From 17th century brick buildings inspired by Gothicism and French classicism to ultra-modern buildings that would make even London’s Gherkin blush; Amsterdam’s architecture seems to come at you from all angles. In fact, rotting wooden foundations have made many buildings list threateningly, and architect Renzo Piano has even built a museum that looks like it’s sinking in the middle of the bay. Many local Dutch have observed that Mr. Piano’s building resembles a sinking ship. Unfortunately, Mr. Piano doesn’t agree—he says the building’s design is a mirror image of the underwater highway that runs beneath—and the legendary architect refuses to ever build anything again in Amsterdam. Below is a photo tour of my favorite buildings in Amsterdam.
This building, built by Renzo Piano, rises from the water right were the IJ freeway goes under the bay. The freeway doesn’t resurface until it reaches the North Amsterdam neighborhood—a mile away. NEMO is actually green, but nighttime lighting makes it look straight out of a SciFi flick. Inside, you’ll find the largest science museum in The Netherlands.
The Dutch gable is one of the defining features of Dutch architecture, and there are several different types. From left to right: bell gable, neck gable, clock gable, step gable.
For The Netherlands, the Golden Age was the 17th century, and most of Amsterdam’s impressive architecture dates to this era. Unfortunately, not all architects planned for the future, and today it’s easy to tell which buildings have rotting wooden foundations.
Displaying Amsterdam School-style architecture in all its glory, The Grand Hotel Amrath Amsterdam was originally a shipping house built by a group of successful shipping merchants in the 15th century, and today it is one of the best examples of Amsterdam School-style architecture in Amsterdam. The outside features astoundingly intricate brickwork and wrought ironwork with sculptures organically incorporated. Make sure to tour the inside of the hotel, where the fastidious architecture continues and where paintings and sculptures amassed by the original merchant owners are still on display.
Consecrated in 1306, De Oude Kerk is the oldest church in Amsterdam; it is located in the Red Light District. Look down in front of the church’s main entrance and you’ll find a riské artwork installed in the sidewalk. It was installed by an anonymous artist. Many of Amsterdam’s wealthy were buried beneath the church’s floor, and it’s rumored that the phrase “the stinking rich” originated in Amsterdam: the tombs smelled terribly during church services. This rumor finds little credence.
The Eye opened April 5, 2012, making it one of the most recent additions to Amsterdam’s architectural landscape. The building’s multiple angles catch the light differently throughout the day, and at night an eerie blue eye is illuminated on the roof.
These buildings stand at an angle to their surrounding buildings, giving residents better views of the bay.
This is just a taste of Amsterdam’s stunning architecture, and there’s no better way to see it than in person. In particular, touring the city by canal boat is a great option.
Written by and photos by Mattie Bamman for EuropeUpClose.com