Amsterdam Daily Photo via rl reeves jr

This looming statue of Dutch artist Rembrandt Harmenszoon van Rijn holds sway over the plein (square) that bears his name. But it was not always so. From 1668 til 1876 the plein was named Botermarkt, so called as it hosted dairy sales for the town’s 200,000 inhabitants.

The Dutch were producing the finest butter on earth and the townspeople queued up daily to make their purchases. Nowadays things have changed a mite. While Mille Colonnes Hotel (est. 1889) and Schiller Karena Hotel (est. 1892) offer a look at the plein’s past, scruffy little coffeeshops like the Bushdoctor and rave clubs like Escape draw backpackers and tourists to the neighborhood.

It’s a diverse scene.

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