5 Must See Historical Sites in Amsterdam

Amsterdam has a rich history and is full of fascinating buildings and architecture. But with such an abundance of sites to visit, it’s difficult to fit them all in on a short trip to the city. Here, we’ve put together a list of five sites which really shouldn’t be missed if you find yourself in the Dutch capital.

Amsterdam Central Station

This hub for transport across the Netherlands is the first place most people come after arriving at the airport. Convenience aside Central Station is a striking building in its own right and a continued testament to the ingenuity of designers Pierre Cuypers and A. L. van Gend. The plans of these men to situate the station in the centre of the harbour were extremely controversial but construction went ahead anyway in 1882. Now the building is used by 250,000 people each day and any controversy is long forgotten. The roof is supported by 40 metres of cast iron which was created by Englishman Andrew Handyside.

The Anne Frank House

Anne Frank wrote her famous diary during the Second World War as she hid from Nazi persecution. Together with her family she lived in secret rooms concealed in the back of a building on the Prinsengracht canal. This area has since been converted into a museum where visitors can learn about Anne’s life as well as exhibitions on different forms of discrimination and persecution. This building is a powerful reminder of one of humanity’s darkest chapters and so it is an important stop for any traveller.

Museum Van Loon

This canal side museum is dedicated to former occupants the Van Loon family. The family are responsible for collecting the variety of artworks that are now on display. The building has been restored to the condition enjoyed by these previous owners, one of whom was lady in waiting to the Queen of the Netherlands. The interior boasts period designs including stucco work and 18th century wood panelling. As well as a rich range of Romantic paintings visitors can inspect a pair of fake bedroom doors that obscure the real doors disguised as part of the wall.

The East India House

This national monument was once the headquarters of the Dutch East India Company. This group date from 1602 and are often described as the world’s first multinational corporation. Visitors can see the place where Asia was carved up by colonial powers as the company established colonies, coined money and waged wars. Over time a spice monopoly gave way to corruption and the company fell but the grand meeting room has been restored so that people can remember the events of the past. A multitude of paintings are also on display as well as an inner courtyard decorated in the Amsterdam Renaissance style.


This theatre was created in 1921 by Abraham Tuschinski. Visitors are made to feel that they have stepped into an illusion as they marvel at painted murals and stained glass. A tribute to the Art Deco style the building is widely acknowledged as one of the world’s most striking cinemas. Tuschinski himself was a Jewish tailor who would be killed in the concentration camp at Auschwitz but the legacy of his creation remains. Films and live events can still be seen but may be outshone by the beauty of the building itself.

From vibrant art to restored fragments of the past there is a wide variety of cultural experiences to be enjoyed, and with cheap flights to Amsterdam available it’s an affordable city break. Visitors to the city are guaranteed a stimulating and enjoyable experience whichever of these fantastic sites they choose.


Chris Brown is a freelance travel writer.

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