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Sights in Amsterdam

Amsterdam is the lively capital of the Netherlands and has a rich and vibrant history. It has many museums, interesting architecture, beautiful parks, and plenty more to explore.

  • Allard Pierson Museum—a former National Bank that is now home to a museum with archaeological treasures from the University of Amsterdam’s collection from the early development of Western civilization with Roman and Egyptian artifacts and Near Eastern cultures (Anatolia, Persia, and Palestine); Oude Turfmarkt 127
  • Amsterdam Museum—a museum housed in a rambling series of buildings with the Schuttersgalerij (Civil Guards Gallery) filled with portraits of city militias and 21st century versions of civil guards’ paintings; Kalverstraat 92 and Sint Luciensteeg 27
  • Amsterdam Pipe Museum—a museum that illustrates the history of tobacco trading and smoking in Amsterdam with a large collection of items such as prehistoric pipes, smoking gear from around the world, pipe making tools, tobacco wrappers, and vignettes; Prinsengracht 488
  • Amsterdamse Bos (Amsterdam Forest)—a nearly 2,500-acre and 124 miles of foot, bike, and bridle paths crossed by 116 bridge crossings in Amsterdam’s largest park that has large recreational fields, a boating lake, the Olympic Bosbaan rowing course, playgrounds, and water-play areas as well as a goat farm; Bosbaanweg 5, Amstelveen
  • Anne Frank House—the home where Anne Frank and her family as well as the Van Pels family and a dentist moved into and hid in a maze of rooms in the back; Prinsengracht 263-267
  • Artis (Amsterdam Zoo)—a zoo founded in 1838 that has more than 900 species of animals, over 200 species of trees, a butterfly pavilion, and an insectarium as well as the Micropia, the world’s first museum devoted to microbes; Plantage Kerklaan 38-40
  • Beurs van Berlage (Berlage’s Stock Exchange)—Amsterdam’s first modern building and the country’s most significant piece of 20th century architecture that was once a stock exchange and now has room for conferences, collaborative workspaces, exhibitions, and events; Damrak 243
  • Bijbels Museum (Bible Museum)—a beautiful museum with a large collection of Bibles, exhibits on archaeological finds from the Middle East, and models of ancient temples; Herengracht 366-368
  • Centrale Openbare Bibliotheek Amsterdam (Central Amsterdam Public Library)—the country’s largest public library with a large theater, seminar and conference rooms, an art space, and a large music library as well as an incredible international magazine selection, a restaurant on the 7th floor, and over 1000 desks available for study and going online; Oosterdokskade 143
  • Cobra Museum of Art—an art museum with hundreds of pieces by the avant-garde CoBra movement including paintings, sculptures, and ceramics as well as temporary modern art exhibitions; Sandbergplein 1, Amstelveen
  • Eye Film Institute Netherlands—a futuristic-looking waterfront structure that has film archives, four huge screening rooms that show classic and modern films, a permanent display with historical objects and interactive elements from cinema, and a public library; IJpromenade 1
  • Heineken Experience—a museum dedicated to the Heineken beer label that is an interactive visitor center with tours of the former brewery including its vast copper vats and multimedia exhibits and a 4D virtual reality ride that simulates the brewing and bottling process; Stadhouderskade 78
  • Het Scheepvaartmuseum (Maritime Museum)—this former arsenal for the Admiralty of Amsterdam became the home of the Maritime Museum in the 1970s with a glass and steel roof and an interior that has one-room exhibitions each with different themes and items such as maritime objects, paintings, a significant globe collection, nautical instruments, yacht models, and ship decorations and two family-oriented wings with interactive activities such as a sea voyage and an exhibition about whales; Kattenburgerplein 1
  • Homomonument—the world’s first monument to persecuted gays and lesbians that was designed by Karin Daan and unveiled in 1987 and features three huge pink granite triangles that represent the past, present, and future and the points of the triangles pointing to the Anne Frank House, the National Monument on Dam Square, and the COC Center (a gay and lesbian organization founded in 1946); Westermarkt
