The Red Light District
De Wallen is the red light district in Amsterdam where De Oude Kerk (Old Church) is located.
I wasn’t actually specifically going to this area for the very reason it is named after. I was looking for De Hetkleinstehuis (The Smallest House) and Oude Kerk. One thing I noticed was the increasing presence of bars, “coffee shops”, strip clubs and sex shops on my way there (compared to other areas) displaying all bits and pieces forbidden to be sold legally and openly in my own country 😀
Oh, and since we are in the Netherlands, note that a “coffee shop” is not the same with those in other parts of the world. It is a place where you can legally buy and smoke marijuana.
Anywaaay, after spending some time checking out all the gears and sent pictures to my friends (in case they were interested), I went back on track. I was focused on my sole purpose at that time – to reach Oude Kerk before it was closed – when I heard a female voice from behind me shouting “Hello! Hello!”, to which I automatically turned my head. To my surprise, right across Oude Kerk, were old houses with floor-to-ceiling glass windows displaying several tall, bulky women of different races and ages in lingerie and fishnet stockings. They were all shouting to people passing by. The men walking past them seemed intrigued but pretended not to care. 😆 Unfortunately, I did not take any pictures. I mean, I could have from the distance, but it would be just disrespectful and tacky. And I also read that people are not allowed that take photographs of the sex workers and to even just stare at them anymore!
On a hindsight, red light districts are usually associated with areas where questionable activities take place and a person must take extra precaution in terms of his/her own safety. But I didn’t feel it that way (I went past this area again the day after when it was a bit late), it was just like any other part of the old town (plus that particular scene).
De Oude Kerk (Old Church)
The church was founded in early 13th century, initially a wooden chapel then replaced with a stone church a century later. It was also a Roman Catholic church in the beginning and then the Calvinists took over during Reformation in the 16th century. It now functions as a museum and also for exhibitions. The roof is astonishingly tall and large, the largest medieval wooden vault in Europe.
When I was there, there was an art installation about “death”. So, a lot of coats and jackets that belonged to deceased people were arranged on the floors. Some were also hung on hangers with speakers next to them emitting certain sound effect and question “Are you afraid of the death?”. Well, it surely was a bit creepy but also made one contemplate about life and death.