Autumn in Amsterdam

Houman DehzadThere’s a word in Dutch that perfectly describes this time of year – “gezellig.” A little word packed with so much – it can mean cosy, quaint, fresh, and even the warm feeling one gets when things are just nice. Amsterdam is charming any time of year, and with autumn in the air it’s magical.

Crunch… crunch…crunch goes the city. Crisp yellow and deep brown leaves dot the streets and parks. And with an earthy, almost sweet, aroma filling the air the city lights up in anticipation of the upcoming holiday season.
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Oudezijds Kolk, Old Amsterdam Photos

Old Amsterdam Photos

Houman DehzadDear Traveler,

You´re used to see Ronny here to introduce you to our “Images of Amsterdam” blog series. Ronny is unfortunately no longer working with us after many years. We wish him all the best.

Now we all know that everything changes, and this is not always for the best. I have come across these stunning photos of Amsterdam from a long time ago.

Every single image looks like a painting and is esthetically speaking so beautiful that it’s hard to imagine that they are real photos.
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Miracle of Amsterdam

The miracle of Amsterdam

In 1345, Amsterdam had only just begun its fine history. The first records of Amsterdam are in 1204, and by 1345 Amsterdam was only a small horseshoe leading down from what is now Central Station. Indeed, Central Station at that time would have itself been under water.

No one quite knows where Amsterdam got its glory from: how it turned from a set of small on a dijk into the world’s first centre of global trade in the 17th century.

Read all about the miracle of Amssterdam

The 3 factors that built Amsterdam

Miracle of Amsterdam 1

The miracle

Geert Mak in his wonderful history Amsterdam puts it down to 3 factors.

First, Utrecht, then the provincial power, decided to use trade protection. Amsterdam had been granted free trade early on and merchants flocked to it.

Second, the advent of a new design of boat – the cog – meant that trading vessels had better access to Amsterdam. Its economic future was therefore born.
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We see an Amsterdam which refuses to leave the 70's

We see an Amsterdam that refuses to leave the 1970s

Outsiders and insiders see things quite differently.

We’ve given the opportunity to Amsterdammers from both the Netherlands and abroad to share their vision of the city through photographs and stories. The Netherlanders – such as last month’s Kirsten Nelis –  seem to show a more relaxed intimacy, the foreigners -cf Alex Burch – show more excitement and an eye for the bigger picture.

Connection to the past gives substance to a city. 

Vintage 5 In these pictures, we see a vintage Amsterdam that still remains authentic and vital. We see an Amsterdam that refuses to leave the 1970s. Beautifully captured by Ambra B, this ‘part’ of the city can be seen everywhere once you’re tuned, just like a groove on a vinyl record. To do our tuning in for us Ambra has also provided some tips on how to experience vintage Amsterdam for yourself. Here’s what she had to say about the pictures. Vintage 9 I began taking pictures in Amsterdam without any specific theme in mind. But as I looked at the collections I had – of parties, of the street and cafés – the 1970s kept jumping out at me. It seemed that in almost every one there was a picture that could have been taken in that decade. It gave me the impression that the city has a connection to the past – to specifically that decade – that others don’t. In Italy, where I am from, the connection is not so obvious. 

What is remarkable in Amsterdam? 

Vintage 12 What is remarkable in Amsterdam, is that it is not as if this images are from the past. They are very much in the present. It makes the city unique. It is not as if this is fashion, but a permanent style that people invest their lives in.  In many cities the shops are the same, the people look the same.Here you can make your own style. It is not fashion of nowadays but something more authentic. 

I think I am a little seventies in my spirit 

 Vintage 3 I think I am a little seventies in my spirit. In Ruigoord [alternative cultural centre],  I remember going there for the first time and feeling I could exist in that time for a day or a night. Unfortunately these places in Amsterdam are disappearing. A lot of these places with this old feel are shutting. Because of this I think Amsterdam is losing its identity, it is becoming a little more like other cities with everything identical. But I hope it does not. I hope people will not lose their interest in this identity. 

