Forget the Red Light District and coffee houses for an afternoon and delve into this quirky market for something to show of your trip to the Dutch capital, writes Ben Storey
While they are staples of Amsterdam’s culture, and surely attractive prospects for many, the Red Light District and the legality of cannabis often overshadow Amsterdam’s numerous other attractions. It is, in fact, a beautiful city, a buzzing cacophony of canals, cyclists and arcane architecture. The Waterlooplein market, nestled in the heart of the city, close to the Amstel River, really epitomises this other side to Amsterdam, which is welcoming, vibrant and eclectic.
Despite being located in the centre of the city, this market remains a relatively unknown attraction to many tourists, and with three hundred stalls, there is something for everyone here – be that antiques, clothing (new or second-hand), shoes, books, fabrics or souvenirs. Whatever you are looking for, Waterlooplein is the spot.
Another attractive aspect of the market is its rich history. It originated as a traditional Jewish Flea market in 1893 and continued to be the most thriving of its kind until the Second World War. Since then, it has remained one of the city’s most exciting trading centres. It is impossible not to gain a sense of this history as one strolls through the market’s narrow walkways, all the while listening to the sound of good, old-fashioned haggling. Not only is it perfect for the alternative shopper, but it is a great way to spend an afternoon – soaking up the fresh vibrancy of the city out in the open air.
The market is conveniently situated, with numerous museums and places of interest nearby, such as the Rembrandt Museum, the Museum of Jewish History and the Gassan Diamond Factory.
This market truly is a gem and is well worth a visit if you find yourself in Amsterdam. Reflecting the personality of Amsterdam itself, it is a brilliant mix of the old and the new, complimented by a wonderfully relaxed atmosphere.