Friday, June 5, 2015

centuries of history

so off we went one day to the Amsterdam Museum which is basically the City History Museum.  They have taken over the majority of the museum with one exhibit called Amsterdam DNA and it follows the development of the city in a number of interactive exhibits. The outside of the building is adorned with historical plaques of tradesmen and commercial enterprises-

Here is the program and synopsis for those interested in 1000 years of history (the first 500 go fast! LOL

but the museum has more than just this one exhibit and we saw many interesting things-

this is a detail from a marriage portrait - these portraits always show the bride with the ring on her left thumb (closest to the heart) and wearing bracelets (a symbol basically of enslavement to the groom)

a modern portrait of the city-

a cycling exhibit- bicycles have become overwhelming here since our last visit- and follow the rules of the road as much as they do in the US - which is to say - not at all.... but here there are 350,000 bicyclists a day!

trams- the other form of transportation popular in Amsterdam have been around long enough to have an antique board game feature them as the subject.

and finally - here is an interesting view of the Netherlands and their conquest of the sea-

before we headed to our next stop we took a moment out to step into the Begijnhof - a peaceful courtyard of homes once used for a semi religious order of women - here is a little history on this group from the Internet-

In about 1150, a group of women came together to live in a religious community, primarily to look after the sick. These were, in effect, the first ‘Beguines’ although the name was not yet used.  The women were not nuns and nor did they live in the seclusion of a convent. They had no founders nor did they make lifelong vows. They did have to be unmarried, to make a vow of chastity and to promise obedience to the parish priest, but since they were not expected to make a vow of poverty, they were free to dispose of their own possessions.  They could renounce their vows at any moment and leave the Beguinage, for instance, to get married.  At the restoration of the Beguinage (1984-1987), the courtyard was renovated and some houses enlarged. The occupancy of the houses changed as well. On 23 May 1971, Sister Antonia, the last Beguine, died, 84 years old. She was buried in the cemetery of St Barbara, where the Beguines had had a common grave of their own since 1893. So, since 1971, the Beguinage is no longer a beguinage in the strict sense of the word.

we will continue our touring of Amsterdam in a few more posts - including the Rijksmuseum and the Van  Gogh... we also obtain an invitation to the Six Collection but there are not photos allowed there (a private house) so I will have to piece together that information from other sources - but still many things and lots of good meals to keep you interested!

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