that appears to be tipping over.
far from the Spui plaza is the Begijnhof. This is not a traditional
square with cafes and restaurants but an enclosed courtyard
dating from the early 14th century. Nothing survived of the earliest
dwellings, but the Begijnhof, which is cut off from Amsterdam's traffic
noise by houses, still retains a sanctified atmosphere. We had to walk
through an arched entrance to see it. The Begijnhof
was originally built as a sanctuary for the Begijntjes, a Catholic
sisterhood who lived like nuns, although they took no monastic vows.
The beautiful houses overlook its well-kept green garden, include the
Amsterdam's oldest surviving house, the Het Houten Huis. It dates from
around 1420. On the adjoining walls, there is a fascinating collection
of wall plaques with biblical theme. Southern fringe of the square is
dominated by the Engelse Kerk (English Church) which dates from the
15th century and possesses its original medieval tower. Originally a
Catholic Church, it was confiscated during the Alteration and then
rented to a group of English and Scottish Presbyterians in 1607. We
that some of the original Pilgrims may have worshipped here while they
were living in Amsterdam before coming to America
on the Mayflower to establish the Plymouth Colony in 1620. We wanted to
go inside, but there was a wedding going on.
Beers of Amsterdam
Some of the most famous beers in the world come from Amsterdam. The most famous of them all is Heineken. In 1863, 22-year old Gerard Adriaan Heineken bought a 16th century brewery and started brewing his famous beer. He was shocked by the drunkenness in Amsterdam caused by gin drinking that he wanted to brew a healthy beer. Today, Heineken is the second largest producer of beer (over 2.5 billion gallons). It is also the largest exporter, shipping a half
billion gallons of beer a year, in their famous green bottles, around the world.
Another famous beer started a few years later. In 1870, Baron C. A. de Pester began a brewery next to the river in Amsterdam which gives it's beer it's name, Amstel. Today, Amstel is the second largest exporter of beer in the world. In America, it's Amstel Light is the number one imported light beer. However, Amstel makes ten different kinds of beer. In 1968, the two beer companies, Heineken and Amstel, who were bitter rivals, decided to join forces and merge.
Amsterdam also makes some other good beers like Wieckse Witte and De Koninck. Another famous Dutch beer, though not from Amsterdam, is Grolsch which has it's origins going back to the 17th century.
Today the house is
a museum. We walked past it on Sunday and saw the long lines so we
decided to go early on Monday. There was a line, but it wasn’t bad, it
cost only € 6,50 each. You see a few videos in a larger modern building
next door. Then you walk through the front part of the building
had offices and a warehouse. You see Mr. Frank's office. After that,
you go though the secret annex past the swinging bookcase
in the back of the building. All of the
rooms are the same as they were in 1944 when Anne Frank, her family and
the other Jewish people hid for 28 months from the Nazi’s. The rooms
are empty now except for Anne’s pictures that she pasted to the walls
of her room (where she wrote most of her diary); all of the furniture
is gone because the Nazi’s confiscated it after the families were
arrested. In the multimedia space, visitors can go on a “virtual
journey” through the Anne Frank House, accessing background information
about the people in hiding and World War II. The museum gets very busy
and the lines can get long. That's why we went first thing in the day. After this we walked around the nearby
Westerkerk and then headed
across the city to
the Rembrandtplein (Rembrandt plaza) for lunch.
distance from Rembrandtplein is the
Herengracht facing the canal. It's a large 17th century
house owned by a rich Amsterdam merchant named Pieter Holthuysen and
his daughter and son-in-law, Abraham Willet. Today it is furnished in
luxury style of 18th and 19th century merchants (Oh boy, is it ever!).
These people knew how to live. Some of the rooms remain unchanged,
while others, such as the kitchen and the Garden room, have been
restored in the style of the 18th century.
picture here is of one of the fireplaces in the museum. As you can see
Holthuysen's and the Willet's lived in style. You should see their
bedroom! All of the rooms are set up as if the families are going to
come home at any minute.
