Sometimes you just want a little ghostly fun, whether at home or while traveling. Well, at least I do. Does that make sound strange? I’m a huge Ghost Adventures fan and admittedly, I do love the darker side of history. Remember my visit to the Lizzie Borden house? With my EMF detector and ghost box in hand, I set off to experience some ghostly fun in Amsterdam with Danielle (CruiseMiss). Follow us on our journey for ghosts and more on the dark streets, back alleyways, and dungeons of Amsterdam.
Amsterdam Ghost Walk: When I’m looking for a ghostly adventure and all I can find are those silly ghost tours, it’s equally disappointing and insulting to my intelligence. They’re usually focused on having someone jump out and try to scare the bejesus out of someone on the tour for their own personal enjoyment. Fortunately for us, before our trip to Amsterdam we learned about a more authentic tour. Amsterdam Ghost Walk is definitely focused on storytelling and history while avoiding the usage of overused, outdated, and less than scary tactics. Our experienced tour guide, Bart (the one dressed in black carrying a walking stick), was so in character for the entire walk and really had us believing we were living in the dark history of Amsterdam.
As we walked all over Amsterdam, we learned that the Dutch, unlike me, aren’t fond of ghosts. Wait — let me correct myself. They are far too rational to believe in ghosts and so whether one believes in ghosts seems to them, completely irrelevant. Whether you visit Dam Square or de Bloedstraat (Blood Street), there’s a history of witches, demons, and ghosts in Amsterdam’s history and it’s all there for the telling. Bart, from Amsterdam Ghost Walk, had many stories to tell and we were listening and completely mesmerized with the details. We’re talking about an abundance of details including names, facts, figures, and dates all of which rolled off his tongue with great ease all while never sounding prepared or rehearsed. You can tell Bart has a passion for his job and that translates to a one of a kind experience for his guests.
One of Bart’s stories was about Spinhuis, an Amsterdam house of correction for women founded in 1597 in part of the former St. Ursula convent. Without divulging the entire story, let’s just say that it’s part love story and death. The building is now part of the University of Amsterdam, but Spinhuis‘ history and stories remain within its walls.
Now a little Amsterdam history for your entertainment. When we passed by the gate leading to Zuiderkerk (South Church) and Zuiderkerkhof (Southern Graveyard), we learned another interesting fact. Look up and you’ll see the skulls in the framework of the gate, which are said to be the skulls of the criminals who were hanged nearby. Apparently, they were placed here to serve as a warning to passersby. Don’t worry as they’re not human bones. They might have been in the past, but it looks as if they’ve been replaced with some kind of animal bones and hopefully, not human skulls.
Zuiderkerk, Amsterdam’s first Protestant church, was built in the 1600’s. The surrounding graveyard, Zuiderkerkhof, includes the graves of Rembrandt’s first son, Rombertus van Rijn and Amsterdam’s city architect, Hendrick de Keyser. If you think the skull gate is strange, try to imagine the sheer number of dead bodies that accumulated during the “hunger winter” of 1944-45. The bodies were temporarily stored and piled up in a temporary morgue at Zuiderkerk. While Zuiderkerk is no longer operating as a church, it held its last religious ceremony (a wedding) in 1929, it now functions as an Amsterdam city information center.
The 90-minute Amsterdam Ghost Walk leaves nightly from The Tara Irish Pub, located a mere three minutes away on foot from Dam Square. I definitely recommend beginning your night with a few drinks at The Tara Irish Pub before the start of your tour like we did. I had one of the few craft cocktails I was able to locate in all of Amsterdam. I present to you the Pornstar Martini made with vanilla vodka, passion fruit purée, and vanilla syrup and it was crazy good. Not like an old, beat up porn star, but more of a fresh, young porn star. The type you’d see on a site like tubev, not the ones from the old VHS tapes. Oh you get the idea. Never mind.
Groups are limited to 25 guests, all of which must be 10 years of age or older due to the subject matter. The small group size allows you to not only hear the guide’s commentary, but makes it far easier to interact with them as well. The tour price is only €15 per person, payable in cash at the start of the tour.
