Travel icon: Rembrandt’s Amsterdam
Unravel the Dutch Golden Age in the Netherlands’ cultural centre
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.
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.