Exploring Anne Frank’s home and her neighbourhood of Jordaan in Amsterdam
The church that she stands beneath is Westerkerk, the bells of which she heard from her hiding place in “The Secret Annexe”, the attic of her father’s offices. Indeed, she would often write about their chimes in her diary, a journal that went on to be one of the most famous books in the world. It was certainly one of my favourite books as a child and so when I moved to Amsterdam, going to Anne Frank House Museum was something of a priority.
The secret annexe
Standing in the queue- there is nearly always a queue – I tried to remember the last time I’d read The Diary of Anne Frank. It had to have been more than ten years ago. I thought about how happy I was to revisit Anne’s story, but why did I have to queue for so long?
As we shuffled slowly forward, my toes slowly freezing and my cheap polyester gloves next to useless, I tutted at the prospect of a long wait. Ahead I saw a young staff member from the museum walk along the queue handing out pamphlets and when he approached me I asked for an English version. Inside was a short introduction to the museum and decorating the guide were a number of quotes from the book that I had so enjoyed reading many years ago.
I’m not going to spoil their uplifting power because these words are best relived or discovered for the first time with a visit to the museum yourself (and if you buy your tickets online you can avoid queuing), however, I left Anne Frank House seeing both life and Amsterdam with different eyes.
That first visit was two years ago I have since returned to Anne Frank House Museum on three occasions with friends and family. Each one has been equally as moving and I don’t regret my repeated visits. However, what I now find just as poignant are the bike rides and slow walks I make around the Jordaan area of Amsterdam, where Anne lived and where the Secret Annexe she hid away in is to be found.
The Jordaan neighbourhood
Traditionally a working class area it is now considered one of the most upmarket and desirable places to not only live but stay in Amsterdam when visiting. Not only are you surrounded by some the most picturesque canalways, narrow cobbled streets and two striking churches (the aforementioned Westerkerk and the nearby Noorderkerk), but you are also in the midst of art galleries, independent boutiques, historic shops, as well as countless cafes, bars and restaurants that are offer traditional or contemporary atmospheres.
Jordaan is also home to two of my favourite markets; the Noordermarkt flea market on Mondays and Lindengracht farmer’s market on Saturdays. That’s why a hotel like The Toren is so perfect, because you’re in the thick of it all while still being walking distance from several of Amsterdam’s other neighbourhoods.
What I love most about exploring this area now is that the shop fronts may have changed, the houses now may have much higher price tags, and the people who live there are very different, but nearly all of the houses with their peaked gables and sloping walls and the worn cobbles underfoot these are the very same streets that Anne used to dream and write about walking along or riding her bike down.
And they are the inspiration behind many of her wonderful quotes, the ones that make it completely okay to spend 40 minutes queuing in the cold to experience her story.
To make the most of this neighbourhood, stay at the boutique hotel, The Toren, Amsterdam