Vondelpark in Amsterdam
Vondelpark is the largest city park in Amsterdam, and certainly the most famous park in the Netherlands, which welcomes about 10 million visitors every year. The Vondelpark is centrally placed south of Leidseplein and near Rijksmuseum, Stedelijk Museum and Van Gogh Museum. The Vondelpark is loved by Amsterdammers as well as by tourists, and is full of people - enjoying a sunny day, dog-walking, jogging, roller-skating, listening to music, people-watching, or just lazing about in grass. Free concerts are given at the open-air theatre or in the summer at the park's bandstand. Other attractions are the statue of the poet Vondel, the cast iron music dome, the Groot Melkhuis with playground for children, and the historical Pavilion with its restaurant Vertigo, opening in summer a popular terrace.
Vondelpark is a great and large park. And you can visit it in a typical Dutch way: by bike! With a guided bicycle tour the guide will inform you about its history and show you every corner of it. Book this tour through our Amsterdam bicycle tour webpage.
History of the Vondelpark
In 1864 a group of prominent Amsterdam citizens formed a committee to found a public park. They raised money to buy 8 hectares of land and the landscape architect Jan David Zocher was commissioned to design the park in then fashionable English landscape style. Zocher known also as Zocher junior as he was himself a son of the garden architect, worked with his son Louis Paul Zocher. Trained as architects in Paris and Rome, Zochers used vistas, ponds and pathways to create an illusion of a natural area. Father and son designed also Keukenhof and other parks in the Netherlands.
The park was open to public in 1865 as a horseback riding and strolling park named Nieuwe Park. The name Vondelpark was adopted in 1867 when a statue of Dutch poet Joost van den Vondel was situated into the park. The committee soon raised money to enlarge the park and by 1877, it reached its current space of 45 hectares. At that time, its site was on the edge of Amsterdam, since then it has become central in the city, close to Leidseplein and Museumplein. In 1873, L.P. Zocher built on a small island in the park an iron bandstand, the place of the popular music concerts.
In 1878, The Pavilion designed by W.H. Hamer Jr has been constructed, on a place of a similar wooden structure. Since 1975 until very recently, it housed The Film Museum, now transformed into a big modern institution called Eye Institute and moved to the new building at the IJ Lake in north of the city. In 2009 the world’s record biggest picnic recognized by The Guinness Book of Records with 433 persons participating, took place in the park.
Nature in Vondelpark
Constructed on a muddy dump area, the Vondelpark has to go through the total renovation each 30 years. This is because the actual ground level of the park constantly lowers itself. If these works would not be done, the whole park would be covered by water. It is visible after heavy rains at the end of the period before the next renovation, when whole parts of the park become vast ponds. The water cannot be simply pumped out as this would lower the groundwater around the park and endanger the wooden foundations of the buildings nearby.
The park exists now for almost 150 years has many old plane trees, horse chestnut, Dutch red chestnut, catalpas and different sorts of birch trees. Numerous bushes and herbs complete the park’s landscape. Vondelpark is also a home to many birds – wild ducks, blue herons and many smaller birds.
Sculptures in Vondelpark
The imposing 3 meters high bronze monument of the Dutch poet Vondel from 1867 is by Louis Royer, with the pedestal by Pierre Cuypers. An abstract concrete ‘Fish’ from 1965 is by Pablo Picasso. A bronze representing Caribbean woman called ‘Mama Baranka’ from 1985 is by Amsterdam contemporary sculptor Nelson Carillho.
Open Air Theatre
Theatre, dance performance and music is played during June, July and August. The open-air theater (Dutch: Open Lucht Theater) takes place in Vondelpark, near the entrance from Eeghenstraat. Admission is free, but some performances are so popular that we advise you to make an on-line reservation via their website.
When taking kids to Vondelpark
Vondelpark has six play areas and one large playground near Groot Melkhuis. It is also possible to rent skates there at Snoephuisje (near Amstelveenseweg entrance), pancake are served there as well. In June until beginning of September, the open air-theatre stages free children's shows. Traditionally on the Queensday, the Vondelpark becomes a Kinder Market where only kids may trade.
Vicinity of the park
Vondelstraat – a street that goes along the park has been constructed in decades after the establishment of the Vondelpark with many houses constructed by a foremost Amsterdam architect, designer of Rijksmuseum and Central Station, Pierre Cuypers with the house he designed for himself at no. 75. Hollandse Manege – today The Living Horse Museum is at no. 140.
Hostels near Vondelpark
There are several hostels close to the Vondelpark: StayOkay Hostel situated right in the park, while The Flying Pig Hostel is situated on Vossiusstraat 46, a parallel street to the park. You can also look at offers of hotels around Vondelpark.