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Top Amsterdam Attractions
Though given relatively little marquee space, this is one of the best museums in which to invest your time and attention. Amsterdam's history is engagingly displayed all under one roof, from medieval times until the Golden Age, through the radical '60s up to life in the current millennium.
Not only is this the home of the most widely read Dutch author, but the setting of her famous book. Some might be too haunted by the story's tragic ending to relish a visit, but many can appreciate the foundation's efforts to raise awareness about Europe's anti-Semitic past and discrimination everywhere.
The city's most famous hofje (small courtyard) was established in the 14th century for vow-taking religious women known as beguines. A community of spiritually devout women still inhabits the surrounding homes today, sharing their neat little space with two churches, a famously old wooden house from the early 1500s, and tourists seeking a quadrant of quiet.
No visit is complete without gliding along the 97 km (60 miles) of canal that concentrically ring around Amsterdam. For a standard hourlong daytime cruise, simply walk up to any one of the various boating companies docked in the city center. Inquire further to arrange a private tour, a candle-lit dinner cruise, or any number of special themed sails.
The most obvious enthusiasts here are young gents traveling (or stumbling) in groups, but the Heineken Experience has been suitable for the entire family ever since on-site brewing stopped in 1988. Learn the brand's history, observe beer being made, lose yourself in the 4-D film, and of course, taste-test.
Museum Het Rembrandthuis
The Golden Age master was born in Leiden, though he worked, went bankrupt, and died in Amsterdam. Restored to mirror his daily life, this museum is actually the house where Rembrandt lived from 1639 to 1656. Temporary exhibitions are shown alongside a rotating selection of his nearly 300 etchings.
With a €374 million renovation project rounding off in spring 2013, the state museum, as its name means, is just revving up to show visitors—in a brand new light—7,500 artworks from its 900,000-piece permanent collection. Rembrandt's The Night Watch and The Kitchen Maid by Vermeer are but a couple.
September 2012 marked the official reopening of Amsterdam's sacred altar to contemporary art. What's more, after spending a chunk of the mid-aughts floating around town, the Stedelijk is now back on Museumplein, helping—along with the aggrandized Rijksmuseum nearby—to reestablish the square's cred.
Van Gogh Museum
Two hundred paintings, 500 drawings, and 750 letters by the post-Impressionist make the Van Gogh Museum an imperative stop for even the merely cocktail-conversant among art appreciators. Though for The Starry Night you'll have to hit the MoMA in New Amsterdam, stellar masterpieces abound (as do their souvenir posters and umbrellas).
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