Six monuments you must see in the centre of Amsterdam
The Dutch capital is an iconic city full of culture and history. A day’s walk through the centre is bound to hit you with interesting sights, remembrances of past events and memorials to interesting people.
Several monuments, in the form of statues and other artworks, can be found in the most famous streets around the centre of Amsterdam. If you are headed to the centre, then odds are you’ll walk right by them!
Here is a short list of monuments you might very well see, with some information about them, so that you’ll know what you’re looking at!
› National Monument, Dam Square
1956. Designed by J.J.P. Oud
One of the most iconic sights you’ll come across in Amsterdam is the National Monument on Dam Square. This World War II monument is a national memorial to those who perished in armed conflicts.
Every year on Remembrance Day (May 4), this monument is the focus of a ceremony to commemorate victims of war.
Representations in the National Monument
The 22 metre high white conical pillar has a relief entitled De Vrede (Peace). It consists of four chained male figures, representing the suffering endured during the war.
Sculptures surrounding the pillar include two men representing members of the Dutch resistance, a woman with a child in her arms and doves flying around her representing victory, peace and new life, and two lions representing the Netherlands.
The back of the monument contains a wall with 12 urns inside, filled with soil from various war grounds.
On the monument you’ll find the Latin sentence: "Hic ubi cor patriae monumentum cordibus intus quod gestant cives spectet ad astra dei", meaning: "Here, at the heart of the fatherland, may this monument which citizens carry in their heart, gaze at God's stars".
› Rembrandt statue, Rembrandtplein
1847. Designed by Louis Royer
The Rembrandtplein, located between the Amstel and the Herengracht, is a much beloved spot for its nice atmosphere and terraces. There you will find a statue of famous painter Rembrandt Harmensz. van Rijn (1606-1669).
Rembrandt represented with his painter's tools
This cast-iron version of Rembrandt is a fine example of 19th century Dutch sculpting. It shows him standing and holding his painter's tools: a stylus and a painter’s palette.
The front of the base says "Rembrandt", and the back says "Hulde van het nageslacht, anno 1852" (Posterity's hommage, of the year 1852).
At the statue's feet are a whopping 22 more familiar figures! Rembrandt's famous Night Watch can be seen in full-sized bronze sculptures; a real sight to behold.
› Homomonument, Westermarkt
1987. Designed by Karin Daan
The Homomonument on the Westermarkt commemorates all homosexual men and women and members of the LGBT community who have been persecuted because of their sexuality. It is located near the historic Westerkerk church.
The design of the Homomonument
The monument takes the shape of three pink granite triangles, based on the design of the triangles that homosexuals were forced to wear in concentration camps during WWII.
One of the triangles borders on the banks of the Keizersgracht and is partly suspended above the water.
Another notable monument you’ll find on the Westermarkt is that of Anne Frank, whose house is nearby. She can be found next to the famous Westertoren.
› Auschwitz monument, Wertheimpark
1977. Designed by Jan Wolkers
The Auschwitz monument can be found in the Wertheimpark, the oldest park in Amsterdam. It is located next to the Hortus Botanicus, Artis and the Waterlooplein Market.
This monument commemorates those who perished in the Auschwitz concentration camp. Every year, a remembrance ceremony takes place by the monument on the last Sunday of January.
Never again Auschwitz
Jan Wolkers, the designer of the Auschwitz monument, is a famous Dutch writer and designer. The image he created consists of broken mirrors and the inscription "Nooit meer Auschwitz" (never again Auschwitz).
The sky is reflected in the shattered mirrors, symbolising the idea that the heavens will never again be uncorrupted after the atrocities of the camp.
› Spinoza statue, Zwanenburgwal
2008. Designed by Nicolas Dings
In the beautiful Zwanenburgwal, between the Amstel and the Nieuwmarkt, you can find one of the greatest thinkers of the 17th century, immortalised near the place where his house used to be.
The thoughts of Baruch Spinoza (1632-1677) centered around the freedom of the individual, tolerance and freedom of belief, and can function even today as the basics for the survival of our ever changing society.
A symbol for cultural diversity and freedom
The image of Spinoza is mounted on a pedestal on an elliptic podium, giving off a grand yet modest vibe. He is adorned with flowers and birds, symbolising the cultural diversity of Amsterdam.
The podium reads the inscription "Het doel van de staat is de vrijheid" (The goal of the state is freedom).
› Equestrian statue of Queen Wilhelmina, Rokin
1972. Designed by Theresia R. van der Pant
On the Rokin, part of the Amsterdam shopping district at a five-minute walk from Dam Square, you will find the equestrian statue of Queen Wilhelmina.
Wilhelmina (1880-1962) was the longest reigning Dutch ruler ever. The funding for the statue was raised by the population of Amsterdam.
Wilhelmina as a young queen
The bronze statue is mounted on a similarly bronze pedestal. Wilhelmina was a young queen when she started, and that is how she is depicted.
The designer, known mainly as a sculptor of animals, chose to portray her astride a horse because there already were more static depictions of an older Wilhelmina.
What are your favourite Amsterdam city centre monuments? Let us know in the comments below!