What to see in Amsterdam – Het Rembrandtplein

We’ve posted a lot about the art, museums and historical homes to be found in Amsterdam.  But, the city has more to offer, from the picturesque canals and bridges to its parks and pleinen or city squares.    Not far from the Gouden Bocht or Golden Bend along Herengracht, is Rembrandtplein a lively square lined with cafes, clubs, hotels, and restaurants.  It’s known for being a popular night scene and an attractive daytime meeting place for locals and tourists.

Originally the square was called Reguliersplein, a name taken from a 14th century monastery that once stood nearby.  In the 17th century, the square was known as Botermarkt, when it became the location of the butter and cheese market.  On some days, a book and print market was held in the square and in the fall it became a fairground.  The square today is easily recognizable for the statue of Rembrandt van Rijn that stands at its center.

The story behind the making of the statue, whether true or not, is interesting.  It’s said that in 1840, in celebration of their independence from the United Kingdom of the Netherlands, the Kingdom of Belgium commissioned a bronze statue of their famous artist Peter Paul Rubens.  None too happy with the recent events and not wanting to be outdone by their neighbors, the people of the Netherlands decided to commission their own statue honoring a famous Dutch artist.  In 1852, Amsterdam celebrated the unveiling of their Rembrandt by sculptor Louis Royer.  The statue was placed at the intersection of Reguliersgracht and Reguliersdwarsstraat and in the 1870s was moved to its current location in the square. And, what began as Reguliersplein, officially became Rembrandtplein.  These days Rembrandt is ‘guarded’ by bronze replicas of the ‘Company of Shooters’, the men he painted in De Nachtwacht. The statues, created by Russian artists Mikhail Dronov and Alexander Taratynov, make an interesting addition to the square and honor Rembrandt’s most famous work. It’s worth it to take the time to walk through Rembrandtplein and step into the painting.

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