University Library

Medieval Centre & Red Light District

Today's library is a concrete hulk, not nearly the beautiful building you'd expect at such a historical site, but its background is fascinating. Citizen militias used to meet here: the handboog (hand-bow) militia at No 421, and the voetboog (foot-bow) militia at No 425, which also served as headquarters for the Dutch West India Company. Now you know where the names of the nearby streets Handboogstraat and Voetboogstraat come from. Their firing ranges at the back reached to Kalverstraat.

The library itself is reserved for the university's students.

Lonely Planet's must-see attractions

Nearby Medieval Centre & Red Light District attractions

1. Krijtberg

0.05 MILES

The spiky spires of this neo-Gothic church are an unmissable landmark amid rows of handsome Singel homes. Officially known as the St Franciscus…

2. Torture Museum

0.06 MILES

It's dilapidated and so dimly lit inside that you can barely read the placards, but fans of kitsch and oddball lore will enjoy learning about devices such…

3. Heiligeweg

0.06 MILES

The Heiligeweg (Holy Way) was once part of a route that pilgrims took to the spot where the 1345 Miracle of Amsterdam occurred. Halfway along, and…

4. Spui

0.07 MILES

Inviting cafés (pubs) and high-brow bookshops ring the Spui, a favoured haunt of academics, students and journalists. On Friday (weather permitting) a…

5. Rasphuis Gate

0.07 MILES

Directly opposite Voetboogstraat on Heiligeweg is the Rasphuis Gate, which led to a correctional institute in medieval times. The pedestal bears the…

6. Bloemenmarkt

0.08 MILES

Flowers are not treats, but essentials in Amsterdam. Ever since 1860, this famous flower market has been located at the spot where nurserymen and women,…

7. Houten Huis

0.09 MILES

Located in the Begijnhof, the Houten Huis dates from around 1465, making it the oldest preserved wooden house in the Netherlands.

8. Begijnhof Kapel


Contained within the Begijnhof and dating from 1671, this is a 'clandestine' chapel where the Beguines were forced to worship after the Calvinists took…