  • Hortus Botanicus Amsterdam—a botanical garden originally configured as a medicinal garden in 1638 by the Amsterdam City Council before the collection expanded to include exotic plants from the East India Company’s foreign expeditions with 4,000 species of plants in the ornamental gardens, a three-climate greenhouse, and a butterfly house as well as an orangery with a café terrace; Plantage Middenlaan 2a
  • Huis Marseille (Marseille House)—a contemporary photography museum located in a 17th century canal house and the neighboring house that was once owned by a wealthy merchant and now has 13 exhibition rooms that show various genres of photography and thousands of photography books in the library; Keizersgracht 401
  • Magere Brug (Skinny Bridge)—the most famous of Amsterdam’s drawbridges that provides wonderful views of the Amstel and surrounding area and is illuminated at night; between Kerkstraat and Nieuwe Kerkstraat
  • Museum Het Rembrandthuis (Rembrandt House Museum)—a grand home owned by Rembrandt until his bankruptcy in 1656 with a restored interior that has reception rooms filled with elegant furniture and artwork and a small etching studio with a printing press and a line hung with drying prints (the museum owns 260 of the 290 etchings Rembrandt made); Jodenbreestraat 4
  • Museum Van Loon—formerly the home of one of Rembrandt’s most successful students, Ferdinand Bol, this house and its neighbor were remodeled in the 18th century by Abraham van Hagan and his wife Caterina Trapp, and was occupied by the prominent Van Loon family from 1886 to 1960 before a major restoration returned it to its 18th century incarnation and turned it into a museum with elegant salons filled with Van Loon portraits and possessions; Keizersgracht 672
  • NEMO Science Center—a copper-clad building opened in 1997 that was designed by world-famous architect Renzo Piano in a curved shape resembling a ship’s bow rising out of the water and featuring a rooftop café and terrace with the major highlight being five floors of hands-on and high-tech scientific activities for children such as bubbles on the ground floor and experiments in the Wonder Lab; Oosterdok 2
  • Rijksmuseum—one of the world’s top art museums with works by Van Gogh, Rembrandt, and Vermeer and 7,500 other works of art such as Delftware, detailed dollhouses, and the Asian Pavilion; Museumstraat 1
  • Van Gogh Museum—a museum that has the world’s largest collection of Van Gogh’s masterpieces and traces his life history with additional pieces by Gauguin, Toulouse-Lautrec, Monet, and Bernard; Museumplein 6
  • Hermitage Amsterdam—a branch of St. Petersburg’s State Hermitage Museum that shows the relationship between Russia and the Netherlands with temporary exhibitions displaying works from the Hermitage’s collection and a portrait gallery of 17th century Dutch luminaries; Amstel 51
  • A’Dam Tower—a 22-story building with excellent panoramic rooftop views of the city, a four-person swing over the edge, a green-screen for photos, a bar, two nightclubs, a revolving restaurant, and a stylish hotel; Overhoeksplein 1
  • Royal Palace—originally a town hall, this building became a palace in the 19th century with marblework inside including a floor with maps of the world, 51 chandeliers, damasks, gilded clocks, and paintings by Ferdinand Bol and Jacob de Wit; Dam
  • Stedelijk Museum—a museum featuring the collection of its curator Willem Sandberg with a rotating selection of works by Picasso, Matisse, Mondrian, Van Gogh, Rothko, De Kooning, and Warhol with activities for children in the family zone; Museumplein 10
  • Museum Willet-Holthuysen—a canal house built in 1687 and remodeled in 1739 that is named after Louisa Willet-Holthuysen who inherited the home from her merchant father and lived there with her husband; she sold the house to the city in 1895 and inside are displays featuring part of the family’s 275-piece Meissen table service and a French-style garden; Herengracht 605