Later on Monday, we
took a tram to the Van Gogh
in the Museum District
between the Rijksmuseum and the Stedelijk
Museum. The Van Gogh Museum entrance is on the Paulus Potterstraat. The
museum has a very interesting architectural design and contains the
largest collection of van Gogh's paintings in the world. There was a
small line. We paid the € 26 for
the two of us to go in, which I thought was quite expensive. Van Gogh's
work is organized chronologically into five periods, each representing
a different phase of his life and work: The Netherlands, Paris, Arles,
Saint-Remy and Auvers-sur-Oise. They also had a
special exhibit, Van Gogh & Gauguin. We saw a lot of Sunflower
and one of his last works, Crows in the Wheatfield
(above - we bought a copy of this print which is now hanging in our
at home). They had a recreation of Van Gogh's studio. We spent about an
in there. We bought some prints in the gift shop. They put them in
long blue triangular shaped boxes that scream "tourist". We had seen
people walking around the city with these same boxes. Now we joined
The picture at left is a wall mural of one of Debbie's favorite
paintings, Van Gogh's Starry Night on one of the streets
On Tuesday it was cloudy so I didn’t take too many pictures. We took the tram to the Rijksmuseum. Amsterdam's Rijksmuseum, the National Museum, is the largest museum of art and history in the Netherlands. It was opened in 1800 as the Nationale Konstgallerij (National Art Gallery). After moving from place to place, Architect P.J.H. Cuypers designed this historical building using a mixture of Gothic and Renaissance styles. It was officially opened in 1885. The building is very large and historical and receives over a million visitors a year. The cost was € 8,- each, but we got in free because of the Amsterdam Pass. We first went through the wing with the furniture and dishes. They do have a couple of interesting Dollhouses. We went into a special exhibit on the 17th Century Dutch painter, Michail Sweerts. From there, we went to the main hall also called the Night Watch Hall, which features the museums main attraction, Rembrandt’s The Night Watch (below). If you visit the Rijksmuseum, come to the main hall first. Other works exhibited numerous Dutch painters like Vermeer, Frans Hals and Jan Steen. Also, there is a part on Dutch history. We got to the museum at 10:15 and left at 2:30. We spent over 4 hours inside! If you go here, go to the main hall first. By the time we got there, we were a bit tired.
The Night Watch, the most famous painting in the Rijksmuseum, actually has another title, Company of Frans Banning Cocq and Willem van Ruytenburch. Rembrandt painted it in 1642. The painting includes eighteen actual militiamen (also called Arquebusiers) who all paid Rembrandt to be in the painting (except the drummer who was put in the painting for free) making it a kind of team picture. The captain, Frans Banning Cocq is wearing the red sash and is giving orders to his lieutenant, Willem van Ruytenburch, who is dressed in gold. Some of the other people were added to make the painting more interesting. What makes this painting so different was it wasn't the typical group portrait with everyone sitting around a table or posing in rows but rather the people in it are in motion walking toward the viewer. It looks like a snapshot of a group in action rather than a posed portrait.
almost 12 feet high and over 14 feet wide, it was a lot bigger then I
thought it would be (above right is only a portion of the actual
painting). Incredibly, the painting was originally bigger then it is
today. When it was moved from it's original location, the Great Hall of
the Arquebusiers, in 1715 to the Town Hall on the Dam Square (now the
Royal Palace), it was
too big to fit on the wall. The 'brilliant' solution they came up with
was to trim off parts of the paintings from all of the sides. A
particularly large piece was cut off the left side. Unfortunately none
of these pieces were kept. Three of the original militiamen in the
painting were thus removed (I guess they may be entitled to a refund).
It was moved to the Rijksmuseum in 1815 and finally to this building in
1885. It has only been moved once since then and that was to a
protective bunker during World War II.
historical note; Frans Banning Cocq (in black with red sash) was born
in 1605 and, eight years after Rembrandt painted him, became the mayor
of Amsterdam. He died in 1655 and is buried in the tombs beneath the
Oude Kerk (though they don't know exactly where - opps, lost another
Tuesday, our last night, we looked at a
number of restaurants until
we found one on
(a street off of the Spui plaza) called Haesje Claes. It was a little
but it had a nice atmosphere. It had an old look with wooden walls and
candles. Dinner was good and so was the wine (a ’99 Chateau Le Payeal –
Bergerac), but we skipped dessert. Dinner was
only € 59,90. We skipped desert not to save money (or calories), but to
walk back to
Waag for their dessert. This time I tried the coffee ice cream with
topping and Debbie had the same as the first time we were there (a
tart with mango sauce). My dessert was good, but not as good as the
boulet that I had there on Sunday.