Even if you know me just a little, you know that I am just the greatest sucker for hidden gems out there. And that might still be an understatement. Call it a hobby, a passion or even a destiny if you will, it all comes down to the simple fact that I love spending time wandering around and discovering new things. ‘Cause even after all those years, if you just try, Amsterdam never ceases to amaze you.
A peaceful and green hideaway in the heart of town sounds just lovely, right? Well, I can tell you that there are quite some around in Amsterdam, called courtyards. Courtyards are a typical Dutch phenomime and were built since the 13th century on. A nice little stroll to visit these little green areas of simple beauty and silence are one of my favourite things to do these days. So today, I thought I’d share the real hidden gems around the Jordaan with you lovely folks.
Note: they all have a fascinating and very extensive history, I’ll try and keep it really short, but for the history lovers, you might be interested in looking up a little more background information.
Hofje van Brienen – Prinsengracht 89-133
This courtyard was initiated in 1804 by Arnout Jan van Brienen. It has earned its (official) name (“Foundation Van Brienens Gesticht De Star”) due the brewery that used to be on this exact location. What’s special, next to its beautiful sight, is the large clock that is hanging on the Prinsengracht side.
Sint-Andrieshof, Egelantiersgracht 105-145
Sint-Andrieshof was founded by Ivo Gerritsz back in 1613 and so, and with its beautiful age of 5 centuries, it is the oldest courtyard in Amsterdam.
Claes Claeszhofje, Eerste Egelantiersdwarsstraat 1-5, Egelantiersstraat 26-50
This large courtyard actually originally exists out of two separate courtyards that were put together, namely the “Zwaardvegershofje” and the “Claes Claesz Anslo’s hofje”.
Regenboogs-Liefde Hofje, Tuinstraat 100-102
This courtyard definitely has got the sweetest name of this entire list. The Rainbow-Love courtyard was built in 1806 and has a beautiful gable stone. A little fun fact is that this courtyard now is the home of students that study music, adding some sweet tunes to this little hideaway.
De Zeven Keurvorsten, Tuinstraat 197-233
Same street, different courtyard and more gable stones. This beautiful courtyard has three gable stones that state something about the transistion of this place of the last centuries, as it’s first stone was laid down around the year 1645.
Hofje Concordia Noord, Westerstraat 221-289
Some have a greater name, and some have a greater story in my opinion. This one has the loveliest story as it was originally designed by the architect P.J. Hamer that wanted to design and built affordable homes for the working class on a great and relatively expensive location, in the heart of town.
Karthuizerhof, Karthuizersstraat 87-171
Back in february 1650, on the former grounds of a monastery, the first stones for the courtyard that used to be named Huys-zitten-Weduwen-hofe, were put down. But today, it’s called the Karthuizerhof. It originally was designed with no church or particular motive but by a wish of city architect Daniël Stalpaert.
Suyckerhoff-Hofje, Lindengracht 149-163
This just beautiful(!) courtyard was originally meant for Protestant elderly women and widows. It was designed by Pieter Janszoon Suykerhoff in January 1667. A little special something about the history of this courtyard is that all the of the women were obliged to help each other out in the most ordinary cases.
If you ever happen to stay at my place, do feel free to ask for a little map of all courtyards in the Jordaan. We would be more than glad to help you put together a lovely route. Do please keep in mind that people live in these courtyards, so try to keep it down a little and respect their privacy.
That’s it for today, my dear people. Let me know you think of these lovely little hidden gardens if you have visited or will visit one of these gems. I’m truly curious to hear!
Cheers to a nice stroll!