Welcome to the Jordaan district.
Origin of the name:
Ask anyone in Amsterdam where they think the name Jordaan comes from and they'd quickly tell you that it is as a derivation of the French word jardin, meaning 'garden' probably because most streets and canals in the Jordaan are named after trees and flowers. Another popular theory is that the Prinsengracht canal was once called Jordaan (the Dutch translation for the river Jordan), and that the neighbourhood beyond the canal came to be called this as well.
Introducing the Jordaan:
The Jordaan is a district in the Amsterdam city centre area. This section of Amsterdam is really famous for its beautiful houses, nice restaurants and authentic shops.
The Jordaan is possibly the most famous neighbourhood in the Netherlands. Rembrandt spent the last years of his life in this district, on the Rozengracht canal. He was buried in the Westerkerk (church), at the corner of Rozengracht and Prinsengracht, just beyond the Jordaan. The Anne Frank House is located on the edge of the Jordaan, on the Prinsengracht canal.
Originally a working-class neighbourhood, the Jordaan has become one of the most expensive and affluent districts in the Netherlands. Living or owning a house there is usually associated with being wealthy. It used to be a very poor and overpopulated district with small houses and too many inhabitants but that is all changed now.
It is common knowledge that Amsterdam is and has always been a very tolerant city and the history of the Jordaan bears testament to that. Built in the early 17th century to house the working class and immigrants, this section of Amsterdam became home to a large stream of refugees from France, Italy, England, Spain, Portugal and other parts of Europe. Amongst these inhabitants were also immigrants from countries like Turkey and Morocco who came to the Netherlands to work.
Nowadays, it is home to many art galleries, particularly for modern art, and is always filled with tourists. They love walking down the little streets and taking pictures. Popular streets in the Jordaan are; the Prinsengracht, the Westerstraat, Haarlemmerstraat and the '9 straatjes' (nine streets).
There are markets held regularly at Noordermarkt, the Westerstraat (the Lapjesmarkt textile market) and Lindengracht. In the Jordaan you can visit different types of markets. There is a flea market at the Noordermarkt every Monday morning. It is the perfect place to buy antiques and other household goods. There are also many stalls selling clothes and leather accessories. To buy the best of these goods, try to be very early! For food you can go to the Lindenmarkt at the Lindengracht on Saturdays, or to the market on the Westerstraat on Mondays and even though the Westermarkt isn't really on the Jordaan, this market still remains one to visit. There is also a biological food market at the Noordermarkt every Saturday.
Unlike the Museum square in the Leidseplein area of Amsterdam, there aren't many famous museums in the Jordaan district. However, there are some small museums that are fun to visit and they can be quite busy in the summer periods.
You can visit the Pianola Museum showcasing old pianos. There's also a museum dedicated to the Dutch writer Theodorus Johannes Thijssen and a Fluorescent Light Museum called Electric Lady Land. If you want to learn more about the Jordaan you can visit the new Jordaan Museum that is dedicated to the history of the district.
If you want to learn more about Houseboats and how the Dutch are able to live on these boats, pay a visit to the Houseboat Museum. It's very informative and visitors are taught how these houseboats work (sewage disposal and central heating systems), how people are able to live on them in the winter and what they do when the canals freeze over.
On the border of the Jordaan you can find the Anne Frank House. This museum is situated on the Prinsengracht and is very popular among tourists. It is advised to book tickets in advance (which you can do online) as priority is given to people who already have tickets. There's also the Amsterdam Tulip museum. It's a museum showcasing the history of the tulip, photos & a gift shop with bulbs for sale.
The Jordaan district has always been home to great music. Artists such as Johnny Jordaan (the uncrowned king of the Jordaanlied) and Carel Verbrugge aka Willy Alberti sang of their love for this area of Amsterdam and went on to make the district famous with their songs and their lovely voices. Their songs are still played in many bars and clubs to this day and Jordaan district locals are always very proud to show off their music.
There is also the Jordaanfestival - an open air music festival in August that takes place at the Appeltjesmarkt by the bus station near the Elandsgracht. This festival attracts a lot of tourists who come to see popular Dutch folk singers perform and wow the crowd with wonderful numbers - past and present.
For more information, visit the official website of the Jordaan Festival.
Finally, the Jordaan district has a lot of history and is a very lovely part of Amsterdam. It is a gem of a district with a story to tell in every corner. If you happen to be in Amsterdam, don't forget to pay a visit. You will not be disappointed.