This spirit still exists today 

Vintage 7 I think the 1970s were a great decade for the city, where Amsterdam still draws a lot of its spirit. There was a real freedom available then. It made the city very attractive. Although in decline, this spirit still exists today –  indeed you can see it everywhere.  Vintage 10 Vintage 1

Tips by Ambra B. to tune in to the Amsterdam of the 1970s 

Vintage Amsterdam
CafeLatei331 West
NightlifeRuigoord (check website for concerts and festivals)
More work from Ambra:

When you come to Amsterdam, don’t forget your phone

The biggest change in photography in recent years has been that most of it now takes place on phones. Rather than an excuse for sub-standard pictures this month’s photographer Astrid van Sterkenburg shows how good phone photography can be – flawless in fact.

The pictures show an intimate portrait of the city for this photographer. Half shots and small curiosities are easier to capture than with a larger lense. However, the pictures remain wonderful composed.

We love giving you these revolving lense of Amsterdam, and here’s one more gallery to add to our sparkling collection.

Will we be seeing you here soon? When you come to Amsterdam, don’t forget your phone!

Until then, Houman


I am photographer who studied at the Foto Academie of Amsterdam. I make installations and will soon be moving into sculpture. Next week I am heading to New York which will undoubtedly inspire a lot of new work.

Making pictures on the move is fun. You often have more space to take everything in and with a phone you can be more anonymous. It helps provide some pretty nice shots.

Amsterdam is a great place to be a creative, and there’s a lot of stimulation in photography and art. You quickly make contact with people , and move quickly ahead with projects. I could not think of a better place to live at this moment.




The canals with their houseboats are a beautiful sight in all weathers. You can fall in love with some houseboats. I think it would be fun to live in one. I particularly like the reflection on the water so I inverted the image to highlight it.

Dam square

Dam Square

Dam Square

This photo was taken at the Dam on a rainy day. The crowds mean you get a nice image of all the umbrellas. They present such a variety of colour.




This is an evening shot of a man walking his dogs and beautiful array of lights. They are even shining among the dogs! It looks like you’ve landed in the middle of a movie.




I’m often in Vondelpark, walking or jogging and my studio is located on its western edge. In this image you see my shadow and the feet of a walking couple.




Journeys on the metro supply some great images. Here I love the light and the atmosphere. It says so much about Amsterdam.

You can see more of Astrid’s photography at her studio gallery Koninginneweg 225-227 1075CS Amsterdam, or indeed her website.

Into the city

Images of Amsterdam by Kirsten Nelis

When people come to Amsterdam there are so many sights and experiences to activate all the senses. It’s sometimes overwhelming where to look and to make sense of it all.

Luckily Kirsten Nelis has been recording those slow moments for us, to inspire us to “take a moment to be silent, to really look and enjoy”.

Her photographs are stunning evidence of this approach and we are delighted to share them with you. 

Kirsten, how did you become a photographer?

I have always had an eye for things that others don’t see. I was messing around with my Mom’s camera about 4 years ago and the results were really beautiful. I am not trained in photography but people like what I do. It was not so long after that, I got overworked and was forced to slow down. I really enjoyed being outside and I took the time to talk walks in the park and cycle through the city. I began noticing more and more. I recorded what I was seeing on my smartphone and later, on my camera.

People responded quite powerfully. They were moved by the pictures and they corresponded to their own impressions of the city. They see something of themselves in the picture. I find this very inspiring and I hope that people are inspired to slow down and look as well, to take a moment to be silent, to really look and enjoy.

It’s always just a moment, there’s a cloud or a movement and then it is gone. I want to capture these beautiful moments, remind people of how good life is to slow down some times and really see.

Random encounter

Random encounter (figures on a bench in the park) by Kirsten Nelis

Random encounter (figures on a bench in the park)

Once I was cycling past the Bellamypark. It is a city garden, a place where people are able to grow fruit and vegetables in a public space. I saw an old guy who looked a little strange. He told me so much about his garden and the cookies he made from pine nuts and about his unique healthy lifestyle. He was sharing a little bit of his life story. He gave me such an original insight into life, details you would not think to make up. 

Keizersgracht (picture of canal in grey)

Keizersgracht (a picure in grey) by Kirsten Nelis

Keizersgracht (a picure in grey)

This photograph has two sides. On one hand I get a lonely feeling. There is a lot going on, implicit activity but still a feeling of loneliness. This is part of city life too which is reflected in this picture. There’s another side to this too. Because even though you might not be feeling great, the beauty of the city is still there, supporting and lifting you.