  • Joods Historisch Museum—a restored complex of four Ashkenazi synagogues from the 17th and 18th centuries with displays highlighting the growth of Jewish enterprise and how it contributed to the Dutch economy and the history of Jews in the Netherlands; Nieuwe Amstelstraat 1
  • Verzetsmuseum—a museum that illustrates German occupation of the Netherlands in World War II through letters, artifacts, and personal stories showing resistance and at times collaboration with Nazi forces with a section on what was then the Dutch East Indies and is now Indonesia; Plantage Kerklaan 61
  • Micropia—the world’s first microbe museum with hands-on exhibits and microscopes to look through with facts on living organisms and how they exist on everyday objects as well as information on viruses; Artisplein, Plantage Kerklaan 38-40
  • Tropenmuseum—a three story collection of artifacts from former colonies including Indonesian shadow puppets and dioramas of tropical life with a hands-on children’s section, a music section, a gift shop, and a café; Linnaeusstraat 2
  • Foam—a prominent photography gallery with spacious galleries featuring skylights and large windows showcasing major annual exhibitions; Keizersgracht 609
  • Nieuwe Kerk—a 15th century late-Gothic basilica with an interior featuring a grand carved oak chancel, a bronze choir screen, a large organ, and large stained-glass windows that is typically used for art exhibitions and concerts; Dam
  • Westergasfabriek—a late 19th century Dutch Renaissance complex that was the western gasworks for the city until 1967 before it was restored into a cultural and recreational park with spacious lawns, a wading pool, bike paths, and buildings housing creative businesses such as advertising agencies and TV production studios with regular festivals, events, dining, and entertainment; Pazzanistraat
  • Het Grachtenhuis—an interactive museum with multimedia exhibits that explore how the canals and houses that line the city’s Canal Ring were built; Herengracht 386
  • Hollandsche Schouwburg—a theater opened in 1892 that was a cultural hub until World War II when Germans turned it first into a theater solely for Jews and then a detention center for Jews scheduled for deportation to death camps; inside are glass panels engraved with the names of deported Jewish families and an exhibit hall with photos and artifacts of Jewish life before and during the war; Plantage Middenlaan 24
  • Amsterdam Tulip Museum—a small museum that provides an overview of the country’s favorite flower through exhibits, timelines, and English films about the history of tulips with a collection of tulip vases and a gift shop; Prinsengracht 116
  • Stadsarchief—a striped building dating back to 1923 that was a former bank and is now home to Amsterdam city archives with displays including the 1942 police report on the theft of Anne Frank’s bike and a letter from Charles Darwin to Artis Royal Zoo; Vijzelstraat 32
  • Huis Marseille—a curated photography museum with traveling shows with varying themes such as portraiture, nature, or regional photography and exhibitions over several floors; Keizersgracht 401
  • Amstelpark—a park created in 1972 for a flower show that occurs throughout the country every ten years with creative garden layouts featuring a variety of flower species, a petting zoo, miniature golf, and a playground; Europaboulevard
  • Hortus Botanicus—a botanical garden since 1638 that flourished as tropical seeds and plants were smuggled by Dutch trading ships and from there coffee, pineapple, cinnamon, and palm-oil plants were distributed; it now features 4,000 species of plants kept in a seed house and a three-climate greenhouse and a butterfly house; Plantage Middenlaan 2a
  • Geelvinck Pianola Museum—a museum featuring a collection of pianolas dating back to the early 1900s, 30,000 music rolls, and a player pipe organ; Westerstraat 106
  • Multatuli Museum—the former home of novelist Eduard Douwes Dekker who is best known for Max Havelaar, a novel about colonialists in the Dutch East Indies, that is now a museum that describes his life and work; Korsjespoortsteeg 20

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Sights in Zagreb, Croatia

Zagreb is the capital of Croatia and has an interesting history explored through museums and art galleries.

