Amsterdam Past and Present
The city of Amsterdam is often dismissed as being just for young people and stag and hen parties but this is a foolish assumption as the real Amsterdam is much more than just a weekend party destination. The largest Dutch city by far, with a population of over two million in the greater metropolitan area, Amsterdam is a beautiful city with plenty of attractions and a wealth of history on almost every street. From its earliest days Amsterdam has been a centre of commerce, culture and the arts and has produced more than its fair share of famous people that have left their mark in the annals of history.
Famous Amsterdammers and Residents
Rembrandt. Although born in Leiden, the artist Rembrandt van Rijn is an adopted son of Amsterdam having lived in the city for most of his working life. Famous for his many self-portraits and depictions of biblical scenes, Rembrandt also contributed greatly to the development of etching and printing techniques. It is estimated that Rembrandt produced some 600 paintings, 400 etchings and over 2,000 drawings in his lifetime and virtually all of his etchings can be seen today in the redecorated and restored Rembrandt House where the artist lived from 1639 to 1658.
Anne Frank. Born Annelies Marie Frank in Frankfurt, Germany, World War II holocaust victim Anne Frank spent most of her short life in Amsterdam. The Frank family fled to Amsterdam to escape the Nazi persecution of Jews but was trapped in the Dutch city as the German invasion swept across Europe. Hiding in secret rooms behind a bookcase in her father’s workplace, Anne kept a diary which depicted the horror and fear of everyday life under Nazi occupation. The house in which the Frank family hid for two years before being discovered and arrested by the Gestapo still exists as the Anne Frank Museum and is one of Amsterdam’s biggest tourist attractions.
Freddy Heiniken. Aficionados of great beer will be familiar with Heiniken which is one of the world’s leading brands. This was not always the case as Heiniken was a small family-operated brewery until the 1940’s when it passed into the care of Freddy Heiniken who proceeded to turn it into a global brand. Heiniken was famously kidnapped in 1983 and, despite a ransom of 16 million Euros being paid, held captive for three weeks until rescued by police. The incident was released as a movie “Kidnapping Mr. Heiniken” in 2013 with Anthony Hopkins portraying Freddy Heiniken. The Heiniken Brewery is located in the centre of Amsterdam and is visited by millions of tourists every year to see how the beer is made and sample the brew for themselves.
Getting Around Amsterdam
Despite its large population, Amsterdam is not a huge sprawling city. Most of the major tourist attractions are centrally located and easily reached on foot. Staying in the centre of town can save time and money and an excellent base for any visit is the very reasonably priced Amsterdam Hostel Orfeo which is just a short stroll from the Heiniken Brewery, Anne Frank Museum, Rembrandt House and a host of other must-see attractions as you get to know the REAL Amsterdam.