The Jordaan is probably the most famous neighbourhood in Amsterdam. Once inhabited by the working class, it has always been famous for the strong community bond created between its inhabitants. Today it is a district frequented by artists and young people, full of restaurants, bars and meeting places. A lively neighbourhood, at the centre of Amsterdam’s cultural initiatives.
The Jordaan district is located west of the central station; the northernmost part of Rozengracht is the most touristic and commercial section, while the southernmost part is a quieter area. The neighbourhood stretches between the Elandgracht, the Prinsengracht and the Marnixstraat and is a melting pot of three-storey houses and inner courtyards built in the Golden Age to provide safe housing for widows and the elderly.
The district has also become famous from a literary point of view because it is here that Anne Frank’s house-museum is located, in which the Jewish girl hid during the Second World War. In the same neighbourhood, the famous Dutch painter Rembrandt also spent the last years of his life.
The development of the district dates back to the 17th century when the working class gradually populated the area. Soon, the Joordan became known for its radical left-wing politics and was the site of many workers’ demonstrations.
During the 1970s, many buildings were in a poor state, but thanks to the strength of the community, the Joordan was able to rise again. At the same time, the neighbourhood grew richer, attracting young professionals.
Today, the people living in the area can be distinguished between Jordanees, i.e. first-generation residents, a vibrant immigrant community and middle-class Dutch families, who have moved in more recently.
The most popular theory on the origin of the name is that it is a derivation of the French word ‘jardin‘, meaning garden: most of the streets and canals in the Jordaan are named after trees and flowers.
Another theory is that the Prinsengracht canal, once nicknamed Jordaan (the Dutch name for the river Jordan), gave its name to the area beyond it.
Old workers’ houses, art galleries, vintage shops and Bruin Cafés overlook picturesque streets where you can wander aimlessly all day long.
The district’s landmarks include the Noorderkerk, a Protestant church designed in the early 17th century where exceptional classical music concerts are organised, and the sculpture group dedicated to Johnny Jordaan, a popular melodic musician of the mid-20th century.
In the Jordaan are the Museum Het Schip, the Houseboat Museum, the Amsterdam Tulip Museum and the Pianola Museum. Not far away are the Anne Frank House and the Westerkerk Church.
The Jordaan has a high concentration of hofjes, or inner courtyards, around which various dwellings face each other. These courtyards were built and financed by wealthy people for local elderly women to provide them with a safe and recreational space.
In the 1970s, most of these courtyards were in poor condition. With the renovation of the neighbourhood in later years, the hofjes were also restored and the surrounding houses became mainly homes for artists, students and some elderly people. Today, some of these courtyards host open-air concerts during the summer, accessible to all.
Walking in the Jordaan, Amsterdam’s most romantic and charming neighbourhood, is definitely one of the things to plan on your trip to the Dutch capital.
Our itinerary in the Jordaan starts at the Noorderkerk Church and continues towards the Brewers’ Canal, the Brouwersgracht, where the old artisans’ warehouses are located.
The labyrinthine streets and small canals of the Jordaan, once the working class and emigrant quarter, are lined with beautiful 3-storey buildings, built in the late 17th century and embellished with flowers and lace curtains, which have retained their original character.
The Jordaan today is inhabited by artists, young professionals and families and is home to numerous pubs and small restaurants where you can dine.
Don’t miss the weekly markets of the Jordaan, the Noordermarkt, the Lindengracht markt and the Werstermarkt, the avant-garde Westergasfabriek cultural centre housed in a former gasworks, and the wonderful Brouwersgracht, the Brewers’ canal, lined with buildings with beak-like facades.
It will not be difficult in the neighbourhood to find a place to sip a beer and eat something typical. More modern bars can be found around the Noordermarkt, an open-air market, and along Westerstraat and Rozengracht. The surrounding streets are then full of small restaurants, offering cuisines of various ethnicities.
Along the side streets running south of Westerstraat are some of the city’s most popular restaurants.
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