When you are staying in a cozy warm hotel, you have to give your best to avoid the snooze button and make the most of the day. Pretty struggle. I have longed for this trip for months, everything was prepared. As you know, I am that kind of person who likes to plan. I guess that I planned everything good except the weather and probably warmer clothes. (more about it another time)
Friends and acquaintances had spun stories of supreme naughtiness that all ended with the same hopeful tribute – “…it is a beautiful city, though” – and I wanted to get to know it…intimately. I have never heard a bad word from anyone who’s visited but I wanted to be able to experience the best of the best without falling into tourist traps. So, it’s safe to say that I was more than a little excited to finally step outside of the hotel!
I immediately fell in love with the architecture and my jaw didn’t stop hitting the floor for the rest of the trip. Amsterdam is like a lighter, airier, waterier, smaller, friendlier version of New York. I like it enormously. I could drift off along the canals for a spot of sightseeing and window shopping for hours. However, being in Amsterdam and not visiting the main museums is like going to pastry store and not buying a candy. That’s why we popped over to Rijksmuseum.
I heard many stories about saving time and buying tickets in an advance, we didn’t get them but the waiting line was about 20 minutes long. Not so scary, although when I asked the ticket handler how much time it would take to see everything inside the museum, she told me it would take seven days. I was a little incredulous until I started looking through the free pamphlet the museum hands out to visitors. The museum is made up of four floors containing art from the 1100’s to present. That is a LOT of art. I have to admit that I’m guilty of skipping some of the rooms that didn’t manage to grab my attention.
At the first floor, there is the painting “The Battle of Waterloo” by Jan Willem Pieneman. It is truly an impressive masterpiece, which had me gazing at it in amazement for quite a while, mostly wondering how the painter managed to work on such a colossal canvas! I walked from one side of the painting to the other with my nose almost glued to its surface, admiring all the colorful details and facial expressions of the soldiers. I have never been one to stand in front of the same painting for hours, but in this part of the museum, you’ll find a lot of people who do.
Going to the next room, I found the bookworm’s dream room for sure – the Cuypers Library. Overexcitement. It’s not only part of the museum exhibition – the visitors and researchers can actually come here and study from some of the oldest art history books in the Netherlands. Pay attention to the details of the thin columns, tiny spiral staircase, and old handles that help you keep your balance when reaching for an old, dusty book. For a moment I felt like in a fairytale, an old movie. Who wouldn’t like to spend the day here discovering?
The next rooms are definitely one of my favorites. It contains paintings from the Romantic era, depicting vivid sea storms, theatrical landscapes, and a dramatic contrast between sunrays peeking through dark, stormy clouds. Here is also displayed one of the most famous Van Gogh’s paintings the “Self-Portrait”. I am definitely his fan.
Heading back down to the lower floors, we found ourselves in the special collections gallery on the ground floor. You’ll find anything and everything in these galleries, from ship models to jewelry and clothing to all sorts of Dutch art. I could easily have spent more time in this area than we had to spend. It was so fascinating to see the many different types of things that were on display. That was one thing I loved about the Rijksmuseum. Even if somebody doesn’t care for paintings, there is something here that will take his interest.
I have a hard time imagining spending seven days touring this place, but I can certainly see why many people recommend you an entire day to exploring the Rijksmuseum. With over 8,000 items on display and a newly renovated interior, if I were to recommend just one museum to visit in Amsterdam, this one would be it. Admission for adults is a bit pricey, but children under 19 are allowed in for free.
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