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Showing posts from May, 2014

The Begijnhof, Amsterdam

Behind this nondescript door is an enclave in the center of Amsterdam. This was once the home of the Beguines, single women whose mission was to care for the sick. The first recorded document of the Begijnhof dates back to 1346 when a certain Cope van der Laene gave the Beguines the Beghijnhuis (house of Beguines).
Courtyard of the Begijnhof
The door from the Spui leads into a courtyard surrounded by traditional 17th-18th century houses which were completely renovated between 1984-1987. It's a different world as you cross the threshold. But for the noise created by the visitors, it feels as if Amsterdam is miles away. Though just outside the door, depending on the day of the week, there are outdoor cafés and musicians playing to the crowd. Or if it's the weekend, there might be a book or art fair on the Spui. 
Het Houten Huys, 1528
One of the oldest houses in Amsterdam, the Houten Huys (black façade) dates back to 1528. Many of the earlier buildings in the Begijnhof were made…

Architectural Diversity in Amsterdam

17th century canal houses
During the Dutch Golden Age, wealthy merchants built magnificent homes along the canals of Amsterdam. Today we associate Amsterdam with its 17th century canal houses. But a walk around this compact city reveals a healthy dose of Art Deco, Dutch Art Nouveau, and modern structures. Amsterdam is a city that embraces diversity (in more aspects than one) with aplomb.

Eye Film Institute Netherlands
Across the Ij River and easily accessed by a free ferry, the Eye Film Institute reigns as the principal attraction of the Overhoeks urban district. It is the Dutch film culture and heritage museum which opened in April 2012. The EYE was designed by a Viennese architectural firm, Delugan Meissl Associated Architects. An article on April 10, 2012 in the ArchDaily described the EYE building as follows: "On the interface between land and water, between historic centre and modern development area, the building adopts many faces from each viewpoint, thus finding itself i…

Our Lord in the Attic

In the years following the Alteration in 1578 when power was transferred from Catholics to Protestants, an ordinance was passed in Amsterdam prohibiting Catholics from openly celebrating the mass. Jan Hartman, a rich merchant, bought property on Oudezijds Voorburgwal in 1661 and started rebuilding the three houses on that property to accommodate a hidden church on its top floors. 
View of the organ from the first gallery
Ludovicus Reiniers, a priest, acquired the property in 1739 and kept the church open for worship. Our Lord in the Attic remained the parish church of Catholics living in the area for over 200 years until St. Nicholas Church (in front of the Central Station) was consecrated in 1887. Soon after a group of Catholics bought the property to save it from demolition. It was reopened in 1888 as a museum, one of the oldest museums in Amsterdam. Masses are still celebrated on first Sundays of the month from October to May at 11 a.m. (Check their website for dates of masses.)
The…

That Perfect Photo Eluded Me

I know very well that to take the perfect photo of the iconic I amsterdamslogan, I must wake up at 5:30 a.m. and run over to Museumplein (at the back of the Rijksmuseum) before the tourists and visitors arrive in droves. But it was too cold to get up that early and besides, I kept late nights with friends sipping my favorite fresh mint tea leaves in one of many cafés on the Leidseplein and Rembrandstplein. So I shouldn't be disappointed at all with the images below since these were taken in late afternoon at the height of the King's Birthday weekend celebrations.

5:30 p.m. 
Everyone is hanging out in front of the slogan or should I say, all over the slogan. There's absolutely no way of getting a clear view of it. Notice the colorful orange accessories worn by many. It's the theme color of the House of Orange from whence the new King descended. These folks had been partying on the streets of Amsterdam all day long.

I have an almost unobstructed view from the back. 

Not …

"Tiptoe through the Tulips"

Though I've visited Amsterdam many times, I've never been to the tulip fields. During this recent trip, I made it a point to go to Lisse to see the profusion of colorful tulips at their peak. It was beautiful to stroll around the 32-hectare Keukenhof Gardens. While it was overcast, it wasn't cold at all and a few sprinkles didn't warrant an umbrella.


There are more than 7 million tulips, daffodils and hyacinths grown at Keukenhof. The incredible variety of tulips and amazing colors are every photographer's dream. This is truly a feast for the eyes. 

The flowers are artfully planted in diagonals, horizontals, verticals, patchwork, and many elaborate patterns. There's a windmill on site, a Japanese garden, a stream running through the gardens, fountains and playgrounds and so much more. You just need comfortable shoes and well rested legs for the long walks.

"And if I kiss you in the garden, in the moonlight Will you pardon me? And tiptoe through the tulips…