Natura Artis Magistra – Amsterdam, Netherlands.

We were lucky to come across this beautiful little gem of a zoo during our, unfortunately, short trip to Amsterdam last September (2013). Artis, for short, is situated in the heart of Amsterdam and happens to be the oldest Zoo in the Netherlands, founded in 1838.

Image(Image © Phen Weston)

It was a beautiful day in Amsterdam, warm and inviting with a sense of fun in the air, and why not, Amsterdam is, after all, an amazing lively and unique city. Likewise, so is its Artis.

Like most things in Holland, Artis is an elegant mixture of outstanding symmetry and unusual lines that gives the zoo a unique feel when walking around, like Holland itself. This is apparent when first entering Artis and seeing animals that only appear to be kept in by the smallest of canals. This wonderful touch, wholeheartedly Dutch in style, gives you the sense of being closer to those species that call it their home. Adding to this is the cohabitation of some of the animals, such as Giraffes and Zebras, allowing the visitor a sense of actually being out on the African plains themselves. No easy feat when considering its location in the centre of a bustling metropolis. These touches create a unique experience for the visitor, one that I haven’t found with any other zoo (so far). Usually there is a air of distance from the animals and nature that makes the whole experience feel somehow fake, yet Artis manages to defy this with style.

Image(Image © Phen Weston)

As for what animals are available for your viewing pleasure, well with roughly 900 species spread over 35 acres, there is bound to be many to take your fancy. I personally couldn’t get enough of the staggering, beautiful elephants and giraffes, as well as the regal lion and his pride. Of course anywhere that has penguins always captures my hearts (I don’t know why I have such a soft spot for these strange stubborn looking birds, but I just find them fascinating). There are also many other animals as well,  from camels, to chimps, to crocodiles (and other letters too). There truly is an amazing mixture… and if you want more, there is also an Aquarium, Butterfly pavilion, Planetarium, and Insectarium. Not to mention the beautiful gardens that wind their way through the grounds, with 300 different species of plant life.

Image(Image © Phen Weston)

It is an amazing place for all the family, there were plenty of children filled with excitement over the charismatic sights they were witnessing. Entry is a little under €20 for an adult, €17 for under 9 years old, and well worth every cent (you can easily spend most of a day there). Outside the walls, the hustle and bustle of Amsterdam goes on, but for a beautiful, relaxing break Artis is a great place to go. We fell in love with the zoo, myself and my fiancé are big animal lovers, and we will be going back again.

Image(Image © Phen Weston)

Plus the restaurant does a nice apple pie too (A Dutch specialty I believe).

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(Image © Phen Weston)

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(Image © Phen Weston)

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(Image © Phen Weston)

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(Image © Phen Weston)

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