Walk Amsterdam’s Jordaan area
Once one of the poorest neighborhoods in Amsterdam, the Jordaan is nowadays a very popular hotspot for locals, hipsters and tourists both Dutch and international. It’s known for its Amsterdam singers like Johnny Jordaan and Tante Leen, as well as for some canonical Dutch series that have been filmed here, like ‘ ‘’t Schaep met de 5 pooten’ and ‘Baantjer’. Popular highlights are the Westerkerk, the Anne Frank House and the shopping area the ‘Negen Straatjes’, which are all technically just outside the Jordaan.
This walk is not about showing you the most obvious spots, though. It’s an intimate walk, trying to point out some of the meaningful and fun details that are easily overlooked in this maze of small streets and canals.
For the sake of brevity we’ve only highlighted eight of them, but you’ll soon find that there are many more along the way. Hopefully this walk can help you to start looking in the right places.
Note: Depending on what day of the week you’re walking, some of the local markets and courtyards in the area might be closed.
Enjoy your walk!
⏱️ Total Walking Time: 30 min
🧭 Directions: Hit this Link, then click the top right corner of the map to open full screen in Google Maps
FYI: the technology behind Google Maps is sometimes a bit shaky, so sometimes you need to click the link more than once, or zoom in to get the route view. Apologies for the inconvenience.
☕ Best Roast en Route: Café Lowietje
This one is for the Dutchies (but everyone is welcome)! The pub where more than 80% of Amsterdam’s crimes have been solved: the local pub of detective De Cock (with C o c k). This pub was indeed the set of the famous ‘Baantjer’ series. You can even find his old hat inside, hanging on the wall.
But wait: where are the windows with the red lights? Well, they couldn’t film in the Red Light District because of privacy reasons so they had to move somewhere else. It’s all showbizz folks.
Younger generations might also recognize this place as the set of André Hazes junior’s clip ‘Leef’. Don’t be shy to go inside. The hosts are lovely and welcoming and it’s still one of those pubs where the tradition of the classical Amsterdam songs lives on:
‘Oooh, kleine jodeljongeeeen!’
Highlight A: A Glimpse of Jordaan’s past
The contrast with the surroundings is quite big. Hidden between a lot of modern architecture, these triplets are one of the oldest houses still standing in the Jordaan, stemming all the way back from the beginning of the 17th century. Picture a Jordaan at the end of the 19th century: slums, filthy canals, muddy alleys and streets… more than 120.000 people used to live here back then. Just in comparison: nowadays a small 13.000 people live in the Jordaan. Most buildings used to be in a terrible state and have been replaced since then by modern housing. Luckily these three survived, reminding us of the immense development this area went through throughout the centuries.
Highlight B: Jordaan Riot (Jordaanoproer) at Noordermarkt
Three women, commoners, remind us of what started here in july 1934: the Jordaan riot. In the aftermath of the Great Depression, more and more people in the Netherlands had lost their jobs. The government however, cut the payment for the unemployed by 10%. People from the Jordaan, who were gravely hit by these measures, started a big protest, which soon resulted in fights with the police and a city wide riot. Several people died and dozens were injured. The riot has since been a symbol of the united struggle against poverty.
Highlight C: Draaiorgels van Perlee (barrel organs of Perlee)
These human size puppets decorate the back of the famous Perlee workshop, which fabricates barrel organs since 1932. For years, barrel organs were an iconic part of the Amsterdam street view, playing their music in busy shopping streets and markets. Recently they have been banned from most public places however, and with it this once proud Amsterdam vocation is on the brink of extinction.
Highlight D: Claes Claeszhofje
‘Hofjes’, or little courtyards, are a common thing in Dutch historical cities. Often hidden behind a simple door, a small gate or an alley, they reveal an extra living area which was usually built for a specific purpose. This particular hofje stems from 1616, founded by a cloth merchant named Anslo who had elderly people living here. Around the corner the path continues through what used to be a second hofje called the Zwaardvegershofje (smith’s place).
Highlight E: De Drie Hendricken (The Three Hendricks)
The Bloemgracht was where the wealthier people of the Jordaan lived. In many ways it felt more like an extension of the upper class canal ring than that of the poor Jordaan. A good example of this are the triplets ‘De Drie Hendricken’. The stained glass, its interior, a wide hall and a nice fireplace shows luxuries most houses in the neighbourhood lacked. At the front of the houses are illustrated tiles with the names De Steeman, De Landman, De Zeeman (the city man, the farmer, the sailor), granting the houses their nickname.
Highlight F: Sint Andrieshofje
Did you find the door? Just push it open! The Sint Andrieshofje (Saint Andrew’s), founded in 1614, is the second oldest hofje of Amsterdam, only after the medieval Begijnhof. It was built for Roman Catholic widows in need. The old water pump you see is from the 19th century. On the location where a small front tile says ‘Vrede sy met U’ (peace be with you), there used to be an original chapel until the 19th century.
Highlight G: The Harmonica player
This happy little statue is one of several that’s been anonymously placed in the city. The artist, only to be known as (F. d. G.), is said to be a doctor by day and an artist by night. His works have been gifted to the municipal government of Amsterdam, under the one condition that his true identity remains a secret.
Other well known statues of his (or hers?) are ’t Boomzagertje, Man met vioolkist and Drie heren in gesprek.
Highlight H: Karthuizerhofje
On the turf of what was once a monastery outside medieval Amsterdam, stands one of the bigger ‘hofjes’, the “Huys-zitten-weduwen-hofe”. It was founded by wealthy merchants who wanted to support some of the numerous widows, who used to be so big in number because of all the daring expeditions overseas during the 17th century. A large tile of a koggeship (merchant ship) above the entrance reminds us of that historical connection.