Where would you least expect a quiet garden surrounded by beautiful old canal houses? Not in the center of the Amsterdam shopping district, yet this is exactly where you can find one. Parallel to the Kalverstraat and next to the Amsterdam Historical Museum is one of the oldest canal gardens of the city: the Begijnhof.
Begijnen were women who devoted their life to religion, but enjoyed a little more freedom than nuns. In this quiet courtyard, where they lived until 1971, you can learn more about the history of Amsterdam and get a glimpse of what it must have looked like in the old days. Relax on one of the benches, soak up the peace and quiet of the place and imagine Amsterdam in it’s golden age. Escapism avant la lettre!
Next to the Begijnhof is the Gallery of Civic Guards. In this gallery, you’ll find some schutterstukken, paintings of dignitaries of the Dutch Golden Age. The most famous one in this genre is Rembrandt’s Nightwatch at the Rijksmuseum, but in this free museum you can find some other fine examples of this style.