On Sunday afternoon, we were keen to see the Oude Kerk (Old Church), Amsterdam’s oldest building, which was consecrated in 1306. The fact that it is situated slap bang in the middle of the red light district added a certain frisson to the expedition although in the afternoons it is fairly tame by the normal standards of these places, or so I’m told. We waltzed past the Old Sailor, alongside another mirror-like canal, then down a few narrow lanes, looking in windows where the inhabitants were obviously too poor to afford many clothes, until we came to the Kerk.
We could appreciate it for its age but apart from that, the style of the interior, while somewhat “grand”, was unusual and not immediately attractive to our eyes. I was intrigued by the heraldic stained glass, possibly denoting wealthy merchants who are buried here.
Finally, a brief description of our visit to the two great museums of Amsterdam: Rijksmuseum and Van Gogh museum.
It was a thrill to be able to see so many original Old Masters at the Rijksmuseum. Of course, their jewel in the crown is Rembrandt and his major works are housed, together with many of his contemporaries, in a Gallery of Honour. Surprisingly, photography is allowed, although I wanted to concentrate on looking at the works rather than photographing them – what an amazing experience.
Then across a wide plaza to the very modern Vincent Van Gogh museum. We sat through an interesting 30-minute lecture on his life and times. There has recently been discovered some more information about his famous ear-cutting episode and the museum has devoted a special exhibition currently to the deterioration of his mental health. What a tragic life, but what beautiful and intense paintings. A real genius, I think.
We were really taken with Amsterdam. We stayed at an excellent hotel, the Westcord Fashion Hotel, which was a little way out of the city but close to a tram station. The city is well-served by trams, making it very easy to get about. It would be good to get back there one day to further explore this fascinating city.