Amsterdam Sights

De Balie

centre for culture and politics

In 3 attractive halls, on an almost daily basis, debates, seminars and theatre and film performances take place regarding cultural, social and political issues, right in the middle of one of the most touristy squares in Amsterdam. Also located in the building are a café and a restaurant.


De Balie provides an authentic alternative to the more commercial atmosphere of the Leidseplein. De Balie was founded in 1982 by Felix Rottenberg and is situated in the previous District Court (a real 'balie'), dating back to the 19th century, in the city centre near the Leidseplein. He wanted to provide an informal atmosphere for public debates on current issues - and this is exactly what De Balie has been doing ever since.

Wining & Dining

De Balie is quite a decent eating establishment, offering standard lunch menus and reasonably priced evening menus. The restaurant provides 'modern yet classic' menus, served in a semi-private entresol for more intimate dining.

De Balie Grand Café - Restaurant in the foyer

Talk with your mouth full

But one really goes to De Balie for the atmosphere. Convivial and accessible, the café has an inviting vibe, with its tall ceilings and windows, wide rooms and ever-changing photographic exhibitions reflecting cultural and social atmosphere it decorates. It is a popular meeting point for meeting up with a friend before a film, leafing through a newspaper, eating a pastrami sandwich, unabashed eavesdropping, or - better yet - blatantly joining in discussion with the table next to you. And these discussions intensify in the evenings, when coffees are joined by beer, wine & cocktails and the normal sounds of chit-chat become music to your ears.


While the café may provide a great backdrop, the real heart of De Balie beats in its theatres and meeting halls. The café transforms into a cinema, theater, salon, media centre or publishing house on any given week. Around 450 events are held annually, focusing on political, cultural and social issues designed to stimulate open discussion. On any given night you will find yourself surrounded by a mix of writers, politicians, artists, intellectuals and students. Many influential speakers and thinkers made their names at De Balie.

Late Night Café

On Thursday, Friday and Saturday night from 22:00 to 03:00 you can have a dance at 'De Balie Draait', with different DJ's in the foyer each week.

De Balie is a cultural melting pot accessible to everyone, from all walks of life - whether you want to engage in the hottest, most controversial topics, or start your own revolution over a cup of coffee.

For political lectures, philosophical discussion evenings and theatre performances

De Balie
 click on image to enlarge map

De Balie

Kleine Gartmanplantsoen 10
Amsterdam (Leidseplein)

official website

Opening hours
De Balie Grand Café

Sun 10:00 - 01:00
Mon 09:00 - 01:00
Tue 09:00 - 01:00
Wed 09:00 - 01:00
Thu 09:00 - 01:00
Fri 09:00 - 03:00
Sat 10:00 - 03:00

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