Below the Surface

Medieval Centre & Red Light District

During the construction of Amsterdam's 2018-opened Noord/Zuidlijn (North–South metro line), more than 134,000 archaeological finds were unearthed from beneath the streets and waterways. Now 9500 of them dating as far back as 2400 BC are stunningly displayed in glass cases between Rokin metro station's escalators (visitors need a valid public transport ticket). Transport, craft and industry, buildings and interiors feature at the southern entrance. Objects at the northern entrance span science, communications, weapons, armour, recreation, personal items and clothing.

Collection highlights include coins (from as early as 1371), ice-skating blades from the Middle Ages, 15th-century padlocks, 17th-century pottery, an 18th-century piggy bank, 19th-century pocket watches and military uniform buttons, a 1922 car radiator cap, 1935 toy car replica of the Bluebird that broke the world land-speed record the same year, and 1980s mobile phones.

Lonely Planet's must-see attractions

Nearby Medieval Centre & Red Light District attractions

1. Rokin

0.02 MILES

South of the Dam, this street is part of the route most visitors take from Centraal Station into town, the name being a corruption of rak-in (inward reach…

2. Kalverstraat

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You're sure to end up on this crowded street at some point. Named after the livestock markets held here in the 17th century, Kalverstraat is now a place…

3. Papegaai

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An unexpected oasis in the sea of consumerism on Kalverstraat, the curious Petrus en Pauluskerk, aka Papegaai, is a Catholic church from the 17th century…

4. Nes

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Beyond the glare of the Red Light District runs this dark, narrow lane, home to theatres for more than 150 years. In 1614 Amsterdam's first bank opened in…

5. Madame Tussauds Amsterdam

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Sure, Madame Tussauds wax museum is overpriced and cheesy, but its focus on local culture makes it fun: 'meet' the Dutch royals, politicians, painters and…

6. Civic Guard Gallery

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Part of the Amsterdam Museum – consider it the free ‘teaser' – this gallery fills a laneway next to the museum’s entrance. It displays 15 grand posed…

7. Nationaal Monument


The obelisk on the Dam's eastern side was built in 1956 to commemorate WWII's fallen. Fronted by two lions, its pedestal has a number of symbolic statues:…

8. Dam

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This square is the very spot where Amsterdam was founded around 1270. Today pigeons, tourists, buskers and the occasional funfair (complete with Ferris…