Monumental Amsterdam

By: Sara Toscano


Searching for Historic Monuments in Amsterdam?


History, you will find. As a capital in central Europe, Amsterdam has a remarkable and intricate past. Monuments, they will always surround you, for Amsterdam has 7,000 officially recognized historical buildings and monuments.


But there is no such thing as MONUMENTAL buildings in Amsterdam.


Monumental buildings do not fit this city. And the reason is not just the muddy, sandy, slippery soil but the frame of mind of its people. As Geert Mak says, the monumentality of Amsterdam exists only in the heads of its inhabitants, not on the streets. Amsterdammers generate trends, make world-shattering laws and are one of the greatest builders of tolerance, but massive stone and bricks constructions are just not for them.


Still, if you are visiting this metropolis, there are quite some buildings that you should definitely catch sight of, mainly because of its charming legends and fascinating History: the Waag, the old entrance of the city, where the boats used to stop and have their goods weighed and taxed; the Schreierstoren, where romantic wives would wave goodbye to their husbands when they left for the seven seas; the headquarters of the VOC, the famous Dutch East Indies Company; and the Oude Kerk, the oldest church in the city, in the heart of the RLD.


However, if you visit any of these buildings don’t expect a breathtaking trip through time, an entrance fee that comes with a fancy ticket to glue on your travelling diary, or even postcards…The Amsterdammers are genuinely pragmatic and they have altered the buildings according to their needs.


Therefore, the Waag is now a fancy café-restaurant, the Schreierstoren a nice bar, the headquarters of the VOC the University of Amsterdam and the Oude Kerk a cultural and exhibitions centre.


There used to be one great construction in the city called the Palace of People’s Industry but ironically, it burnt to the ground in 1929. From big buildings you can find the Central Station, which had necessarily to be big, and the Rijksmuseum that was build specifically to house the magnificent Dutch masterpieces, which are a lot. In fact, both buildings were built by the same architecture, P. Cuypers, and have exactly the same style…


So, if all these buildings are not enough to satisfy your wish of seeing something grand, you can always walk down the Single canal and find, on number 7, an astonishing building you will never forget: the narrowest house in the world!