Anne Frank House, Prinsengracht 263-267, 1016 GV Amsterdam, Netherlands
Everyday in Amsterdam we walked past the Westerkerk bell tower, one of the few physical landmarks of the city because it stands high above all else.
When the bells would ring I’d find goosebumps on my arms, knowing I was hearing the same sounds that Anne Frank did when she was locked up in the secret annex. It’s hard to imagine such a different time existed walking around Amsterdam today as free as a bird. Though it wasn’t too long ago that one little girl, among millions, would find her life cut way too short.
Anne Frank’s diary captivated the world, I remember coming of age and reading it myself. Being in the tangible space, walking through the movable bookcase to where she wrote those words was surreal.
You won’t find the annex as it was during the war. The rooms are empty, because when the Jews were deported all of their belongs would have been stripped. Otto Frank wished for the space to remain this way. Still, you can look at a layout of how things would have been on a small model, Anne’s posters are still up on the wall, and you will see actual diary pages on display.
On a practical note, the lines for this must see historical are as astronomical as you may guess. It is essential to buy tickets online.
“I don’t think of all the misery, but of all the beauty that still remains.” -Anne Frank
Begijnhof, Begijnhof 30, 1012RM Amsterdam, Netherlands
Amsterdam’s secret garden was once a home for the Begijntjes, a sisterhood of women who cared for the sick dating back to the 14th century. The small courtyard had two entrances that are hidden from the outside world, if you don’t know what you’re looking for.
Within you must be quiet and respectful as the homes are still inhabited.
Take in the peaceful space and a moment’s reprieve from the bustling city.
Look for the wooden house built circa 1420, the oldest in Amsterdam.
Schreierstoren, Weeping Tower, Prins Hendrikkade 94-5, Amsterdam, The Netherlands
I’ve always lived within a stone throw from the Hudson River in New York. For years I worked on a ship in the river, rafted and swam in its waters, and hiked beside it reveling in the bountiful wildlife. I often pass the town of Half Moon on the highway and I’ve even been on a replica of the historic ship itself. It’s safe to say I have a connection with Henry Hudson, the intrepid explorer of old.
When I heard that Amsterdam was the location that he set sail, I was excited to see the spot itself – where the world as I know it today sprouted from.
The tower is short and stout, once part of a medieval city wall built in the 15th century. Today it houses a café and bookstore.
Dam Square, Dam, 1012 RJ Amsterdam, The Netherlands
The historical center of the city is a busy place, crisscrossed with tram lines! Visit to see the neoclassical Royal Palace, completed in 1655.
Beside the palace is the gothic Nieuwe Kerk, or new church. Walk around the back of the palace to discover an excellent statue of Atlas holding the heavy world on his shoulders.
Standing tall across the way is the National Monument, made of white stone, dedicated to the victims of World War II.