Sunday, May 25, 2008

Hidden Treasures

A few weeks ago I found a pretty neat site that had a list of "to do's" in Amsterdam. There were a million and one categories, one of which was entitled Hidden Treasures. On the site they share information about numerous hidden treasures in the city that one would literally miss unless they know what they're looking for. For example, there is an area here called the Begijnhof, which is an enclosed courtyard of houses, first inhabited by women called Beguines. They were like nuns, except they didn't make vows of poverty and could leave the convent and marry whenever they chose. In the early 1400's there were 2 great fires that destroyed nearly the whole courtyard and buildings. And although the majority of the houses are from Amsterdam’s average housing era (1600-1700), one house from the 1400's remains standing to this day. It happens to be the oldest house in the city, and has gone through extensive restoration throughout its long life. So, although it may have a longer shelf life, it looks newer than its much younger counterparts which only date back 2-300 years. Today the houses are inhabited by your normal every day woman... no men.

Anyway, getting back to my main point, the Begijnhof really is hidden away. You have to know what you're looking for, since there is only a small entrance into the courtyard with an even smaller sign on the door telling one where they are at. Example number two is the Marionette Opera. Located at the end of an alleyway where no one would go down except for the sole purpose of high class puppet-filled entertainment, it too is considered a hidden treasure. It's a well done production and neat to watch how a person can make a wooden puppet appear so life-like, just by manipulating a few strings attached to it. I went with two friends and although it was quite good, we all thought 2 hours was a bit long and it would have been nice to see a little more action scenes... to see what the puppets could really do. We just didn't see a suggestion box.

1 comment:

ReL said...

That is really cool! I've always wanted to see a marionette show. It's amazing that you're finding all these fabulous things to do, hopefully by the time you've been there a full year you'll know Amsterdam inside out.