Neighborhood Shopping; The Rozengracht in the Jordan

By G. Zaragosa

Shopping is one of the great joys in Amsterdam. Every guidebook will tell you about the great shops on Kalverstraat and the Nieuwendijk but we are going shopping in one of the best-known neighborhoods in Amsterdam, The Jordan.

The Jordan is a well-defined area of working class apartments and shops. Young professionals have infiltrated it since it became a trendy place to live in the late 80’s. Today there is a good mix of students, elderly, professionals and just plain regular folk.

If you stand in front of The Anne Frank House and look across the canal, The Prinsengracht, you are looking into the Jordan. The famous Westerkerk, where Rembrandt’s body lies, as well as The Anne Frank House are not in The Jordan but just next to it at the edge of the ‘Center’ or downtown area.

There are several large shopping streets in the Jordan and literally hundreds of great shops so I will focus on one street, The Rozengracht and a side street or two.

The Rozengracht is a lovely wide street with tramlines and parking on both sides. As its name suggests, it was once a canal but was filled in like many others. It is not a long street but it has a Mosque and a Christian church on it. There are more than a dozen great restaurants, including several snack bars that stay open until the wee hours of the morning. A sprinkling of cafes, bars and coffee shops complete the street. Of the many lovely shops, I would like to mention a few that might be of interest to the traveler or visitor, most of them being gift shops

Start at the Westerkerk and walk across The Prinsengracht down the Rozengracht away from downtown (center).

The first four shops are not on The Rozengracht but on the first side-street, Eerste Bloemdwarstraat. Do not let Dutch street names intimidate you. Many phrases in Dutch are written without spaces between the words, as it would be in English. It is easier to see if you break up the name of the street, Eerste (First) Bloem (Flower) Dwars (Cross) Straat (street) or the first street that crosses Flower Street.

The first shop is one of my favorite shops, even though I have never bought anything there. I look in their display window every time I walk by. It is The Movie Poster Shop, De Lach. They sell old and new movie posters and old movie still photos of people like Marilyn Monroe and Elvis. Next to them is The Beeldpop, they have rock legend statues and are notable for their VW bus ceramic banks. If you love VW buses, you have to have one of these, a deal at 10 Euros. Across the street is Bloem en Zo, a flower shop. They carry all kinds of plants, scented candles, vases and of course tulips and bulbs. Next to them is Differentes, second hand designer clothes for women. I have seen some very nice things on display there.

Now back onto The Rozengracht. Walking away from The Westerkerk, Kitch Kitchen, a popular place for locals to buy gifts and small toys. Everything in the store is imported from Mexico and yes, it is all kitschy.

There is an ATM (cash machine) just next door.

The Coppenhagen is a bead store with thousands and thousands of beads from all over the world. Many women go in and assemble their own necklaces or bracelets.

Pasta Panini is not a restaurant; they sell fresh pasta, deli meats and have tapa-type cold salads. They also have many imports from Italy. Just across the little side street is an ATM (cash machine). Next is a small dress shop called Vezjun with a nice trendy collection of dresses made in the shop.

Then comes the Mercan Patisserie which is one of my regular places to grab a snack. They are famous for Turkish pizza, just try it, you won’t be sorry! They also sell a large assortment of breads with cheese, spinach, ham and other fillings, and of course Turkish pastries.

 The Nico Brakenhoff Baker, a bakery, has dozens of different breads, and pastries. The raisin yogurt scones are one of my favorites.

Next is a laundry, the Stomerij Kleding reparatie. They also do sewing and repair for a reasonable price.

The Rozengraght ends just beyond the Marnixstraat ahead, it becomes DeClerkstraat from there. Now let’s cross the street and go back up towards the Westerkerk.

The Brasserie 2000 sells deluxe sandwiches and they make their own bread. Open 10-6 it is a good lunch place. There is a lovely sunny patio in the back. The décor is very chic and modern. It is worth a visit.

Next is not a shop but The Rozen Theater. It is built in Art Deco style and was our local theater for movies in the past. Today there are no more movies, only stage performances are held here.

Sabina in an Indian import gift shop. I stuck my head in and was greeted by sweet incense and a waterfall of colors from the hundreds of clothes bags and gifts from India, a good gift shop.

The next shop has my vote for interestingest shop on the street (Excuse my bad English). It is Al Gha Rnata, they sell North African Art and Souvenirs.  Many wood carvings, ceramics and metal work. Many, many nice things.

The next place is not a shop but should be of interest for some visitors. Just around the corner on the Eerst Rozendwarstraat is Dancestreet, a ballet studio that offers flamenco and jazz dance classes as well as yoga, Pilates, martial arts and belly dancing. In addition, a gym offers daily rates. It is a good place to exercise if you work out, dance or perform, while on vacation. The website is in English and Dutch. or you can call for info. Tel. 020 489-7676.

Back onto the Rozengracht, the Babylon Kadoshop is a small but bright place with many lights made of multi-colored glass and lovely vases. They have some very nice gifts.

Vandal com-x sells old and new comics and action figures from comics and movies. They have discounts on old comics and is a good place to read a bit. Next, the Pure Clothing Company sells lovely sarongs and clothes from India.

These are all family owned businesses and each have a personality and uniqueness of their own. After you visit The Anne Frank House or the Westerkerk, take a walk down The Rozengracht and shop where the locals shop.