There's a surprise waiting in Kleine Gartmanplantsoen park: 40 huge, lifelike lizards nestled in the grass and sunning themselves on the brickwork. It's a surreal sight. Cast in bronze, the life-sized reptiles were created by Dutch artist Hans van Houwelingen in 1994. At the time of research, Blauw Jan has been removed from the park due to the construction of underground parking. The park is expected to reopen in late 2019, although it's unclear if Blauw Jan will be returned to its former place.

The statues are collectively known as Blauw Jan, after an old Amsterdam inn of the same name which, in the 17th and 18th centuries, had a menagerie of exotic animals brought to the port city from faraway lands.

Lonely Planet's must-see attractions

Nearby Southern Canal Ring attractions

1. Amsterdam Pipe Museum

0.11 MILES

This museum is located in the grand 17th-century canal house of the marvellously single-minded pipe collector who gathered this unexpectedly fascinating…

2. Leidseplein

0.11 MILES

Historic architecture, beer, clubs and steakhouses – welcome to Leidseplein. The square is always busy, but after dark it gets thronged by a mainstream…

3. Vondelpark

0.12 MILES

Attracting over 12 million visitors per year, Amsterdam’s favorite playground is the green expanse of Vondelpark, with its 116 acres (47 hectares) of…

4. Hard Rock Hotel Amsterdam American

0.12 MILES

This building is a magnificent art nouveau beast. The founder of the original hotel, Cornelis Alidus Anne (CAA) Steinigeweg had helped establish a Dutch…

5. Little Woodcutter

0.14 MILES

Hidden up in the Leidsebosje parkland's closest tree to the pedestrian crossing on Stadhouderskade (where it intersects with Leidseplein) is an endearing…

6. Rijksmuseum

0.23 MILES

The Netherlands’ top treasure house, the Rijksmuseum (pronounced ‘rikes’), is among the world's finest art museums. With over 1.5km of galleries, it packs…

7. Diamond Museum

0.24 MILES

The extensive bling on display at the small, low-tech Diamond Museum is all clever recreations. You get a lot of background on the history of the trade…

8. House of Bols


Cheesy but fun: here you undertake an hour's self-guided tour through this jenever (Dutch gin) museum. In the 'Hall of Taste' you'll try to differentiate…