The Singing Neighborhood of Amsterdam: the Scenic Jordaan
Many songs have been sung about this most famous in the Netherlands and finest in Amsterdam neighborhood called the Jordaan. Everything that you’re looking for in the city can be found here, accompanied by local charm, gezellig (you have to learn this word!) vibe and trendy residents.
What’s in a name?
When you discover the wonderful gardens of the Jordaan, you have no doubts that the neighborhood takes its name from the French word “jardin,” which means “garden.” But the truth is that most of the streets there are called after flowers, such as Rozengracht, Anjeliersdwarsstraat and Goudsbloemstraat.
The history of the Jordaan starts at the 17th century, when it was a singing but quite poor neighborhood of immigrants and the working class living in small houses. If you think that it’s not really how the modern Jordaan looks like, you’re absolutely right! In sixties it has gone through major changes and a grand reconstruction, which came together with gentrification and therefore, new residents. Today the Jordaan is full of young entrepreneurs, artists and wealthier students, who fill in lots of new galleries, brown cafes and hip stores. What once was the district of the folksingers Johnny Jordaan and Andre Hazes, the painter Rembrandt van Rijn and the writer Theo Thijssen, is now a great combination of a narrow streets labyrinth and canals of the past and the contemporary chic of the present.
The beauty of the very special Jordaan is enhanced by the large amount of inner courtyards (the Dutch call them hofjes) with gorgeous gardens and old little houses. Lots of them date back to the 17th and 18th centuries, when they were offered for older women as a sign of protection and charity. You can find the Jordaan courtyards behind the buildings at the street side so all you need to do is to check whether the door is open. If it is, don’t hesitate to come in, but please be respectful and nice towards local community there. Although some of the inner gardens might be closed, they will be open for public on Open Monuments Days or for free hofjesconcerts on Sundays in summer. Some of the prettiest courtyards of the neighborhood are Looyershofje at Nieuwe Looiersstraat 20-40, Sint Andrieshofje at Egelantiersgracht 105-141 and monumental Venetiaehofje at Elandsstraat 104-142. Make sure to sneak in these hidden gems of the Jordaan.
Interesting finds at the market
When strolling the old streets of the Jordaan, make sure to stop by its scenic authentic markets. When you see a remarkable Noorderkerk (the main church of the neighborhood), you know that you are on the right spot. You will find an inspiring flea market on Mondays and an organic local farmer’s market on Saturdays, which is perfect for trying all good Dutch foods and delicacies. You should also discover a general market on the Westerstraat on Mondays and a very old neighborhood Lindenmarkt on Saturdays, where you can find all you can think of.
You are what you eat
Some of the best traditional Dutch cafes can be found in the Jordaan, where you can still often hear the sing-a-longs and try some nice local cuisine. The brown Café Nol is packed with locals at night, so you have a nice chance to mingle with them there. The choice of good restaurants of the Jordaan ranges from the most affordable Piqniq (great for a Dutch style lunch) to almost Michelin starred dining at Daalder with its unique 7-course surprise chef’s menu. And of course, you cannot leave Amsterdam without visiting cozy
The artsy Jordaan
There are numerous art galleries in the Jordaan for all tastes and preferences, where the local artists share their creations for admiration or sale. Many art studios are also located in the neighborhood, and the good news is that you can come inside and meet the artists. A special “Open Studio Event” is about to take place from 14 to 16 May, when the creative bourgeoisie will open their doors for public. It happens only once per 2 years, so make sure to use this opportunity! And if you leave your heart in the Jordaan, the must visit event is The Jordaan Festival this summer (from 26 to 28 August), when you will see the real singing district with lots of Dutch folk music and locals having a good time.
This post is also available in: Dutch