Location and History
The Jordaan is the area on the west side of the “Grachtengordel” (known as the belt of canals around Amsterdam). Originally founded in 1612 as the district for working class and immigrants, when Amsterdam was busting out of its seems. It was considered a poor district with small houses and slums where every little room was packed with families and lots of children. The Jordaan got badly damaged during the German occupancy of the second world war and in the 1970-ies got reinvented and modernized by the Dutch government. At this time the district was discovered by a new generation of occupants: artists, student and young entrepreneurs. Now-a-days it is no longer a slum neighborhood, but a district for the rich with lots of boutiques, terraces, restaurants and pubs. The Jordaan has become one of the most sought after locations in The Netherlands.
The Jordaan has a high concentration of “hofjes”. These inner courtyards containing small houses were built by wealthy residents for older widows as a sign of charity. If you experience a walking tour, which is highly recommended, you will find that some hofjes are open to the public while others are occupied by “starving artists”. The Anne Frank House, where Anne Frank went into hiding during World War II, is also located in this area. Anyone with some knowledge of World War II knows the story of Anne Frank and her famous diary. You can visit the house and see how she and her family lived in virtual silence for two years, hoping to escape the hatred of the nazi regim. Open markets are a statement and often a best kept secret in this area of Amsterdam. On Monday mornings, if you come early, to the Noordermarkt, you can still rummage through plenty of stalls and still find a gem. The Westerstraat and Lindengracht are home to fabric markets where you can find fabric from all corners of the world, it is often here that you will find the most “eclectic” type of shopper.
There are many more modern, trendy bars around the Noordermarkt and along side the Westerstraat and the Rozengracht to participate in one of of Amsterdam’s favorite sport: people watching. Don’t lift an eyebrow when you spot young professionals walking by with Tupperware and a bottle of Prosecco. It is also home to many art galleries, particularly modern art, and the entire area is dotted with speciality shops and restaurants. It is a real eclectic mix with old-fashioned community-oriented Jordanes with a vibrant immigrant community of young professionals and affluent families. Walking is the suggested going about in this area, as parking is extremely limited and will cost you a small fortune.
Most of the houses are relatively small with low-beamed ceilings and steep stairs, so leave your stiletto heels at home. Here, you can find properties with great character and beautiful eye for detail. The house prices come with a pretty price tag, but for those who can afford it, it’s a good investment.