Go to Vondelpark on a warm day, find yourself a casual corner that offers a wide view of the place, and there is a high chance that you’ll feel it—the pulse of Amsterdam itself.
Located southeast of Leidseplein, the park is known for being a popular local hangout. It spans about 120 acres (making it the largest park of its kind in the Kingdom of Netherlands), and its size accommodates various walks of life: from the young to the old, from the well-off to the bourgeois, from the active to the shiftless, and from those who are there to do business to those who are there to smoke a joint.
Amsterdam, being a city of utmost tolerance, is home to nearly all walks of life. And, Vondelpark, being among the most popular of its public places, exhibits such diversity. More than anything, the park serves as a metaphor of Amsterdam itself.
According to www.amsterdam.info and www.vondelpark.nl, Vondelpark was named after Dutch poet and playwright Joost van den Vondel. It opened to the public back in 1865 and was initially named Nieuwe Park. Back then, it was known for being a horseback riding and strolling destination. These days, over a hundred years since a statue of Vondel was situated here, thereby encouraging efforts to rename it, the property has become home to a host of recreational activities and attractions.
Art is an important facet in Amsterdam life, and this becomes apparent to anyone touring Vondelpark. Aside from the statue of Vondel, one can also find “Fish,” a sculptural piece by Pablo Picasso, and “Mama Baranka” by Nelson Carillho. Meanwhile, come June to August, the park’s open-air theater serves as a venue for the performing arts.
Those looking to partake of more active pursuits in Amsterdam may head to the southern side of the park to rent inline skates at the Vondeltuin. For those visiting with kids, meanwhile, the place also has several play areas and a sizeable playground located near Groot Melkhuis.
According to www.vondelpark.nl, Vondelpark receives around 10 million visitors every year. And on a warm day, when the park is open to most outdoor pursuits, one can see why: variety.
Much like Amsterdam itself, Vondelpark is teeming with possibilities. And because it has long been considered a microcosm of the city, it also bears the capital’s level of tolerance, a “leef en laat leven” (live and let live) attitude that renders the pulse of the city’s tourism beating ceaselessly.