With 10 million visitors a year, Amsterdam’s Vondelpark is the most popular park in the Netherlands.
The Vondelpark, named after Dutch poet Joost van den Vondel, opened to the public in 1865. In 1996 it was declared a Rijksmomument (Governmental Monument).
Covering 470.000 square meters, the park includes fields of grass, trees, rose bushes, various ponds, playgrounds, etctera.
During the seventies the Vondelpark was a prime hangout for hippies — and on sunny days the park often still exudes a relaxed atmosphere.
Yet despite Amsterdam’s ‘Anything-Goes’ reputation, use of the park is subject to a strict set of rules — with one controversial exception.
On its official website, Amsterdam City states that 10 million visitors annually works out to 21 people per square meter. ” In comparison, Central Park in New York is visited by approx. 5 people per square meter” the city claims.
Hence the need for clear rules.
Allowed at Vondelpark:
- Picnics, but dispose of your rubbish properly
- Daytime recreation
- Barbeques, but dispose of your rubbish properly
- Acoustic music
- Cycling and skating, but only on asphalt paths
- Sunbathing everywhere
- Dogs are welcome but on a leash near playgrounds
- Selling food and drinks (licensed operators exempted)
- Leaving your dog’s mess behind
- Driving a scooter, moped or car
- Campfires or open flames
- Amplified music or percussion instruments
- Sunbathing in the nude
- Staying overnight or camping
The prohibition against nude sunbathing within the Vondelpark is somewhat odd as doing so is allowed in many parks in other European cities. Indeed, it is tolerated in many parks and nature areas throughout Amsterdam and the rest of Holland as well.
Topless sunbathing is OK at Vondelpark, but you are more likely to see young women strip down to bra and/or panties to catch some rays during their lunch break.
The controversial exception to the rules? Read this news item:
Dog owners angry at public sex plan
Dog owners in Amsterdam are angry after the city legalised public sex in one of the city’s most famous parks.
Councillors agreed that heterosexual and gay couples could have sex in the Vondelpark which has ten million visitors a year.
But they promised to clampdown on dog owners who let their pets walk in the park without a lead.
One dog owner protested: “As long as the park has existed, we’ve been allowed to let our dogs run freely. It’s outrageous that we will be punished from now on but public sex won’t.”
A spokesman for the council which runs the southern part of Amsterdam said: “When the dogs are not kept on a leash they pee on whatever they see and they cause a lot of nuisance for other visitors.”
Alderman Paul Van Grieken defended the decision to allow public sex in the park from September.
“Why should we oppose a rule on something you can’t oppose a rule on. Moreover it isn’t a nuisance for the other visitors and gives a lot of pleasure to a certain group of people,” he said.
“There still are rules,” he added. “They must take their garbage with them afterwards and never have intercourse near the playground. The sex must be limited to the evening hours and night.”
– Source: Orange, Mar. 10, 2008
The park falls under the authority of the decentralised city council, Stadsdeel Oud-Zuid. Few people in Amsterdam try and understand the odd behavior of those who rule over the city’s boroughs. Doing so would be an exercise in futility.
Meanwhile, a spokesperson for the Amsterdam police department has declared that police will indeed take action against those who ‘cruise’ in a manner likely to cause offense.
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