It took me a long time to realise that the gardens surrounding the Rijksmuseum were free to enter and boasted more than just a few flower beds and garden chairs. There is a permanent collection of statues and sculptures as well as seasonal installations which this year already has included works by Spanish Artist Joan Miró and currently, Giuseppe Penone's crazy marble, bronze and gold tree sculptures are adding a special little twist to what is effectively an outdoor extension of the Rijksmuseum. Or rather, a free outdoor extension and considering the Rijks is one of the more expensive museums in Amsterdam this is not to be sniffed at. Furthermore, you really do need to buy a ticket in advance to avoid the queues, so to have a part of the Rijksmuseum that you can just walk into and wander around is quite special.
Plus, there's a cafe, an oversized chess board and a water fountain feature that you can stand in the middle of and take cool photos in. That's pretty much what we did for most of the time we were there with my parents. That and watched a very intense game of chess being played out by some French tourists. My mum pointed out how the plants were bee-friendly, which is a great thing, and I was pleasantly surprised to find the old city gates on display on the one side I hadn't yet explored.
I used to come to the Rijskmuseumtuinen last summer when I was pregnant just to rest my legs and sit down for a while after I'd over optimistically decided a day standing up in a museum would be good for my swollen ankles... This summer I've taken my little boy there in his buggy more than a few times and next year he'll probably be running around it. That makes this garden a very special place.
So add it to your list if you're looking for a calm, cultural and free, free, FREE place to sit down and relax in between museums, coffee shops or whatever it is you're coming to Amsterdam for.
Frances M. Thompson
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