Vondelpark, a sanctuary for weary city dwellers and enthusiastic joggers
Attractions, Netherlands
 16 Jun '24
 22 |  0 

Ah, Vondelpark! The green heart of Amsterdam, a verdant tapestry woven with history, culture, and a touch of whimsy. Let’s take a stroll down memory lane and through the present to uncover the layers of this urban oasis.

Ground for free spirits and flower children in the 60s and 70s

Once upon a time, in the not-so-distant past, Vondelpark was the stomping ground for free spirits and flower children. The 1960s and 70s painted the park with vibrant hues of peace, love, and rock ‘n’ roll. It was a place where hippies could be hippies, strumming guitars, and sharing utopian dreams under the watchful eyes of Joost van den Vondel’s statue.

Named after Joost van den Vondel

But what about the park’s significance, you ask? Well, it’s named after the aforementioned Joost van den Vondel, a 17th-century Dutch playwright whose words probably resonated with the park’s later bohemian residents. The park itself was a gift from a group of philanthropic Amsterdammers back in 1865, who probably never imagined it would one day become a hippie haven.

Fast forward to today, and Vondelpark has retained its unique charm, albeit with a more manicured look. It’s like that cool aunt who used to be in a band but now enjoys quiet tea parties – still cool, just a bit more refined. With over 10 million visitors a year, it’s clear that Vondelpark still holds a special place in the hearts of locals and tourists alike.

Is the Vondelpark really special?

Is it different from other parks? Absolutely! It’s not every day you find a park that has hosted a hippie movement, boasts a Picasso sculpture, and serves as a sanctuary for weary city dwellers and enthusiastic joggers alike. Vondelpark is a patchwork quilt of Amsterdam’s soul – a place where history, nature, and modern life seamlessly blend together.

So, there you have it – Vondelpark, a park with a past as colorful as the tulips that bloom within its borders and a present that continues to enchant and welcome all who wander its paths. It’s more than just a park; it’s a living, breathing chronicle of Amsterdam’s ever-evolving story. And who knows? Maybe the hippie spirit still lingers in the rustle of the leaves and the gentle strum of a distant guitar. Peace out!

The meaning of the Picasso sculpture

The Picasso sculpture in Vondelpark, known as “Figure découpée l’Oiseau” (Bird Cut Out), is a towering testament to creativity and friendship. Gifted to Amsterdam by Picasso in 1965, it was meant to be a bird, but the locals lovingly dubbed it “Picasso’s Fish” due to its resemblance to a fish rather than a feathered friend.

Picasso and Nesjar

This sculpture stands as a quirky emblem of the park, a blend of artistic vision and public interpretation. Picasso, the mastermind behind the small, original scale model, collaborated with Norwegian artist Carl Nesjar to bring the larger-than-life version to Vondelpark. Nesjar, known for his “betograve” technique, transformed Picasso’s vision into the eight-meter-high concrete sculpture that graces the park today.

The creation process was a dance of artistry and engineering – white concrete poured over black stones, set, then sandblasted to reveal Picasso’s design. It’s a piece that captures the essence of collaboration, with Nesjar’s execution bringing Picasso’s design to three-dimensional life.

So, next time you find yourself wandering through Vondelpark, take a moment to admire this unique piece of art. It’s more than just a sculpture; it’s a story of artistic partnership, a gift of friendship, and a beloved landmark that continues to spark the imagination of visitors. Whether you see a bird or a fish, it’s a sight to behold and a slice of cultural history nestled in the greenery of Amsterdam’s favorite park. Peace, love, and Picasso – Vondelpark has it all!

What other art installations are there in Vondelpark?

Vondelpark is not just a park; it’s an open-air gallery where nature and art play tag. Besides the famous Picasso sculpture, the park is a treasure trove of artistic expressions that might make you say, “Hmm, that’s… interesting.”

The rosarium

First up, let’s talk about the “Rosarium,” a garden that’s like the botanical version of a beauty pageant, with roses strutting their stuff and tulips adding a splash of color like they’re competing for the title of Miss Flora 2024. It’s a floral spectacle that’ll have you reaching for your camera – or your allergy medication.

The open air theatre

Then there’s the “Openluchttheater”, an open-air theatre that’s seen more drama than your favorite soap opera. It’s where art comes to life, and if you’re lucky, you might catch a performance that doesn’t involve pigeons stealing the show.

Groot Melkhuis

For the little ones (and the young at heart), there’s the Groot Melkhuis playground, which is basically the Disneyland of playgrounds. It’s where kids can burn off that stroopwafel-induced energy while parents practice the fine art of “supervised lounging”.

Art exhibitions

But wait, there’s more! The park often hosts temporary art exhibitions and installations that are as fleeting as a Dutch summer. These pieces are like the park’s version of pop-up shops, but instead of selling overpriced vintage clothes, they’re showcasing art that makes you go, “I don’t get it, but I like it”.

“Moses” sculpture

And let’s not forget the pièce de résistance, the “Moses” sculpture by Atelier Van Lieshout. This giant rhino with a labyrinthine structure is like a cross between a maze and a “Where’s Waldo?” book. It’s an art piece that invites you to ponder deep questions, like “What am I looking at?” and “Did that rhino just wink at me?”.


So there you have it, folks. Vondelpark is more than just a patch of green in the middle of Amsterdam; it’s a playground for the imagination, a haven for art lovers, and a place where even the statues might judge your fashion choices. It’s the kind of park where you can enjoy a leisurely stroll, get lost in a sculpture, and still make it home in time for dinner. Unless, of course, you’re really bad at mazes. Then you might want to pack a snack. Peace, love, and artful dodging – Vondelpark has it all! Peace out!

Post expires at 3:41pm on Monday September 16th, 2024

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