  • Arheoloski Muzej (Archaeological Museum)—a museum with exhibits that focus on prehistory to the Tartar invasion with artifacts such as the Vucedol Dove, a three-legged ceramic vessel shaped like a bird that dates back to the 4th millennium BC, and a linen piece that has the longest known text in ancient Etruscan writing; Trg Nikole Subica Zrinskog 19
  • Botanicki Vrt (Botanical Garden)—this garden was founded in 1889 as research grounds for the faculty of biology at Zagreb University and features an arboretum with English landscaping, an artificial lake, and an ornamental Japanese bridge; Marulicev trg 9a
  • Crkva Svete Katarine (St. Catherine’s Church)—this church built for the Jesuits between 1620 and 1632 has one nave, six side chapels, and a shrine with the vaults and walls decorated with pink and white stucco from 1732 and hung with 18th century illusionist paintings; Katarinin trg BB
  • Crkva Svetog Marka (St. Mark’s Church) – an old church built in the 13th century that was once the parish church of Gradec with a Baroque bell tower added in the 17th century, a steeply pitched roof decorated in multi-colored tiles to depict the coats of arms of Zagreb on the right and the kingdoms of Croatia, Dalmatia, and Slavonia on the left, and in the 20th century wall paintings by Jozo Kljakovic; Trg Svetog Marka 5
  • Dvor Trakoscan (Trakoscan Castle)—a heavily visited castle that was originally built in the 14th century and remodeled in the mid-19th century by Juraj VI Draskovic whose family had owned the castle for 300 years and lived there until 1944; the interior has wood-paneled rooms in different architectural themes filled with period furniture and family portraits; located 3 miles northwest of the village of Bednja, Trakoscan 1
  • Entomoloska Zbirka (Entomological Collection)—a museum with 50,000 insect specimens; Franjevacki trg 6/I, Varazdin
  • Galerija Starih I Novih Majstora (Gallery of Old and Modern Masters)—an art museum located in the 18th century rococo Palaca Sermage (Sermage Palace) with traditional paintings by Croatian and European artists; Trg Milijenka Stancica 3, Varazdin
  • Museum of Broken Relationships—a unique museum centered around mementos of relationships that have ended with donations from around the world with featured stories including a broken toaster and sad notes; Cirilometodska 2
  • Croatian Museum of Naïve Art—a gallery of paintings within the naïve art genre that was popular during the 1960s and 1970s but has declined since with works by artists such as Generalic, Mraz, Rabuzin, and Smajic; Cirilometodska 3
  • Croatian Association of Artists—a gallery designed by Ivan Mestrovic with a rotating program of exhibitions and events throughout the year that was once a mosque; Mestrovic Pavilion, Trg Zrtava Fasizma 16
  • Museum of Contemporary Art—an art museum designed by famed architect Igor Franic that has solo and themed shows as well as a permanent collection featuring 620 works by 240 artists half of which are Croatian; Avenija Dubrovnik 17
  • Maksimir Park—a wooded park that is 18 hectares that was the first public promenade in southeastern Europe and has English garden-like landscaping with alleys, lawns, and artificial lakes as well as the Bellevue Pavilion which is often photographed and a house resembling a Swiss cottage; Maksimirski perivoj bb
  • Museum Mimara—a private art collection donated by Ante Topic Mimara consisting of Ptolemaic glassware from Alexandria, delicate jade and ivory Qing dynasty ornaments, 14th century wooden crosses decorated with semi-precious stones, and a European painting collection with works by Caravaggio, Rembrandt, Bosch, Velasquez, Goya, Renoir, and Degas; Rooseveltov trg 5
  • Croatian State Archives—an Art Deco building with wise owls on the corners of the roof that was built in 1913 to house the royal library and land archives and is now home to the state archives and a reading room with chandeliers and a painting depicting influential Croatian figures; Marulicev trg 21
  • Galerija Klovicevi Dvori—an art gallery housed within a former Jesuit monastery that has a large roster of temporary exhibitions throughout the year with past exhibitions including pieces by Picasso and Chagall; Jezuitski trg 4
  • Lauba—a private art collection within a former textile-weaving mill that displays Croatian contemporary art from the 1950s to the present with rotating works and regularly scheduled programs including free creative workshops for children; Baruna Filipovica 23a
  • City Museum—this museum situated within the 17th century Convent of St. Claire has exhibits that illustrate the history of Zagreb with archaeological finds from the restoration of the building in the 1990s, old city plans, lithographs, documents, altar and stone masonry from the Cathedral and St. Mark’s, and socialist era paraphernalia; Opaticka 20
