Amsterdam full of hidden places

Amsterdam Tourist Information

AMSTERDAM - Hidden behind the stately facades and canals is one of the best kept secrets of Amsterdam. Dozens are ancient courtyards - like a string of pearls - spread through the ancient city. Who takes a look behind the often inconspicuous entrance gates, steps into a completely different world. An oasis of peace and greenery welcomes the visitor.

Our country still has about two hundred yards. Of these, many of them in the provinces of North and South Holland. More than half are found in just four cities: Alkmaar (10) Harlem (19), Leiden (35) and Amsterdam (47), which the latter is the "capital of the almshouses' may call.

Herman Souer (74), fourteen years 'Mee-in Mokum guide' for Guild Foundation Amsterdam, can not get enough. Only too happy he takes those interested on a journey along the "forgotten monuments' that are hidden behind walls and moats.
"Especially Jordan has many courtyards," says Souer while he briskly with the picturesque streets of the former class neighborhood walk into. "Nearly half of all Amsterdam courtyards can be found here. They often lie close together, but you need to know to find them."
Courtyards are typically Dutch and come since the fourteenth century. Most were in the seventeenth and eighteenth century by wealthy individuals. Many courtyards also still bear the name of the founder.

Amsterdam full of hidden places
Amsterdam full of hidden places
So shines behind a nondescript door in the Egelantiersstraat - "so you walk on past" - Claes Claesz. Anslo-almshouse (1626), which is called a Mennonite cloth merchant. This rich citizen actually lived on the Nieuwendijk in the Old Town, but also owned a piece of land in the Jordan. In three cottages Anslo offered shelter to poor elderly, a form of poor relief which was continued after his death. More than two centuries later, had 'his' almshouse nine houses, a total of eighteen houses.
"Charity was one of the main reasons to start a court. But it was the wealthy citizens often for more. By founding a courtyard, they came after their death as a" good person "stand Chronicle" Souer continues .


Might otherwise not just anyone to live in an almshouse. The inmates had to meet certain requirements (drawn up by the founder) meet and surviving example of excellent reputation. Also, it often happened that the women had to adhere to a particular religion, such as Baptist, Lutheran or reformed.
The courtyard of the Anslo-courtyard is a pleasant rest, you do quickly forgotten middle stand in Amsterdam. Everything here is a bit smaller: miniature windows and narrow doors. A narrow passage leads unexpectedly to a second square, where a narrow middle ground adorned with flowers and plants.

Souer: "In all courtyards were used bleaching fields where wet sheets were laid in the sun to get them white With modern devices now we have no more need of these bleaching fields are often made small gardens..."
Amsterdam full of hidden places
Amsterdam full of hidden places
Betty Dijkema (45) from Land More looks from her eyes. "It remains surprisingly At each gate and alley you think.?: Where do I go back I used all ever walked into a courtyard, but had I never really there in the story deepens," said the 45-year-old, who along with a couple of friends on 'discovery' in the Jordan River.
Guide Herman meanwhile steps with big pass by. Despite his origins - he was born in The Hague - Amsterdam has captured his heart. Because Souer as a nurse for many years on the ambulance service was working, he knows almost every street and alley in the capital on his thumb. On every corner, in every building or following the smallest brick knows he tell striking anecdotes.
He recalls at the sight of the old fire station on Prinsengracht the horse of the story, with fire and all, a distant pub stormed. "When the animal was removed, however, reared the inside again And how could it be otherwise;. The cafe is called since then ... The Brown Horse!"


In reading Karthuizerstraat falls in graceful letters "Huys-sit-widows-hofe. Behind the stately façade is one of the largest and greenest courtyards' of Amsterdam, popularly referred to as the Karthuizerhof (1650). To the old bleekveld on four sides are homes built sheltering in the past to widows and their children.
"This 'courtyard' was designed by city architect Daniel Stalpaert and, in the same period as the Royal Palace, built on the spot where stood in the Middle Ages the Carthusian Monastery. The monastery was destroyed by the Beggars in 1572 and set on fire" Souer know. "A gem of seventeenth-century architecture has come in its place!"
Nahed Selim, one of the friends of Betty, was visibly surprised by the many courtyards full of flowers and plants. Still, its current home in the countryside of Groningen, still preferred. "I never knew that Amsterdam has so many courtyards. They are all wonderful," said Selim, who is originally from Egypt.
Most courtyards are basically accessible to outsiders. Nevertheless, the gate of the courthouse-Pieter Jansz Suyckerhoff '(1677) on the Linden at the beginning of the evening are already shut. Guide Herman, however, can not be fooled. A firm pressure on the bubble, followed by the message: "Thea Herman Souer" works wonders. The door opens and occupant Thea comes with her cat in hand, from one of the cottages around the courtyard raced. Because this court still applies evening rest, they have to disappoint its guests. A few minutes later the group again outside.

Was Good

A subsequent attempt to Palmgracht is more successful. A small door with a discreet date stone (1648) above, appears to lead the Bossche- and Raepenhofje. Within the waves were a group of residents and enjoy the tranquility of the garden. "Shhh, they're eating," whispers Herman Souer, while Betty and leads her friends through the narrow alley access. However, his appointment comes too late. Before the ladies themselves have very in, they are - still cheerful chattering - between the white laundry. Once outside the Palmgracht should guide Herman mainly to laugh: "Well, then you should not even live in a monument ..."
Herman Souer has built a collection of 20,000 slides, and images. In addition to tours, he also gives numerous lectures and wrote several books. In 'Mee in Mokum: Walking tours through Amsterdam' he takes the visitor to surprising and historic places of the capital.
by Rick Pullens

Amsterdam hotel tip:

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