The Jordaan neighborhood in Amsterdam is a district that is famous for its nice restaurants, original shops, and beautiful houses. The popular streets here include the Westerstraat, the Prinsengracht, 9 straatjes, and Haarlemmerstraat. When on your Amsterdam tours, do not miss strolling through these streets and wonderful canals, as they perfectly recite why the city is known as the Venice of the North.
The name Jordaan is believed to have originated from the French word that meant ‘garden’. In fact, many of the streets in this district are named after flowers and plants. Yet some people also claim that it was named after the Jordan River.
A Little Bit of History
The Jordaan district was constructed in the 17th Century for housing immigrants and the working class. During the 17th and 18th Century, many refugees from England, France, Portugal, Spain, and many other countries came to Amsterdam seeking better lives. This was because Amsterdam was very much known for its high tolerance towards religious and political beliefs even at that time.
In the beginning, Jordaan was a poor district having a large number of inhabitants living in small houses. During the 1900’s, the population in this district was approximately 80,000 and it created a dilemma due to the lack of sewerage and running water. In fact, the Jordaan district started to perish in the 19th Century due to the lack of maintenance and increase in population. Even in the 20th Century, this district was still a place for poor people and immigrants. Yet by the 1920’s, Jordaan saw an improvement in living conditions due to the better healthcare and hygiene, the conditions were not too good either. In 1930, a big improvement in the neighborhood was made when sewerage was installed.
In the 1970’s, the city council made some serious plans to pull down and replace the district’s big parts with modern flats. The entire region perished, and hence rebuilding was cheaper option compared to renovating. Due to a large protest against these plans, the plans changed. Hence, Monuments Care carried out small projects that can fix up the locality while still protecting the area’s historical characteristics.
By the end of the 20th Century, a huge group of students, artists, and young professionals discovered the Jordaan neighborhood. Now the district has many young professionals as well as original inhabitants, and only around 20,000 people live in the district today. However, the area is becoming more and more costly to live in thereby forcing the working group to move to other places.
There are huge varieties of markets in the Jordaan district. If you would like buying old-fashioned Dutch pots, plates, and linen, you can consider going to the flea market in Noordermarkt on a Monday at 01:00 pm. On Saturdays, food lovers can head over to the Lindenmarkt in Lindengracht or on Mondays to the Westerstraat markets. Furthermore, in Noordermarkt, a biological food market is opened every Saturday.
There are enough stalls, which sell leather accessories and clothes. Yet remember that the earlier you go, the better the things you get.
Westertoren tower is a famous landmark of the district. It is said that you can see the attractive tower and hear the bells ring from anywhere in the Jordaan locality. You can also climb the tower to get a mesmerizing view of the city.
Though most natives think that the Westerkerk church accompanying the Westertoren tower is the major church in the district, Noorderkerk built in 1623 is the main one. You can visit both the churches and enjoy concerts that are held there at times.
You can go to the Museum district or Museumplein if you wish to visit a big museum, because Jordaan has only small museums. Here, you can go to Electric Lady Land Museum that is a fluorescent light museum, or the Pianola Museum housing old mechanical pianos, or a museum of the writer Theo Thijssen.
Popular artists like Manke Neils, Willy Alberti, and Johny Jordaan sang many songs to show their passion for Amsterdam and its neighborhood by romanticizing the harsh life in the Jordaan. Their songs are still played in many cafes and pubs. Furthermore, every year a music festival called Jordaan Festival is held at the Appeltjesmarkt.
You will be able to find many ‘hofjes’ in Jordaan, which are literally inner courtyards. These courtyards were built years ago for housing single women as well as old house staffs. You can still visit these beautiful courtyards and houses. Of the total 19 hofjes, the oldest one is the Andrieshofje located in Elegantiersgracht. Some other prominent courtyards are Hofje de Zeven Keurvorsten and Huiszittenweduwenhof. If you are traveling during summer, do not miss free concert called the ‘hofjesconcerts’.