  • Museum of Illusion—an interesting museum with sensory activities, a slanted room, a mirror of truth, and over 70 other exhibits, hologram pictures, puzzles, and educational games; Ilica 72
  • Mestrovic Atelier—the former home of Ivan Mestrovic, Croatia’s most recognized artist, who lived in the house from 1922 to 1942; inside the home is a collection of sculptures, drawings, lithographs, and furniture; Mletacka 8
  • Art Pavilion—an art-nouveau pavilion that has rotating exhibitions of contemporary art; Trg Kralja Tomislava 22
  • Gallery of Modern Art—a gallery with works by Croatian artists from the past 200 years including 19th and 20th century artists such as Bukovac, Mihanovic, and Racic; Andrije Hebranga 1
  • Stone Gate—a shrine that was once the eastern gate to the medieval Gradec Town and has a painting of the Virgin Mary and Jesus by an unknown 17th century artist; Kamenita
  • Zagreb 80s Museum—a four-room museum that illustrates Zagreb in the 1980s with reconstructions of typical lounge and kitchen interiors from the decade, a room with games with a Commodore 64 and Atari, and memorabilia; Radiceva 34, 1st floor
  • Zagreb 360 Observation Deck—an outdoor deck atop Zagreb’s tallest high-rise located on the 16th floor that provides panoramic views of the city and the street below; Ilica 1a, 16th floor
  • Ethnographic Museum—a museum located in a domed 1903 building with a collection of 70,000 items and 2,750 on display including jewelry; ceramics; musical instruments; tools; weapons; and folk costumes such as gold-embroidered scarves from Slavonia and lace from the island of Pag along with artifacts from South America, Ethiopia, China, Japan, and Australia; Mazuranicev trg 14
  • Museum of Arts and Crafts—a museum that explores craftwork from the Middle Ages to the present with ornate walnut furniture, rococo ornaments, liturgical vestments, and votive images and a collection of black and white photographs depicting Croatia until the 1950s; Trg Republike Hrvatske 10
  • Technical Museum Nikola Tesla—a science museum with steam-engine locomotives, scale models of satellites, a replica of a mine, and exhibits on agriculture, geology, energy, and transportation as well as a planetarium; Savska 18
  • Art Park—a small park that holds activities from June to October such as live-music sessions, film screenings, and mural painting sessions; off Tomiceva
  • Backo Mini Express—a model railroad displayed across 75 square meters—the largest in southeastern Europe—that runs across 1050 meters of railway lines and well-crafted scenery; Gunduliceva 4
  • Galerija Greta—a storefront gallery in an old textile shop that has rotating exhibitions with different art forms such as sound installations and video to sculpture and fine art; Ilica 92
  • Zoo Zagreb—a zoo with animals such as seals, sea lions, otters, and piranhas; Maksimir Park
  • Croatian Natural History Museum—a museum with prehistoric tools and bones excavated from the Krapina cave and exhibits that illustrate the evolution of animal and plant life in Croatia with temporary exhibits focusing on different regions; Demetrova 1

Sights in Tirana, Albania

Tirana is the capital of the former Soviet-held Albania and has some interesting museums, a cemetery, and cultural attractions.

  • Bunk’Art—a former bunker that was transformed into a history and contemporary art museum with several floors of exhibits on the modern history of Albania and contemporary artwork and furnished rooms where political figures huddled waiting for invasion; Rr Fadil Deliu
  • National Gallery of Arts—a museum that illustrates the history of Albanian painting from the early 19th century to the present with temporary exhibitions, a collection of 19th century paintings depicting scenes from daily life in Albania, and communist statues; Blvd Deshmoret e Kombit
  • National History Museum—the largest Albanian museum with most of the country’s archaeological finds and a replica of Skanderbeg’s (an Albanian nobleman and military commander who served the Ottoman Empire between 1423-1443) sword as well as information on the history of Albania from ancient Illyria to the post-Communist era; Sheshi Skenderbej
  • Dajti National Park—the most accessible mountain in Albania with a cable car that takes 15 minutes to take visitors to the top of the mountain where there are beech and pine forests and picnic areas
  • Clock Tower—a 35-meter high clock tower completed by Ottoman architects in 1822 that was for many years the tallest building in Tirana and provides great views of Sheshi Skenderbej
  • Martyrs’ Cemetery—a cemetery at the top of Rr Elbasanit where 900 citizens who died in WWII were buried with scenic views of the city and surrounding mountains
  • Palace of Culture—a white stone complex with a theatre, shops, and art galleries; Sheshi Skenderbej