From the floating villas of IJburg to the minimalist cement houses of Betondorp, Amsterdam has some very interesting neighbourhoods to explore for those who love architecture and history.
The 5 best neighbourhoods to admire in Amsterdam
‘Abandon all hope, he who grows up here’, that’s how the famous Dutch writer Gerard Reve described Betondorp. He wrote about this neighbourhood in his 1947 novel De Avonden (The Evenings). Other famous inhabitants include the football player Johan Cruyff and the photographer Ed van der Elsken. The 1920s minimalist houses are built from cement because bricks were too expensive at the time. Betondorp inspired the German Plattenbau.
2) Tuindorp Oostzaan
This extension of the city was built around 1920 on the northern shore of the River IJ to provide housing for the growing population of labourers. In North, there were two large shipyards at the time. The workers lived nearby in these small low-rise houses, centred around Zonneplein. It’s still a close-knit community, where you can still hear the real Amsterdam accent and dialect. There’s a 1920s museum house on Meteorenweg 174.
IJburg is a string of artificial islands that are under construction, and showcases some of the best and worst in modern architecture. You’ll find some surprising houses around Steigereiland Zuid where a lot of creatives built their homes. Check out the floating villas at Steigereiland Noord. At the far end of IJburg you’ll find De Witte Kaap, Amsterdam’s take on the Flatiron Building, near Blijburg beach.
In the mid-nineties, a car-free and eco-friendly neighbourhood was built on the former site of Gemeentelijke Waterleiding (the city’s waterworks). Both the municipality and the neighbours wished to create sustainable homes in a healthy environment: green roofs, recycle rainwater, and lots of green areas. Some of the old buildings have survived, such as the water tower and the machine room, where you’ll find cafe-restaurant Amsterdam.
The ‘Dubbeltjespanden’ (dime buildings) are an early example of social housing in Amsterdam. This intimate row of houses (just off the busy Mauritskade) was built in 1870. The cheap but well-built homes provided an alternative to the overpriced hovels many labourers lived in at the time. They paid a dime every week to the first Dutch cooperative housing association. This street was completely renovated in 2012.
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The 500 Hidden Secrets of Amsterdam reveals off-the-beaten-track places and interesting details for anyone who's keen to explore Amsterdam's best-kept secrets.
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