Walking Tour: Lost in the Jordaan

  • Start Noorderkerk
  • End Johnny Jordaanplein
  • Length 2.7km; one hour

Begin at the Noorderkerk. This impressive cross-shaped church was revolutionary at the time, providing the working-class congregation of the Jordaan with altar views from four transepts. Out front is the Noordermarkt, site of Amsterdam's most attractive boerenmarkt (farmers' market), and a flea market.

Make your way north to Brouwersgracht. As you move west along this 'Brewers Canal', you'll see the old warehouses Groene & Grauwe Valk. At the second drawbridge, turn left into Palmgracht and look out for the red door to the Rapenhofje (at 28–38). This little courtyard was home to one of Amsterdam's oldest almshouses (1648).

South along Palmdwarsstraat you'll pass tiny food shops and restaurants frequented by locals. Note the stone tablet of the white fat pig over the butcher-deli at 2e Goudsbloemdwarsstraat 26. Soon you'll reach Westerstraat, a main drag of the Jordaan, with the Pianola Museum, a weekly clothing market and alluring places for a bite or drink, such as Café 't Monumentje. At 2e Anjeliersdwarsstraat, turn left to enter what locals call the garden quarter of ivy-clad lanes and diminutive squares.

Zigzag your way down to Leliedwarsstraat and continue along until you hit busy Rozengracht. Speciality shops sell silk pillows and colourful kitchenware, among other stock. Rembrandt's sterfhuis (death house) is at 184; the master painter died here in 1669 (look upwards for a plaque marking the spot). The part of the Jordaan on 2e Rozendwarsstraat and around is a mad jumble of styles, and though the winch beams may appear decorative they still see plenty of active duty. Secondhand stores, fancy boutiques and art shops pop up along the way.

Cross over the Lauriergracht, turning left into Elandsgracht. You will find Johnny Jordaanplein, a square dedicated to the local hero and singer of schmaltzy tunes such as 'Bij ons in de Jordaan' (With Us in the Jordaan). There are bronze busts of Johnny and his band, but the real star here is the colourful utility hut splashed with nostalgic lyrics.