Tag Archives: museums

Discovering Dutch Culture: 3 Unmissable Historical Attractions in the Netherlands

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Occupying a particularly historical corner of Western Europe, the Netherlands holds its fair share of historic treasures within its compact borders. From the times of the Roman Empire, through the Middle Ages and countless wars to the present, this country has many sites waiting to be discovered by the intrepid traveler.

With farmland that has been tended to for close to 2,000 years, historic districts that have either survived bombardment in the wars of the 20th century or have been lovingly restored, and a people that values their existence, there are places here that you shouldn’t miss in the Netherlands on your next Euro trip.

Even if you only have a few days in this tiny Low Country, these three historical attractions in the Netherlands will have you coming away from this place feeling like you did it justice on your first visit. Let’s explore them together!

Tour the classic windmills of Kinderdijk

If there’s one icon that people inevitably associate with the Netherlands, it’s the windmill, and we’re not talking about the modern variety that generates renewable energy. Our minds instead take us back to the days where their wooden precursors provided the necessary energy to pump water out of the surrounding land, as the nearby river and high water table had caused problems with soaking wet fields in prior centuries.

One of the windmills in the Kinderdijk area, recognized by UNESCO for its cultural significance to the history of the Netherlands, can be viewed from the inside (Museummolen), and rest can be viewed from their exteriors via a leisurely bike ride through the pancake-flat countryside that dominates much of the area.

Visit the Anne Frank Museum in Amsterdam

The worst wars in the history of humanity raged through much of the first half of the 20th century, and in Europe, the Netherlands was in the middle of it all. The nation fell to Nazi Germany in 1940, and suffered on a much larger scale than neighboring nations when it came to the horror of the Holocaust, as it lost 75% of its Jewish population. Anne Frank and her family were among those targeted, but they managed to hide from the Gestapo for most of the war thanks to their sympathetic neighbors. They hid them in a series of hidden rooms at the rear of a canal house in the middle of Amsterdam, which concealed them for two years until an anonymous tipster blew their cover.

Thanks to the popularity of Anne Frank’s diary that has found amidst the strewn remains of their former hiding spot, this space eventually became the Anne Frank Museum, which expands more on her and families’ lives, and has exhibits that tell the story of other persecuted peoples around the world.

Walk the medieval streets of Utrecht

Founded as a fort by the Roman Empire in 47 AD, Utrecht has a lengthy history that tells its story visually via the copious quantities of medieval era buildings found within its city limits. The Dom Tower, built in the 13th century, is the tallest church steeple in the nation, with the view from its 112 metre high perch being nothing short of breathtaking. On the other end of the scale, one of the world’s first houses built in the modernist style (Rietveld Schroder House, built in 1924) can be seen here, a fact which speaks to the diversity of structures in this vibrant Dutch city.

Culture Crawling In Sydney, Australia

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Being the commercial centre and the largest city in Australia and Oceania, Sydney has become a magnet for culture.  With all the wealth enjoyed by the thriving middle and upper classes of this cosmopolitan and dynamic metropolis, there is no shortage of places to enjoy some poignant culture Down Under before heading out into the hinterland in search of Aussie’s most famous natural attractions.

In that spirit, here’s how to fill your days and nights in the Harbour City with enriching cultural experiences that will give you a sense of what makes the people down here tick…

Catch A Show At the Sydney Opera House

You may want to file this one under “duh”, as it seems like an obvious thing to do, but you’d be surprised at how many people just click a picture of this iconic building, and then just go on their merry way without stopping to consider that there just might be some worthwhile cultural exhibitions that go on here once the sun sinks below the horizon.  Indeed, this much celebrated hall of the performing arts carries out shows year round, with acts including theatre, concerts, symphony performances, and of course, productions of many famous and new operas!

Take In The Latest In Theatre And Performing Arts At Carriageworks

Formerly a series of railway workshops as recently as 1989, this site was refurbished starting in 2003, with Carriageworks opening to artists and admiring members of the general public in 2007. Here, patrons of the performing arts can enjoy puppetry, dance theatre, visual art displays and many other stimulating experiences.  Located next door is the Everleigh Market, where one can peruse many organic and artisanal foodstuffs and crafts grown and created by local farmers and artists.

Stroll Amongst Aussie Masterpieces At The Art Gallery Of New South Wales

Those that like admiring imitations of life via paint and canvas should make time to explore the Art Gallery of New South Wales.  This museum’s claim to fame is its collection of Aboriginal art, which is the largest in the world.  In addition to this, this gallery also has a healthy collection of contemporary Australian, Asian and European pieces, making it an excellent way to hide from the intense Sydney heat in mid-summer, as temperatures often approach 40c here at the hottest time of year.

Paint The Town Red: Sydney’s Lively Nightlife

After all the culture grazing that you’ll do during the day, it’s likely that you’ll be seeking a few drinks to digest what you’ve experienced with your travel partners.  Depending on your interests, there are several places to go within Greater Sydney.  Those seeking the club vibe should make for King’s Cross, while those seeking to rub shoulders with the after work crowd on a Friday should head to the Central Business District.  If you’re seeking some same sex attention, Oxford Street has this cities greatest concentration of LGBT themed drinking establishments, while those seeking to sip on Australia’s trendiest microbrews would do well to head to The Rocks.

Sydney Is A Happening Place

Being the biggest population centre of a country has undeniable advantages when it comes to culture, nightlife and other trendy attractions.  As such, make time to experience some of the best of Australia’s culture before setting out for the nation’s popular attractions further afield.