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The Begijnhof is a small grassed courtyard surrounded (Credit: AP)

The Begijnhof is a small grassed courtyard surrounded by beautiful 17th- and 18th-century houses that were originally built for pious Catholic single women. It's right in the middle of town and reachable by a gateway at the end of a lane leading off one of the city's busiest shopping streets, but it is almost eerily silent. (March 12, 2013)

Amsterdam

From its canals -- which turn 400 this year -- to the newly reopened Rijksmuseum, the Dutch capital offers plenty for tourists in search of history and beauty.

The Begijnhof is a small grassed courtyard surrounded
(Credit: AP)

The Begijnhof is a small grassed courtyard surrounded by beautiful 17th- and 18th-century houses that were originally built for pious Catholic single women. It's right in the middle of town and reachable by a gateway at the end of a lane leading off one of the city's busiest shopping streets, but it is almost eerily silent. (March 12, 2013)

One of Amsterdam's newest landmarks is a stark,
(Credit: AP)

One of Amsterdam's newest landmarks is a stark, white film institute called the EYE, perched on northern bank of the Ij waterway. (April 21, 2012)

The EYE Film Institute's is perched on northern
(Credit: AP)

The EYE Film Institute's is perched on northern bank of the Ij waterway. (April 21, 2012)

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The EYE Film Institute's cafe and its terrace
(Credit: AP)

The EYE Film Institute's cafe and its terrace offer front-row seats for watching barges chug along the Ij waterway against a backdrop of the city skyline. (Jan. 9, 2013)

Workers push a container holding Rembrandt's
(Credit: Getty Images)

Workers push a container holding Rembrandt's "The Night Watch" in the Rijksmuseum in Amsterdam. The painting, which hung in the Philipsvleugel for nine years while the Rijksmuseum underwent renovations, has been returned to its home museum. (March 27, 2013)

The exterior of the Rijksmuseum, as preparations are
(Credit: Getty Images)

The exterior of the Rijksmuseum, as preparations are made for the return of Rembrandt's "The Night Watch."

A canal cruise boat passes underneath one of
(Credit: AP)

A canal cruise boat passes underneath one of Amsterdam's many bridges. (March 18, 2013)

A horse-drawn cart turns onto one of Amsterdam's
(Credit: AP)

A horse-drawn cart turns onto one of Amsterdam's many bridges. (Jan. 17, 2012)

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Amsterdam's canals are 400 years old this year,
(Credit: AP)

Amsterdam's canals are 400 years old this year, but strolling along the waterways never gets old. (March 20, 2013)

People sit in the courtyard of the Amsterdam
(Credit: AP)

People sit in the courtyard of the Amsterdam Museum. (March 12, 2013)

A waitress cleans a table at the Amsterdam
(Credit: AP)

A waitress cleans a table at the Amsterdam Museum's cafe Mokum. (March 12, 2013)

A somewhat hidden -- and free -- gem
(Credit: AP)

A somewhat hidden -- and free -- gem in Amsterdam is the Schuttersgalerij, or Civil Guard Gallery, of the Amsterdam Museum. The a short, covered passageway is home to, among other things, a handful of smaller portraits of civil guards. (March 19, 2013)

A sculpture by Spanish artist Pablo Picasso titled
(Credit: AP)

A sculpture by Spanish artist Pablo Picasso titled "The Fish" (1965) sits in Vondelpark. Amsterdam's most famous park is 116 acres filled with ponds, tree-lined pathways, kids' playgrounds an open-air theater and cafes. (March 18, 2013)

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