In the heart of Amsterdam, New Market Square (Nieuwmarkt) is a bustling central square that’s long been a popular hangout spot. It once served as a market (hence its name), though also saw some of the darker moments of European history: in World War II the Nazis used it as an assembly point for Jews who were being sent to concentration camps.
Straddling the edge of Amsterdam’s Chinatown and Red Light District, this old square has been hosting markets since the 17th century. At the heart of New Market Square is the last surviving fortified gate in Amsterdam, De Waag, which dates back to the 14th century, when this was the edge of town. The gate was later used as a storehouse, then the home of the Amsterdam Guild of Surgeons, and then, after WWII, the Jewish Historical Museum. Today De Waag houses a restaurant that’s a popular people-watching spot.
Many walking and bike tours of Amsterdam and the Red Light District include a stop at New Market.
Things to Know Before You Go
- New Market Square is a must-visit for history lovers, those interested in the Holocaust, and all first-time visitors to Amsterdam.
- Wear comfortable footwear, as the area is best explored on foot or by bike.
- New Market and De Waag are accessible to wheelchair users.
How to Get There
New Market Square is situated in the heart of Amsterdam, about a 7-minute walk from Centraal Station. To get there from elsewhere in the city, take metro line 51, 53, or 54 to the Nieuwmarkt station. The Rijksmuseum is a 20-minute walk away.
When to Get There
This area is great to visit day or night, though it naturally gets more crowded during the summer, when temperatures are warmer. A farmers market featuring all kinds of fresh produce is held from 9am to 5pm on Saturdays, plus there’s a Sunday antiques market in the summertime.
The Anatomy Lesson of Dr. Nicolaes Tulp
De Waag was the setting of one of Rembrandt’s earliest masterpieces, The Anatomy Lesson of Dr. Nicolaes Tulp, which took place inside the structure when it served as the Amsterdam Guild of Surgeons’ headquarters. This lesson involved the dissection of an executed criminal’s cadaver, which was allowed only once per year—and as such, at the time, were popular events for students and the public alike. Today the painting is on display at Mauritshuis in The Hague.