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Thirteen questions – Linda Bouws

Linda Bouws, director of Felix Meritis, European Centre for Art, Culture and Science gives her take on Amsterdam.

What’s your first Amsterdam memory?

Ice and sand: ice on the pond of the Vondelpark where I skated and sand in the sandbox on the Museumplein.

What’s your favourite Amsterdam-related work of art?

The work of the German artist Max Beckmann during his Amsterdam period.

If someone has a single day in Amsterdam, what should they do?

Grab a bike and go cycling. Let yourself be seduced by what you find along the way: explore the Amsterdam canals; catch a ferry to Noord; go to the Dappermarkt, and if you still have the energy, go through the Nine Streets.

What’s your favourite statue in the city?

The Holocaust Memorial in the Jewish cultural quarter. The name of my mother’s family is there to read: they have no grave so this is a place to remember them.

In which building would you want to spend the night?

The Amstel Hotel.

What is the best characteristic of your fellow citizens?

They are direct and fairly straightforward.

What’s the worst?

They have a short fuse.

What’s your favourite mode of transport?

I do basically everything in the city by bike.

Tell us something about the city we don’t know.

Like Faust, Amsterdammers have ‘two souls in one breast’, and they can become engrossed in both. Foreign visitors often think that a kind of armed truce exists between cyclists and motorists. And it’s true: cyclists are also motorists and vice versa, only each at a different time.

Where is the best view of Amsterdam?

At the Observatory of Felix Meritis: you really get an amazing 360-degree view. We reopen the Observatory in our 225th anniversary year, with an exhibition connecting the stars, the canals and landmarks in the city. Four telescopes are not aimed at the sky but at quotes, in neon letters on buildings throughout the city.

Only from the Observatory are they all readable. ‘Desire is the very essence of man’ by Spinoza adorns De Nederlandsche Bank; Vondel’s ‘The world’s a stage’ is visible on the city theatre. From 19 April until the end of October you can visit and dream a little about the greatness of our city (

What delicacy is only available here?

There are at least two that you should taste; I myself cannot choose between the stroopwafels from Lanskroon ( and the sweetbread croquettes from Holtkamp on the Vijzelstraat (

What restaurant do you recommend?

I really love the casual atmosphere of Café Restaurant Amsterdam ( And if you like personal service and excellent cuisine in an intimate atmosphere, Aan de Amstel (, from the renowned cook and cookbook writer Yvette van Boven, is for you.

What is your favourite public building?

Schiphol, an airport in proportion to the size of megalomaniac Amsterdam, but intimate with its nice tight simplicity.