Founded in 1838, Artis is the oldest zoo in the Netherlands, the oldest zoo in Europe, and the third oldest zoo in the world.
Guidebooks rightly refer to Artis as one of the most pleasant city zoos around, as the whole place breathes a 19th-century garden atmosphere with ponds, winding paths, majestic trees, fascinating sculptures and monumental historical buildings.
The zoo is in fact Amsterdam’s oldest city park, with 200 species of trees, some of which — like the evergreen live oak, common in the Mediterranean region — not native to the Netherlands.
The park includes remnants of some of the former Plantage gardens.
Not surprisingly many Amsterdam locals own a year pass to the zoo, allowing them to enjoy the park and its botanical gardens and greenhouses as much as the animals.
Speaking of which, wherever possible the animals enclosures do not include bars or cages — but the space-challenged zoo does have them, and many of the enclosures are cramped compared to those of newer zoos.
Earlier Jewish employees and members of the Board of Directors were forced to give up their jobs, and in 1941 the zoo was one of many places designated by the Nazis as ‘Forbidden to Jews’.
In 1943, a resistance group — intent on thwarting the German occupiers from finding people — set fire to the Amsterdam population registry, which was then housed in the former Artis concert hall.
Often associated with illness and disease, microbes are also essential for our survival. But are you aware that you carry about 3 pounds of microbes on and in you?
You will be after visiting Micropia — the world’s first museum where the invisible world of micro-organisms becomes visible.
All-day outing for Children and Adults
Featuring a wide collection of animals, and anything from a petting zoo to an indoor rain forest — and from playgrounds to a restaurant, you can easily spend an entire day at Artis.
It is lots of fun for children and adults alike.
Museums & Planetarium
Artis was founded on May 1, 1838 by the Royal Zoological Society ‘Natura Artis Magistra’ — Latin for ‘Nature is the Master of Art.’
Its purpose was: ‘to promote the knowledge of Natural History, in a clear and agreeable way; both by assembling an extensive collection of living animals and by displaying mounted exhibits from the animal kingdom.’
According to Artis, “In the first half of the 19th century, the combination of a zoo, scientific collections, a Zoological Laboratory and Museum as well as the academically exceptional Artis Library, was quite unique.”
The Zoological museum was later joined by a Planetarium and a Geological Museum.
The Artis Aquarium houses some 300 species of fish, amphibians and evertebrates. Its mammoth tanks each house very different ecosystems: the Amazonian flooded forest, the tropical coral reef and a cross section of an Amsterdam canal.
Artis address, ticket prices & opening times
Tickets Artis Zoo
|1 November to 31 March||9 am until 5 pm|
|1 January 2015||10 am until 5 pm|
|1 April to 31 October||9 am until 6 pm|
|ZOOmeravonden*||9 am until sunset|
* ‘Summer Nights at the Zoo,’ every Saturday during June, July and August
Natura Artis Magistra
Plantage Kerklaan 38-40
1018 CZ Amsterdam
(Mail: Artis, P.O. Box 20164, 1000 HD Amsterdam, The Netherlands)
Tel: 0900-2784796 [Amsterdam phone info]
How to get to Artis Zoo
Artis is best reached by taking trams 9 (from Central Station via Dam square, Munt and Rembrandtplein), 10 (via Leidseplen) or 14 (via Westerkerk and Dam square).
During the summer season the zoo can also be reached by canal boat: from Amsterdam Central Station, board the Artis Expres, a canal boat operated by Lovers shipping company
In the neighborhood
• Here are some other attractions in The Plantage district