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Jordaan Amsterdam - The Red Light District Amsterdam Guide - discover the secrets!
This is the book you should read before you visit the Red Light District!

Jordaan Amsterdam

Date: 7. jul 2018.

Jordaan is probably the most famous neighborhood in Amsterdam that you could visit during your Amsterdam tour.It is the part of the borough of Amsterdam-Centrum. Originally a working-class neighborhood, the Jordaan has become one of the most expensive, upscale locations in the Netherlands. It is home to many art galleries, particularly for modern art, and is also dotted with many specialty shops and restaurants.

The most common theory on the origin of the name is that it derivates from the French word “jardin” which means the garden. There is also another theory that the Prinsengracht canal was once nicknamed Jordaan (the Dutch for the river Jordan). The first theory kind of makes more sense, because Jordaan has a high concentration of “hofjes” which are inner courtyards, many of them with restored houses and peaceful gardens and most street canals in Jordaan are named after trees and flowers.

The area north of Rozengracht is the more touristy and commercial section though the quieter area south is no less scenic. Traditionally, de Jordaan was defined by the area in which you could hear the bells of Westerkerk as Anne Frank described in her diaries. This is the reason why many people think that the Westerkerk (West Church) on the Westermarkt is the main church of the Jordaan. It’s true that you can hear its carillon and see the beautiful Westertoren (West tower) everywhere in the neighborhood and that the Jordaanfestival is located on his square, but the church is actually located just outside the Jordaan. So the main church of the Jordaan is the Noorderkerk. The church is still in use as a Protestant church, and like the Westerkerk open to everyone, especially during concerts.

The Jordaan was built as the large expansion of Amsterdam in early 17th century, as a district for the working class and emigrants when it was called Het Nieuwe Werck (The New Work). The streets and canals were built according to the old ditches and paths, which explains its unusual orientation compared to the rest of the city.. The population increase during the next centuries was enormous, caused by the stream of the political refugees like protestant Fleming, Spanish and Portuguese, Jews and French Huguenots who mainly settled in the Jordaan. It was a poor district with small houses and slums, every little room stuffed with families and lots of children. The entire area was one ghetto with open sewers, canals served for both transport and sewer, and no running water. Around 1900 there lived about 80 thousand which is 4 times more than today, because the current population of Jordan is 20 thousand.

By the 1970s, many of the buildings were in disrepair. The city council had serious plans to mainly demolish big parts of the district and replace them for large ugly blocks of modern buildings. There were many protests against this idea. Thanks to this resistance the plan was modified, there came small-scale projects which would repair the neighborhood, without damaging its original character of this historical part of the city.

With rising rents, many original residents moved to such satellite cities as Purmerend and Almere, making room for young urban professionals. Partly by these new inhabitants the Jordaan has changed from a slum area to a district for artist, still living on low rent, and the rich who bought the very expensive renovated houses.

Nowadays the Jordaan is compared to the rest of the town an oasis of peace with a labyrinth of narrow streets and little canals, nice for strolling around courtyards, art studios, and monumental buildings with stone tablets, old-fashioned ‘brown’ pubs, boutiques or galleries.

Many houses in the Jordaan have a stone tablet on their facade, a stone sign displaying the profession or family sign of the inhabitants. For instance a butcher displayed a pig and a tailor a pair of scissors, carved in stone above the entry. The first such stone tablets were made in the 16th century, when citizens were ordered to use these tablets instead of big wooden gables that obstructed the traffic in the narrow streets.