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Travel to Amsterdam

 
 

Jordaan, Amsterdaam

29 June 2015

Words & Images: Kaye Martindale

Arguably the most beautiful neighbourhood in Amsterdam, Jordaan manages to be both achingly cool and picture postcard pretty. It has wide leafy boulevards that are perfect for casual strolls, canal side terraces that are made for coffee drinking and people watching, as well as labyrinth backstreets that invite capricious exploration. It hasn’t always been so inviting. Built in the 17th century to house the city’s influx of immigrants, the area’s canals were open sewers and overcrowding was a serious issue. It remained a working class neigbourhood until the ’70s when many of the buildings became derelict. The area was saved from the bulldozers, and taken over by artists, before the city’s wealthy and urban professionals moved in.

Now the area is home to some of the most expensive real estate in Holland and most visitors to the area daydream about how it would be to live in one of the quaint gingerbread-style apartment buildings that overlook the cobbled streets and canals of the Jordaan. Despite being a popular area with tourists, it retains the feeling of being a living breathing part of the city due its plethora of independent eateries, unique stores and vibrant local scene.

TORCH GALLERY

Tucked away down the quiet Lauriergracht, a wide, leafy residential street, is Torch Gallery. Opened in 1984, it was one of the first galleries to open in the Jordaan area. The gallery was an early pioneer of photography as a form of Fine Art, and has propelled many of the Netherland’s most successful contemporary artists to international fame.

Founded by Adriaan van der Have, who worked as a framer, he felt that there was a market for the photography he’d been framing and took the bold step of opening the gallery. The legacy he started is now continued by his son, Mo, who took over in 2009. Mo says that despite being different people they both seek new forms in art that are “beyond the standard and conventional”.

Lauriergracht 94
Amsterdam
+31 20 626 0284
torchgallery.com

GALLERY RON MANDOS

Located on Jordaan’s main canal-lined thoroughfare, Prinsengracht, the Gallery Ron Mandos prides itself on its changing exhibitions that showcase the work of established and emerging contemporary artists. Unusually for Amsterdam they have a huge gallery space, which means they are one of the only commercial galleries in the city that can host large-scale installations.

It’s almost impossible to pass by the gallery’s huge street level windows without being drawn inside to explore spine-tingling sculptures and arresting paintings. In 1999 Ron Mandos opened a gallery in his home in Rotterdam. After achieving success there he opened a new gallery in Jordaan in 2008, by which time the neighbourhood was established as the favoured art district of the city.

Prinsengracht 282
Amsterdam
+31 20 320 7036
ronmandos.nl

D & A

This hummus bistro has a nature-inspired minimalist décor with pristine white walls and generous splashes of green provided by delicate sculptural plants. The clean, fresh design of the interior is matched by the dishes on offer: a simple and healthy selection of Arabic-inspired hummus with a strong emphasis on quality ingredients used in traditional methods.

They offer a variety of hummus flavours, along with typical Arabic dishes such as baba ghanoush and shakshouka. One of the newest additions to the Jordaan area, it’s the only hummus bistro in the city and was created by two best friends who were missing the taste of home. They decided to leave behind their careers in advertising and photography and realise their dream.

Westerstraat 136
Amsterdam
+31 20 341 6487

FROZEN FOUNTAIN

Frozen fountain is a huge design store located at the edge of Jordaan. With a wealth of established and respected national designers to draw from and its close relationship to the most important art academies in the country, Frozen Fountain is at the cutting edge of all new developments in Dutch design. As well as giving new and established designers a platform to sell their work, it also hosts exhibitions and displays original artworks.

This tardis-like store looks small from the outside but stepping through its doors reveals a labyrinth of stairs, twists and nooks where you can find deluxe upcycled furniture, sculptural fabric wall hangings and handmade comic curios. Their close links with designers also mean that they can arrange bespoke design commissions.

Prinsengracht 645
Amsterdam
+31 20 622 9375
frozenfountain.nl

KOFFIEHUIS 'DE HOEK'

Amid the traditional Dutch architecture the Koffieehuis ‘de Hoek’ – the coffee house on the corner – blends in perfectly. The owners Harry and Laura have tried to stay true to the working class roots of the neighbourhood, and the result is a small and sweet little place, ran by their daughters, Iris and Ruby, where locals and tourists alike vie for a table.

In keeping with the quaint, neighbourhood feeling of the café, they offer a selection of ‘Local Hero’ dishes – meals that have been created by frequent requests by their regular customers. Our advice is to try the ‘Andre’ – a hearty breakfast that was introduced to the menu by Andre Mannaart, a famous Dutch kickboxer and Koffiehuis ‘de Hoek’ regular.

Prinsengracht 341
Amsterdam
+31 20 626 0830

THE PIANOLA MUSEUM

As soon as you step through the doors of the Pianola Museum, you’re transported from the busy streets of Amsterdam into the calm and cloistered world of a Victorian parlour room. The pianola, an automated form of piano, was popular at the turn of the 19th century but fell out of favour some time ago. The museum is the only one of its kind to celebrate this forgotten instrument.

Although it’s only one room, it’s filled with various beautifully crafted pianolas and tens of thousands of music rolls. Each visitor is treated to a personally guided tour of the museum by the curator, Kasper Janse, and given a spirited pianola demonstration. The Pianola Museum hosts regular classical music concerts and holds special monthly shows of silent movies with pianola accompaniment.
Westerstraat 106
Amsterdam
+31 20 627 9624
pianola.nl

PIQNIQ

With a perfect spot on one of Jordaan’s peaceful boulevards, PiqNiq’s friendly staff will advise you of the delicacies of the day as you take in the charming street view from the terrace or sit inside enjoying the cosy cafe atmosphere. Its name is taken from the French words pique, meaning to ‘choose or pick’, while nique stands for ‘a little something’ – and that’s just what the café provides.

Diners choose from a selection of small yet tempting finger foods to create a kind of sandwich-inspired tapas. Like the finger foods they serve, the café is also bite-sized – located next to one of Amsterdam’s biggest outdoor markets. Ever popular, PiqNiq is perhaps one of the few cafés in Amsterdam that actually requires table reservations.

Lindengracht 59
Amsterdam
+31 20 320 3669
lunchcafepiqniq.nl

BOEKIE WOEKIE

Started in 1986 by six artists, Boekie Woekie is the only bookshop in the world that sells artist-made books. From their small, yet very well stocked, shop they sell all manner of books relating to art, from unique handmade books by artists from all around the world to sheet music for children, to art history relics.

This unpretentious store is a delight to explore and is the perfect place to buy a lovingly handcrafted, one-of-a-kind piece of art. In keeping with the founding member’s egalitarian values, the shop also exhibits and sells affordable art and has a regular programme of artistic and musical performances where they offer a platform for local experimental and contemporary artists to showcase their work.

Berenstraat 16
Amsterdam
+31 20 639 0507

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