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Public Art Bicycle Tour

See Amsterdam through its revealing public art
Rating: 5 out of 5 by EveryTrail members
Difficulty: Easy
Length: 8.1 miles
Duration: Half day
Family Friendly

Overview :  Public art, when done well, can tell a story of a city and its people that no museum can. Amsterdam has hundreds of pieces of public... more »

Tips:  Bicycling: I have chosen to start this tour at the MacBike bicycle rental shop at Central Station, but there are several reputable... more »

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Points of Interest

We are using Amsterdam Central Station as a starting point for this family-friendly tour of Amsterdam. The GPS starting point is outside MacBike's Central Station office if you want to rent bicycles, which is the recommended mode of transportation.

The ride from Central Station to our first public artwork will take you through one of the busiest ... More

2. Multatuli Statue

Our first public artwork is situated on a cobblestone terrace above the Singel Canal. Here you'll see a large statue of Multatuli (1820-1887). Multatuli (a pen name for Eduard Douwes Dekker) was a novelist who wrote about the abuses of colonialism in the Dutch East Indies, earning him the role as Holland's conscience in the 19th century. As you... More

3. Theo Thijssen Statue

Theo Thijssen (1879-1943) was an educator, writer and politician who was born to working-class parents in the Jordaan neighborhood. This statue of Thijssen (outside the cafe that bears his name) shows him at his favorite occupation: teaching children. He is a beloved figure in Amsterdam,and there is a school named after him and a museum honoring... More

4. 1934 Jordaan Riot Statue

Noorderkerk was opened in 1623 for the residents of Jordaan. Its plain exterior matches the traditionally working-class parishioners. The sculpture outside Noorderkerk's main entrance is our next piece of public artwork. It depicts three figures bound together with the inscription "Eenheid de sterkste keten," which loosely translates to "The... More

This is the first of four pieces on this tour that were created by Amsterdam's "Unknown Sculptor." I love the idea that a sculptor is creating public artwork that just shows up one day (with the blessing of the city of course). This piece was the first by the Unknown Sculptor, appearing in 1982.

The Unknown Sculptor works are owned by the city... More

"Homomonument" commemorates all gay men and lesbians who have been subjected to persecution because of their homosexuality. When it was inaugurated in 1987 it was the first monument of its kind in the world. The design is by Dutch artist Karin Daan.

The three triangles, each measuring 10 meters (30 feet) on each side, together form a larger... More

7. Johnny Jordaan Square

This square is named after 20th century Dutch folk singer Johannes Hendricus van Musscher, whose stage name was Johnny Jordaan. He is known for singing folk songs about Amsterdam in general and the Jordaan in particular. His statue in this square is joined by his fellow musicians Tante Leen, Manke Nelis and Johnny Meyer. The music that this group ... More

8. 'How to Meet an Angel'

One of the most controversial artworks in the city is this piece of a man seeking salvation or healing high above a busy Amsterdam street. Three huge ladders erected against a glass facade support the man, whose arms are raised.

What makes this artwork even more interesting (and controversial) is the fact that it sits atop a public mental health... More

9. 'Het Boomzagertje' ('Little Tree Sawyer')

To find our next POI, walk through the tree-lined paths to the north of the busy intersection of Stadouderskade and Leidsestraat. This area is known as Leidsebosje, or Little Leidsesquare Forest.

If you look up at one of the large branches you will find a little iron man sawing on the branch. This wonderful little find is also by the Unknown... More

10. Ravensbruck Monument

Ravensbruck was a WWII concentration camp for women, just north of Berlin. This monument was installed in 1975 and was created by artists Joost van Santen, Guido Eckhardt and Frank Nix.

The stainless-steel column emits light and sound signals
that are captured and reflected through 11 stainless-steel panels. Engraved on the front of the panels... More

11. Andre Hazes Statue

As you follow the GPS directions, walk your bike through the Albert Cuypstraat Market. The market has been operating here since 1905 and boasts more than 260 stalls. The market is open Monday-Saturday 9am-4pm year-round. Anything from fresh fruit to bicycles to clothing can be purchased here at reasonable prices.

The statue of Andre Hazes (1951... More

12. Walraven van Hall Memorial

The Walraven van Hall Memorial is located in the beautiful and peaceful Frederiks Square. Van Hall (1906-1945) is known as the "banker of the resistance." Together with his brother Gijs he succeeded in "robbing" the Dutch National Bank of as much as 50 million Dutch guilders to help fund the Dutch resistance during WWII.

The money was used to... More

13. 'Dockworker' Statue

On the Jonas Daniel Myerplein, between the Portuguese Synagogue and the Jewish Historical Museum, is the bronze "Dockworker" statue that was unveiled by Queen Juliana in 1952.

This statue, by Mari Andiessen, commemorates the 1941 February Strike by the workers of Amsterdam to protest the deportation of the city's Jewish population by the... More

14. 'De Violist'

Inside the foyer of the Music Theater you will find our next public artwork, the third to be created by the Unknown Sculptor. It is a statue of a violinist breaking through the floor. The statue was installed in 1991 to some controversy because the tile floor needed to be broken up to install the piece. I think the effect is stunning.

The... More

15. Jewish Resistance Memorial

At the corner where the Amstel River meets Zwanenburgwal stands the Jewish Resistance Memorial, created by Belgian sculptor Josef Glatt in 1988. On the side, the text of the prophet Jeremiah laments in Dutch and Hebrew: "Were my eyes fountains of tears then would I weep day and night for the fallen fighters of my beloved people." Approximately 500... More

16. Baruch Spinoza Statue

Baruch Spinoza (1632-1677) is the most well-known and most influential Dutch philosopher. Spinoza's masterwork "Ethics" laid the foundation for the 18th century Enlightenment. Spinoza became known for his ideas about freedom of expression, tolerance, and freedom of religion.

Spinoza was raised in Amsterdam's Jewish community, but his... More

17. Bredero Monument

Gerbrand Bredero (1585-1618) was a famous Amsterdam playwright and poet who was born and lived not far from the site of this statue.

The statue was created by sculptor Peter Esser in 1968 to commemorate the 350-year anniversary of Bredero's death. The statue depicts a scene from the most famous of Bredero's works: "The Spanish Brabander." Esser... More

18. 'Breastplate'

Right next to the Oudekerk (Old Church) is the fourth, and final, work on this tour created by the Unknown Sculptor. It is a bronze relief of a hand caressing a breast and is imbedded between the cobblestones in the ground. It first appeared here in 1993.

An odd place for such a work of art you say? Look around. The Old Church is in the heart of... More

19. 'Belle'

Our final POI is at the north end of the Old Church square. This statue is the only one in the world to honor sex workers. It was installed in 2007 and titled "Belle." The inscription says "Respect sex workers all over the world." The piece was created by Dutch artist Els Rijerse.

That is the end of our public art tour. The GPS track will take... More

20. Herman Makkink Sculpture 'Untitled'

This is an optional stop, best viewed after POI No. 4. To get to Herman Makkink's sculpture in Westerpark from Noorderkerk follow the GPS route to Marnixstraat. Instead of turning left toward POI No. 5, turn right and follow Marnixstraat until the major intersection with Haarlemerweg. Turn left onto Haarlemerweg and over the Willems bridge. You... More

21. National Slavery Monument

This is an optional stop, best viewed after POI No. 12. To get from POI No. 12 to Oosterpark follow the GPS route over the Amstel River. Instead of turning left onto Weesperstraat continue on Sarphatistraat to the Muiderpoort tower. Turn right, crossing the canal and enter Oosterpark. The National Slavery Monument is in the southwest corner of the... More