Summertime bicycle

Summertime bicycle by Kirsten Nelis

Summertime bicycle

When the weather is good, everyone goes outside in Amsterdam. Everyone gathers in the park and meets people there. You have a bottle of wine, have dinner together and play games. They have a smile on their face and having fun. In the park everyone is together, everyone is a citizen of Amsterdam. It doesn’t matter how long you have been here or who you are. It’s like we’re all supporters of the same football side – but there is no opposing team, we are just together.


Into the city (pier from Bimhuis, view of Centraal station)

Into the city by Kirsten Nelis

Into the city

This is about crossing over. It’s a view of Amsterdam Centraal station from the ‘Muziekgebouw aan het IJ’. There’s a feeling of excitement, about to cross into the city. There’s the desire to return and to re-engage in what the city has to offer. Amsterdammers see this view all the time and for me it symbolises re-entering its creative spirit again and again.

Have a look at the website of Kirsten for more beautiful photography.

Vondel bridge

Images of Amsterdam by Elisabeth de Vries

We want to give you an intimate view of how Amsterdam functions from an artist’s perspective. This month we focus on Elisabeth de Vries

We’ve teamed up with photographers who both live in and visit Amsterdam and, through their stories, create a vision of Amsterdam that will enhance your stay here.

You could think of it as an introduction from some its closest friends.

Vondel bridge

Vondel bridge

What does Amsterdam mean to me?

Well, it is my home. It is where I live my life. I see it as a kind of loudmouth and I love it for that. It is not a metropolis like New York, but makes enough noise to be recognised as a great international city.

Vondelpark, playground

Vondelpark, playground

I love the way it moves. All cities have their own kind of movement. The way people move here, they seem to be open to change.



Their minds are open and you can see this the way they interact and relate to each other and to the city itself. Everybody can do whatever they want and change whenever they want. 



I think some people find this hard. Endless possibilities mean there is uncertainty and I think a hallmark of my generation is that we fear quite a lot the possibilities that are out there.

Central station

Central station

I think this is what makes it a loudmouth. People fake it until they make it, try and prove themselves.  But I think the uncertainty is kind of necessary to become good at what you do.

Amsterdamse Bos

Amsterdamse Bos


You can see more of Elisabeth’s photography of Amsterdam and elsewhere on her blog: Words by Simon Hodges



Alex Burch

Images of Amsterdam by Alex Burch

Over the next few months, we’re going to bring you different visions of the city, as seen by artists and writers.

This month we spoke to Alex Burch, a student of Glasgow School of Art, who has been coming to Amsterdam for a number of years. 

He shares his photography and appreciation for the little city built on clay. 

Canalside buildingsite in Amsterdam

Canalside buildingsite in Amsterdam

What draws you to Amsterdam?

I think it’s something to do with having spent a lot of time here as a kid.

The light, the water, the history has always drawn me in. I’d always stay in a skinny house, and the house alone had this amazing old feeling about it.

It’s always just felt like a great place to come, a chance to get out of Leeds where I grew up. If you knew Leeds, you would understand.

Unnamed pub on Keizersgracht

Unnamed pub on Keizersgracht

My favourite place is probably the 9 streets and favourite bar is De Zotte. I’m a beer snob so their range of beers appeals to me.

Over the years I’ve also made good friends with their white cat. That cat says so much about the Dutch attitude, liberal, friendly and accommodating.

If there’s something wrong they’ll just solve it. They won’t sit there and moan. People are just generally looking for the best solution for everybody – there’s such an openness.

In the photos, I’ve gone for the things that interest me most: the light, the history, the small details.

There’s respect for the old but also an appreciation for the new. They kind of work together.

In Glasgow where I live now, there’s almost a fight going on between old and modern. In Amsterdam it all seems to be a bit more integrated.

Arriving in Amsterdam by train from Schiphol

Arriving in Amsterdam by train from Schiphol

I think these pictures capture the sense of excitement I have from being here: the ride from the airport, the light shining through a bar on a Sunday afternoon.

It’s such a relaxed atmosphere on Sunday afternoon at a borrel, there are no expectations. The Dutch have such a pride about who they are.

I know the English have a sense of loss of knowing who they are whereas the Dutch have always had it.


Caption: Westerkerk, Winter 2009

Caption: Westerkerk, Winter 2009

You can see more of Alex’s photography of Amsterdam and elsewhere on his blog: