Amsterdam, with all those lovely windmills still around, aptly called as the Land of Windmills. Windmills are the landmarks of Amsterdam!
It is the capital of the Netherlands, and one of the most popular tourist destinations in all of Europe. The Netherlands is one of the most bike-friendly countries. The country is full of unique architecture, and have a beautiful canal system that no tourist wants to miss.
Most of the canal cruises take around an hour, in which you can explore some of the interesting facts of Amsterdam. Apart from the regular cruise, you also have the hop-on-hop tours available on these cruises.
Planning a Honeymoon? Want to keep your romantic moments intact? Do not worry, you can have a romantic candle-lit tour on those rented cruises.
Amsterdam is famous and hence crowded especially during the seasons of Tulip.
Moving Around Amsterdam
Amsterdam is a city, with very good public transport. You can buy the OV Chip-based pass for a day or two. A two-day card, travel as you like, cost less than 15 Euro. This helps you to pick any metro, tram or bus in Amsterdam. Make sure you make it “beep” both while getting in and out of the public transport.
Of course, the city can also be explored by foot, or more popularly, by bike around the Old Centre, Red Light, Dam Square, Grachtengordel and Museum districts.
Where to Stay?
As I mentioned Amsterdam is well connected with public transports. So, it does not really matter where you stay. But if you are looking to stay closer to the center and explore the common landmarks of Amsterdam like the most museums and other places with a short walk, then look around Vondelpark.
It not right in the center, and so bit calm and quite. But at the same time has good access to the center and station.
Staying here will help to explore the Rijksmuseum & Van Gogh museum which are closer by. In a few minutes of tram or bus, you should be in Dams Square or the Anne Frank House, the place where Anne Frank hid from Nazis during world war II.
Landmarks of Amsterdam to visit
If you ask anyone on what to see in Amsterdam, 90 out of 100 will say Tulip gardens. and will point to a famous place called Keukenhof. Rest 10 will point to the places I mentioned above.
Well, Keukenhof is a beautiful place to spend time visiting those beautiful strips of colorful Tulip flowers. But Amsterdam is not just the canal cruise and above places, it much more than that.
As you may have also noticed, most of the online blogs or portals talk about these common landmarks of Amsterdam as a must visit sites. No second thoughts that these are wonderful. Hey, to be fair, I did visit the common places too.
But, I thought not to add another post to those millions out there on these same locations. So, I thought of adding a less mentioned marvel from Amsterdam.
What was that missing marvel?
It was none other than the Maritime Museum or officially known as the Het Scheepvaart National Maritime Museum.
I was astonished that not many articles were around quoting this amazing museum. So, I decided to write this article mainly covering this museum.
Yes, there are too many blogs & reviews for this city on what to see, what not to. But, comparatively, I did not find much mention of the marine museum from Amsterdam. There were also many reviews talking about “other” numerous museum in the city. And I assume you know why I italicized the word – other.
Right? I know, I know.
If you are still scratching your head of what is this other, then I am sure you are yet to reach 18 years! Wait for your turn kids!
Het Scheepvaart National Maritime Museum
National Maritime Museum is easily reachable from the Central station by foot or a short trip on the bus. You just need to take the bus numbered 22 or 48, and in a few stops, you are in there.
Love to walk and explore the city? It’s a good 20 minutes of walk from the central station.
Why did I love to write about this museum? Is it only because it is the most unexplored landmarks of Amsterdam?
I loved this museum for its history. The wonderful collections they had. It is one of the largest and most notable maritime in the world with approximately 400,000 objects, including paintings, models of the ships, the olden day’s navigation instruments, and oldest maps of the world.
I am sure you will love it when you enter in here. You will discover 500 years of Dutch Maritime history as well as its strong links to today’s society and the society of the future.
The entrance to the museum is with the ticket that costs around 16.50 Euro. Minors go with a 50% discount too. You can actually save some time and also one Euro if you purchase the ticket online from the ticket office.
The museum is open from 9 am till 5 pm. Are you an Instagram fan loving to keep posting pictures and live? Good new to you. You can keep clicking and posting pictures without worries about the phone batteries or charge.
Inside the Museum you have the facility to charge your phones at a nominal cost of 1 Euro!
The museum is fully disable friendly.
The National Maritime Museum is housed in Lands Zeemagazijn (the Arsenal). This historic building dates from 1656 and was designed by Daniel Stalpaert as a storehouse for the Admiralty of Amsterdam.
For centuries, the military navy of Amsterdam kept its canons and supplies in this building. In the middle is a spacious courtyard which is now roofed with a spectacular glass ceiling. The total weight on the ceiling is 160,000 KG of Steel and 40,000 KG of glass. And a full 1200 pieces of glass.
The ceiling is decorated with 868 individually adjustable LED lights that glow beautifully in the night – shown only in the winter days.
When you enter the museum, the first attraction would be the 10-minute show with a simulation program. This program gives the real feel of navigating in the sea on the ship. What a way to start the voyage to the Museum? Don’t miss it.
There is a pleasant surprise at the end of it. Discover yourself, and get surprised. I do not want to play spoilsport in here.
Ship Craftsman Collections
What is common between Greeks, Romans, Vikings, and Dutchmen sailors? They all decorated their ships with paintings, woodcuts, statues, and images packed full of symbolism. These ship’s ornaments do not make a ship sail any better, yet ships have been decorated in all times and in all places.
Even today, you will notice the waters teem with colorful rudder blades, rudderheads, mast shields, mast tips, and bow figureheads.
Arts and Paintings
When you move further, you will be greeted by the lively pictures of different models of the ships and histories. The below picture does not do justice to the paintings hanged out there in the museum.
Have you ever wondered how the sailors were sailing in those dark seas with no Google or GPS back those days?
In the absence of satellite systems like today, right up until the 20th century, ships still depended on the sun, moon, and stars to navigate through the seas. Sailors used the earliest navigational instruments – the astrolabe, the cross-staff, and the back-staff – to determine how far north or south they were from their point of departure.
All instruments worked with the same principle: they measured the angle of the sun (or star) against the horizon.
In this section of the tour, you will also find the olden days maps and instruments used on board the ships. These maps show how Dutch seafarers in the Golden Age found their way at sea.
I remember spending time in reviewing a map that was centuries old. There was a digitalized version of some of the old maps and has options to email portions to your own email id.
There were a good collection of old world maps, and the 68 original Atlas used in the 15th century.
It is time to visit the highlight of the maritime museum is the VOC ship or East Indiaman Amsterdam that is docked outside the building. This kind of ships are used for transport – can sail for almost eight months on sea.
Today, the public can visit the entire ship. Raise load, creep through the hold, shoot a cannon and rest in the hammocks.
You are free to move around all the places inside the deck of the ship.
Here you can see how the crew slept, see the canons up close and taste the atmosphere in the hold.
The Royal Chaloupe, or Royal Barge, can be compared to the golden coach, but in the water. The Royal Barge is as old as the Kingdom of the Netherlands, but still, the barge is well maintained in good condition.
Even though the ship was designed for King William I by Cornelis Jan Glavimans and was built between 1816 and 1818 on the Navy shipyard in Rotterdam, he never used it himself.
King William II was the first to use it during his inauguration in 1841. By now, the Royal Barge has been used some thirty times for state visits and other official occasions. Queen Juliana and Prince Bernhard used the Royal Barge for the last time during the celebration of their silver wedding anniversary in 1962.
Do you know?
The VOC ship Amsterdam is an official wedding location. Yes, you heard me right. Imagine getting your marriage against the unique backdrop of historical and impressive architecture!
What a memorable way to get married in the unexplored landmark of Amsterdam? Isn’t it?
And finally, here is the customary selfie from Amsterdam.