This area was rolling countryside several centuries ago. In the 18th century, wealthy Amsterdammers would pass their summers and weekends in large country retreats on a tract of drained land called Watergraafsmeer. There were once around 40 such mansions, but the last survivor is Frankendael, an elegant, restored Louis XIV–style mansion. Its formal gardens are open to the public daily.
Staff hold a free open house every Sunday from noon to 5pm when you can explore the building on your own, or go on a guided tour (in Dutch; it departs at noon). Often there's an art exhibition going on as well. The Merkelbach cafe sits in the adjoining coach house and its patio overlooks the gardens. Be sure to view the house's forecourt with its gushing fountain and statues of Bacchus and Ceres.