Discover the many picturesque streets and hidden gardens of the Jordaan
The Jordaan was built at the large expansion of the city in 1612, as a district for the working class and emigrants, like protestant Fleming, Spanish and Portuguese Jews and French Huguenots who mainly settled in the Jordaan.
Aerial view of the Jordaan quarter from the Westertoren - a maze of streets, canals and alleys 〉 Photo: © Jordaanweb.com
It was planned west from the 'grachtengordel' (the main canals: Herengracht, Keizersgracht, Prinsengracht), that were built for rich merchants. Because the street pattern was based on old ditches and paths, it differs entirely from the rest of the old city centre. It is located on walking distance of the Central Station, the Dam or the Leidseplein.
Poor working class neighborhood
It was a poor district with small houses and slums, every little room stuffed with families and lots of children. The entire area was one ghetto with open sewers, canals served for both transport and sewer, and no running water. Around 1900 there lived about 80 thousand people, nowadays about 20 thousand.
Despite the difficult living conditions there was a real fellowship among the inhabitants of this fabous area. One could love and cry due to the circumstances.
The culture of the Jordaan was known all over Holland and it was through the radio and television that in the 50s and 60s singers like Johnny Jordaan, Tante Leen, Manke Nelis, Willy and Willeke Alberti were discovered.
Famous inhabitants of the Jordaan
The famous 17th century German-Dutch writer and playwright Joost van den Vondel (1587-1679) lived in the Jordaan. As a legacy, Amsterdam's biggest park, the Vondelpark, bears his name, as well as his statue in the northern part of the park.
But without a doubt painter Rembrandt van Rijn has been the most famous inhabitant of the Jordaan district. For financial reasons he had to sell his stately residence building at Jodenbreestraat, to move to a more modest accommodation on Rozengracht (still a canal at that time). His studio was at Bloemgracht. Rembrandt died in 1669 and was buried in an unmarked grave in the Westerkerk (Western Church).
Painter and photographer George Hendrik Breitner (1857-1923) used to live on Lauriersgracht 8.
Westerkerk, in which Rembrandt was buried in an unmarked grave
In the seventies a large modernisation was started. By then the district was discovered by a new generation occupants: artists, students, young entrepreneurs. The old inhabitants moved to other neighborhoods and cities like Almere, Lelystad, Zaandam and Purmerend.
Partly by these new inhabitants the Jordaan has changed from a slum area to a district for artist, still living on low rent, and the rich who bought the very expensive renovated houses.
Nowadays the Jordaan is compared to the rest of the town an oasis of peace with a labyrinth of narrow streets and little canals, nice for strolling around courtyards, art studios, and monumental buildings with stone tablets, old-fashioned "brown" pubs, boutiques or galleries.
The Jordaan has 4 different weekly markets. On Saturday you will find the Lindenmarkt, a general market, on Lindengracht and a biological food market at Noordermarkt. On Monday a flea market is organised at Noordermarkt and a nice fabric market (Lapjesmarkt) on Westerstraat.
At Noordermarkt you can visit the Noorderkerk (Northern Church), designed by Hendrick de Keyser in 1620-23.
The Jordaan has a high concentration of hofjes (inner courtyards), beautiful yards with little houses and peaceful gardens. These courtyards were built by rich people for older women: a kind of charity and protection.
At the beginning of the seventies most of these courtyards were in very bad shape, like the rest of the neighborhood. After there restoration they were discovered by artist, students and still some older people.
Today's hofjes residents like their peace and quiet, though, and often lock their entrances to keep out visitors, but some are still open to the public.
Hotels, restaurants and pubs
The Jordaan is a very attractive place to stay overnight. It's a quiet and centrally located area with a rich history. Most hotels are situated in former canal houses that still breathe the historical atmosphere of the old Jordaan.
Borders of the Jordaan quarter
Streets of the JordaanThe most common theory on the origin of the name is as a derivation of the French word jardin, meaning garden. Most streets in the Jordaan are named after flowers.
The Nine StreetsGo Fun Shopping in the Jordaan (shopping route)
Street singersSongs about the Jordaan
Anne Frank House
De 9 Straatjes
Lapjesmarkt patch market
Lindenmarkt large street market in the Jordaan
Maloe Melo house of the blues
Noordermarkt picturesque, triangular square alongside the Prinsengracht
Westerkerk 17th century protestant church in which Rembrandt was burried