Our ghost walk with Bart took us all around Amsterdam’s dark streets and beneath the most ominous looking buildings rich with history. I have been on many ghost tours and walks and the Amsterdam Ghost Walk is authentic, entertaining, and definitely one of the best. If you’re looking for something different to do on your next trip to Amsterdam, definitely book your ghost walk far in advance as they do fill up quickly! If you’re not into ghosts and such but still would love a great Amsterdam tour, ask them about their other tours like the Folk Tale and Legends Walk of Amsterdam, Dutch Delicacy Tour, historical walks, and a special ghost walk just outside of Amsterdam in Broek in Waterland.
Amsterdam Dungeon: From the outside, the Amsterdam Dungeon looks innocuous and almost like any other storefront in Amsterdam. There’s even a BucketFeet shoe store located next door. How scary could this place actually be?
Upon entering, you’ll be guided to an area to take a picture – more on that later. Do that and now if you’re of the scaredy cat variety, best head straight to the restroom before entering the dungeon itself. As we made our way downstairs, this was the only place we were allowed to take photographs. Sorry! Let’s just say I really don’t like basements and those that look like the notorious Manson Family did the decorating only make me want to skip out immediately. But I didn’t because I wanted find out what was exactly going on inside the Amsterdam Dungeon.
What is the Amsterdam Dungeon? It’s an 80-minute walk through experience that allows you to delve into 500 years of Amsterdam’s horrible history. With small groups of less than 30 people, live actors, gripping stories, and state of the art special effects, no two experiences inside the Amsterdam Dungeon are alike. It’s not all gloom, doom, and gory stuff here. Believe it or not, there’s also plenty of fun and joking along the way so you don’t have to worry that you’ll be so scared you won’t want to visit.
After taking care of your tickets, you’re guided inside a large jail cell where the door is shut loudly behind you. A video plays on the wall to add to the sensory overload, which includes smells, sounds, sights, and more (dare I say feel or touch?) You’re led by one of the actors into an elevator where you then descend down into the Amsterdam Dungeon itself. The various actors in full character lead you room to room to experience all 11 shows. My personal favorite? Black John Autopsy despite the fact that I was brought in front of the Cardinal during the Spanish Inquisition. It was fun, I was obnoxious (what was my name?), but it was all good.
I especially love how they describe their “team” on their website:
You have to be very special to carve out a career at the Amsterdam Dungeon. Our colleagues are very special because:
- They have a bath at least once per month.
- Are really
notconcerned about your welfare.
- Are willing to suffer for their trade.
- Put the ‘kill’ in ‘skillset’.
- They always look out for the ‘weaker’ guests, so that they can ‘help’ them.
Before leaving, you’ll be led to an area where you can review and purchase your pictures that were taken of you during the tour. You know what that means? Yes — try not to have an ugly scared face because it will be immortalized forever. From the photo area, you can see what’s for sale in the gift shop before heading outside. But first, jump inside that coffin and take a picture. How often do get the chance to do that?
Tours are available in English or Dutch and depart every 10-15 minutes. In addition, they can accommodate groups including groups like birthday parties, schools, and even hen & stag parties. If you’re considering a visit to the Amsterdam Dungeon, plan your visit in advance to get the best available for tickets.
Now or Never Ticket (limited time online offer): Adults (16+) €14,50 and children (4-15) €10,50
Online Discount Tickets: Adults (16+) €17 and children (4-15) €13
At the door tickets: Adults (16+) €22 and children (4-15) €18
Overall, the Amsterdam Dungeon is a great interactive experience that can be scary at times, but also equally humorous. I was anxious throughout my experience, but in the end, it was informative, entertaining as I got to see Danielle scared and jumping out of her seat on more than one occasion, and best of all — nothing beats a crazy labyrinth that you need to find your way out of so as to exit the building. I definitely recommend this as a fun afternoon or evening with friends, especially if you know someone prone to getting scared. May not be fun for them, but you’ll have a great time!
The Amsterdam Dungeon
1012 KW Amsterdam
Phone: +31 (0)20-5308500
Although my EMF detector and ghost box sat idle in my bag in Amsterdam, I did have loads of fun. Do you like to be scared when you travel? Will you go out of your way for some ghostly fun?