Walk Amsterdam’s De Pijp
De Pijp is known for its many and diverse restaurants, the Albert Cuyp Market and the Sarphatipark. Having lived here myself, I remember it being a truly lively neighborhood, where there is always something happening, everything you need is in reach and the residents are very friendly. Apart from the more well-known spots, de Pijp still has many hidden treasures to uncover. This walk will take you through the whole neighborhood, exploring some great cafes, art, architecture and history. This week’s walk is almost exactly an hour, so make sure you bring your good shoes and some water to stay hydrated.
Enjoy your walk!
⏱️ Total Walking Time: 58 min
🧭 Directions: Hit this Link, then click the top right corner of the map to open full screen in Google Maps
FYI: the technology behind Google Maps is sometimes a bit shaky, so sometimes you need to click the link more than once, or zoom in to get the route view. Apologies for the inconvenience.
Best Roast en Route: STROOM
STROOM is one of my favorite coffee houses. The inside is very cute and welcoming, their coffee and teas are amazing, and their food is delicious. STROOM tries to be friendly for all diets. The menu contains meat and fish dishes, but also vegetarian, vegan options, lactose-free, and gluten-free options. STROOM is open from the morning to late at night, so this is the perfect place to get breakfast, lunch, dinner or a coffee and some snacks for your break during this weekly walk.
Highlight A: Hommage to Paradjanov
The artist Thom Puckey was asked to make a fountain with a religious undertone. The circles on the ground were inspired by a painting of Giovanni di Paulo, from 1445. The circles represent the creation by God and the expulsion from paradise. In and around the circles you can find piles of books. Three taller book piles are compressed, one by the moon and two by some big stones. Water seeps out. The water stands for the knowledge that can be extracted from the holy books. The wet books were inspired by the movie Sayat Nova, where wet books were pressed dry by big stones. The movie was made by Sergei Paradjanov, hence the name of the structure. The smaller book piles are meant as seats, so the fountain can function as a meeting place.
Highlight B: The Barometer of Okura
Compared to most other buildings in Amsterdam, the Okura building seems gigantic. This exceptionally tall building rises 78 meters. If you have walked in this area before you may have noticed that the top of the building is lit at night. Normally the top is lit in one of three colors: green, blue, and white. These colors show the predictions of tomorrow’s weather forecast, which makes this a gigantic barometer. The green light predicts bad weather, the blue light predicts a sunny day, and the white light means that the weather of tomorrow might be unpredictable. On special occasions, the top of the tower can represent something else. The tower has been colored like a rainbow to support the lgbtq+ community and orange for the royal house.
Highlight C: De Pijp
The original plans for de Pijp were very different from what it is today. De Pijp used to be a polder close to Amsterdam. But as the city grew, more houses were needed. Where the Sarphatipark is currently located, the city planner had planned to build Amsterdam’s Central Station, with the Ceintuurbaan containing the trails for the trains going in and out of the city. On the city side of the trails big residential houses would be built with brought streets. On the outside of the trails big villas were planned, with a lot of nature. The plans were similar to the 19th century constructions of Paris and Vienna.
But the plans were costly and time consuming, so the plans changed. Central Station was going to be built along the IJ. The polder ditches were used as a basis to map all the streets on. Private builders were allowed to construct alongside those old ditches. They built the new residential houses as quickly as possible, with the cheapest building materials, so the apartments could soon be sold again. The area was built for the poor. Albert Cuypstraat was full of prostitution, and there was filth everywhere. Today, the Albert Cuypstraat is a flourishing market. At the end (on Hobbemakade) you’ll find the last remnants of prostitution in this area of the city.
Highlight D: The Old Asscher Diamond Factory
The Asscher Diamond Company was founded in 1854 by Joseph Isaac Asscher. The company grew fast and commissioned the building of a big new Diamond factory in the middle of de Pijp, then a new neighborhood of Amsterdam. This building was finished in 1907 and constructed entirely out of yellow and red brick. The building contains many windows so the diamond polishers could work in natural light. At its peak, the company contained 750 workers. Sadly, the company underwent great losses during the Second World War. The Asschers, being a Jewish family and having many Jewish employees, were heavily attacked by the invaders. After the war, 96% of the former employees had been murdered. Only ten of the family members and fifteen of the employees survived. Two of the Asscher family decided to move to New York City to explore new markets. To honor the family for its hard work in the Netherlands, former Queen Juliana granted the the Asscher Diamond Company a royal title.
Highlight E: Cafe Foeders
Foeders is the place to try out some of the best and newest beers. With 42 beers on tap, you will be able to explore a great beer horizon. This cafe is a perfect combination of old and new. There are wooden floors, covered in sand and little glasses filled with peanuts on every table. The floor is covered with peanut shells which everyone is allowed to shove off the table after eating the nuts. Yet, the cafe comes across as very modern – always up to date on the newest beers and beer trends, attracting a lot of younger guests. At Foeders you will never get bored. Make sure to try it out.
Highlight F: The Goblins
Most people look down or forward when walking through the city. But in Amsterdam, like most cities, you will likely miss out on a lot of details this way. On the Ceintuurbaan, on the rooftop of buildings 251-255, we can see two small goblins playing. The red and green goblin seem to be throwing a ball from one side to the other. There are two theories for the placement of these goblins. The first theory is that it was made after the name of man who ordered the construction of these houses. His name was Ballegooien, meaning: throwing balls. Another theory relates to the saying elkaar de bal toespelen, which means: to pass the ball from one to another. The original builders of these houses were short on money and had to pass the project to other builders. The goblins could be symbolizing the passing of the project.
Highlight G: Sarphatipark
To build the residential housing in de Pijp, the ground level of the neighborhood had to be raised. Yet, the park is still on its original level, significantly lower than the rest of its surroundings. The park is named after Samual Sarphati. Sarphati was a doctor, benefactor, chemist and bread producer. He was able to produce bread that was 30% cheaper than the rest of the market, which greatly improved the quality of life of the poor in the city. He developed plans to help improve the city. He was the one who started creation of the Amstelhotel and the Palace of Volksvlijt. The latter sadly burned down, but was an amazing construction based on the Crystal Palace in London. The Sarphati Park was named after Sarphati as a monument to this man who had meant so much to the city.
Highlight H: Albert Cuyp Market
When de Pijp neighborhood was constructed there was a canal where we can now find the Albert Cuyp market. When the construction of de Pijp was finished, it was decided to remove the canal altogether. The result is this very broad street and thus, the perfect place for a market. The Albert Cuyp Market is the busiest market of the Netherlands and a big tourist attraction in Amsterdam. In the 50s, one of the now most famous Amsterdam singers, Andre Hazes, was discovered while singing on the market. A statue of him in the middle of the market is a reminder of his legacy. On the market you will find vegetables, fruit, meat, fish, clothes, bags, glasses and much more. The Albert Cuyp Market is also famous for its fresh Stroopwafels, which I recommend trying out.
Your Fav Hidden Gems
The above highlights are just some of our favorite spots along the way. If something catches your eye while en route, share a picture with us so we can share with the group next week. Email is the best.
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