Located on 263 Prinsengracht sits a home that seems like every other home in the neighborhood from the outside. The inside tells another story; the story of Anne Frank. Touring the Anne Frank house is a somber experience, but one that should be required of every Amsterdam visitor to remind us of the horrific events during Hitler's regime.
The tour begins on the ground floor where Otto Frank, Anne's father, had a warehouse and spice grinding room, and through the offices on the second floor before entering into the secret annex. On display are a number of family photos, artifacts showing the persecution of Jews in the Netherlands, picture postcards that Anne used to decorate the walls of her room, and a tiny map cut from a newspaper where Otto followed the progress of the Allied Invasion. There is no furniture in the secret annex. It had all been removed by the Nazis after the family was imprisoned. Each room is filled with placards quoting snippets from Anne's diary and providing detail on how the family existed during the 2 years of hiding.
At the end of the tour, visitors will find computers with interactive displays about the Holocaust and a virtual tour of the secret annex.
There is a sense of reverence when walking through the home. Unlike other historical sites where visitors push to get in front or rush to be at the head of the line, people passed from room to room in silence and great respect. Be prepared to leave feeling quite solemn--appropriately so.
TIP: The lines are extremely long to purchase tickets at the museum. Purchase tickets before leaving home at AnneFrank.org. Along with your ticket purchase, you will reserve a time to visit. With this, you bypass the lines and head straightaway inside.
On a lighter note, a visit to Rembrandt's house is a fascinating walk through the life of the young artist. Rembrandt lived in the home located on 4 Jodenbreestraat from 1639 to 1658. The neighborhood, at that time, was filled with rich merchants and artists. Although Rembrandt earned a lot of money, he failed to pay off his mortgage, fell into bankruptcy and was forced to move to a small rented house where he lived until his death in 1669.
The home has been fully restored to its original condition. Visitors see Rembrandt's kitchen, bedroom and painting gallery as if he still lived there today.
You may purchase tickets online at Rembrandthuis.nl, or at the museum. If you time your visit just right, you can head around the corner for lunch or afternoon treat at one of my favorite spots, Puccini.