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Wednesday, May 11, 2011


Photo: De Valk Windmill
The De Valk Windmill now houses a museum with bird's-eye views of scenic Leiden.
Photograph by Jon Hicks/CORBIS
Squatting between Germany to the east, Belgium to the south, and the North Sea to the west and north, the Netherlands has been crisscrossed countless times by invading armies all the way back to those of Julius Caesar, in the first century A.D. • Its "golden era" arrived in the 17th century, with the founding of far-flung colonies. • This was also the period of Old Masters Rembrandt and Hals. • Today, the treasures they painted, and many more, may be found in world-class museums from Amsterdam to Rotterdam.

Photo: Cafe 't-Smalle
Charming Café 't-Smalle, a perennially crowded restaurant, bar, and sidewalk café, is authentic Amsterdam.
Photograph by Stefano Amantini/Atlantide
Often promoted as the gateway to Europe, the Netherlands’s largest metropolis has always been one of the continent’s most progressive and cosmopolitan capitals, and nothing much has changed since the city first came to glory as a trading center in the 17th century. You can still relive that Golden Age. Stroll, boat, or bike along the city’s canals, lined with gabled houses, to experience one of Europe’s best preserved, photogenic, and intact historic city centers, or visit the Dutch master paintings in the Rijksmuseum. But don’t stop there. Always looking ahead, and reinventing itself, Amsterdam has recently emerged as a 21st-century style center. How to sample the city’s purely contemporary side? Run through the theme boutiques and galleries of the western canal ring, dine at one of the city’s creative global kitchens, catch a contemporary dance performance at the Muziektheater, or visit the revitalized East Docklands area, which offers a study in sleek contemporary architecture and smart urban planning.
Photo: Canal-linked architecture

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