Travel icon: Rembrandt’s Am­s­ter­dam

Wanderlust Travel Magazine (UK) - - Contents -

Un­ravel the Dutch Golden Age in the Nether­lands’ cul­tural cen­tre

Get ori­en­tated

In 1631, a highly promis­ing Dutch painter left his home­town of Lei­den for Am­s­ter­dam. There, he flour­ished, be­com­ing the most fa­mous painter in the cap­i­tal, ex­pert in cap­tur­ing moods in his por­traits. His name? Rem­brandt van Rijn, a man whose iconic art has cre­ated a last­ing legacy.

It was ‘right time, right place’ – Rem­brandt was sur­rounded by like-minded in­di­vid­u­als pros­per­ing dur­ing the Dutch Golden Age (1600–1690), a time when trade, mil­i­tary war­fare, art and sci­ence in the Nether­lands went strato­spheric. Rem­brandt ig­nored ad­vice to hone his craft in Italy, find­ing all the in­spi­ra­tion he needed in Am­s­ter­dam.

To­day, Rem­brandt makes a great guide. Seek out his places and you’ll dis­cover gems oft-over­looked by the reg­u­lar vis­i­tor to Am­s­ter­dam. And with 2019 mark­ing 350 years since his death, there’s no bet­ter time to look at the city through an artist’s eyes. Even if you aren’t a lover of paint­ing, Rem­brandt’s life peels back a side of Am­s­ter­dam rarely seen.

Get­ting there & around

Di­rect flights link Am­s­ter­dam to many UK air­ports; flights take from 65 min­utes. Eurostar (eurostar.com) launched di­rect Lon­don-am­s­ter­dam ser­vices in April, tak­ing un­der four hours. Fares cost from £100 re­turn.

Am­s­ter­dam has an ex­cel­lent pub­lic trans­port net­work (en.gvb.nl). Tick­ets cover the metro, trams and buses; a 24-hour pass costs €7.50 (£6.60), a three-day pass €17.50 (£15.50). Bike hire starts from €9 (£8) for a day’s rental.

The visit

First, head to Rem­brandt’s for­mer home in the city’s Uni­ver­sity Dis­trict, now the Rem­brandthuis mu­seum (€13/ £11.50; rem­brandthuis.nl). It’s an ac­cu­rate recre­ation of how the in­te­rior looked in the 17th-cen­tury, com­ple­mented by ex­hi­bi­tions and etch­ings by Rem­brandt and his pupils.

Guided walks link other Rem­brandt sites. For in­stance, onion-domed Zuiderk­erk (South Church) was a place he fre­quented, while the Waag – Am­s­ter­dam’s old­est-sur­viv­ing gatehouse – fea­tures in one of his paint­ings. In fact, wher­ever you turn in this area of Am­s­ter­dam, Rem­brandt’s legacy is ap­par­ent, in­clud­ing a bronze statue in Rem­brandt Square fea­tur­ing the painter and char­ac­ters from his most fa­mous work, The Night Watch.

Also, do visit Am­s­ter­dam’s Ri­jksmu­seum (€19/£17; ri­jksmu­seum.nl). From 15 Fe­bru­ary to 10 June 2019, it will dis­play the largest col­lec­tion of Rem­brandt’s canon ever in one place, along­side works from other mas­ters from the Dutch Golden Age.

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