Located in a narrow walkway that runs between quintessential Dutch canal houses, Oudemanhuispoort can literally be translated as ‘Old Man’s House Passage’ and the interesting name is really a tantalising peek at the arcade’s rich history. Once frequented by Van Gogh, this covered walkway is now home to a sizable selection of stalls selling second-hand books (a Boekenmarkt). Here’s your best guide regarding how to visit (and shop in) Oudenmanhuispoort for yourself…
Oudemanhuispoort in around 1900 via Wikipedia
Oudemanhuispoort: A Secret Covered Passage in Amsterdam
Dating completely back to the 17th-century, this passage gives way to a building of the name ‘Oud Man Huis’, ‘Old Man House’ Once operating being an almshouses for the elderly, the now University of Amsterdam building (dedicated to Amsterdam Research Institute for Legal Studies) are available halfway through the passage once the brickwork reveals and reveals the hidden green space.
Over time, your building has served lots of other purposes. This includes time like a hospital for cholera patients, a convent, as well as an arts academy. At some point, the dwelling even housed several paintings by Dutch greats like Vermeer and Rembrandt. In time, this collection would will continue to form the basis of what's the impressive Rijksmuseum on Museumplein.
If you need to see a similarly beautiful set of almshouses within the city today, be sure to head to a few of these beautiful Amsterdam hofjes. Meanwhile, the stunning secret courtyard before Oudemanhuispoort has become filled with benches and it is the perfect spot to relax, or at the minimum, peruse through your new book purchases.
During the mid-18th-century, the passageway that once led to the almshouses was repurposed for selling goods. Sellers would then vend their wares like jewels and goods, right up until the stage where the City of Amsterdam relocated the daily book market from Rembrandtplein to Oudemanhuispoort. From 1877 towards the 1970s, professional blade sharpeners also operated in the region.
In more modern times, it’s said that several artists, including Vincent Van Gogh, were so drawn to the passage, especially, the gorgeous Japanese prints found there, that it’s said to have influenced the course of his artwork forever. Today, you can shop in the many stalls that line both sides from the passages between Oudezijds Achterburgwal and Kloveniersburgwal.
How to go to Oudemanhuispoort
Free to wander along, most books found in the second-hand book stalls are written in Dutch, though a few English volumes and other language tomes are hidden among the mass of books. All stalls are cash only and as well as books, you will probably find maps, written music, and even plenty of old prints and posters.
Be sure to bring enough cash as if some books can be bought for as low as a few euro, other wares are well on the hundred euro, and also the average cost of books is commonly around EUR10-15. Book vendors are generally open every day from around 11:30 am – 6:00 pm due to the fact that the University of Amsterdam requires that vendors open at least four times per week.