When exploring Amsterdam’s famous canal belt, make sure you take some time to visit the most extensive municipal archives in the world, right at the Vijzelstraat, a long street where three of the old main canals converge.
De Bazel, the edifice you’re heading to, is named after its architect, Karel de Bazel, who designed, in the twenties of the last century, this monumental exemplary of Brick Expressionism. The former headquarters of the Dutch Trade Society is now home to the Stadsarchief – the City Archives -, as well as a conference center, a restaurant, and a library specializing in books about the city.
My favorite part of this building is the Schatkamer, or Treasure Room, located on floor -1, in a magnificent vault room in Art Nouveau. The exhibition inside showcases essential periods of the city’s history through images by iconic Dutch photographers, maps, drawings, and other artifacts. There is even a movie theatre, in the very back of the gallery, where I like to sit on rainy days, watching documentaries on Amsterdam. And the cherry on top of the cake: it’s all free of charge.