Novelist Jessie Burton on Amsterdam

The author of The Miniaturist on the beguiling blend of tradition and modernity (and pancakes) in a city that provided the inspiration for her 17th-century-set debut novel and Waterstones Book of the Year 2014

Amsterdam is classically romantic but is also funky, forward-thinking and citizen-friendly. In the old centre, around the southern canal belt, there are these beautiful 17th-century merchants’ houses that 21st-century Amsterdammers still live in. I’ve always thought it wears its historical cloak quite casually and doesn’t just dwell in the past.

The Rijksmuseum is stunning and I love it as a fascinating, cool, accessible museum, as well as for the part it played in inspiring The Miniaturist. I came across Petronella Oortman’s doll’s house there by chance. It’s an exact scale replica of her real home, and Oortman spent a fortune having it created. I thought at the time it was an interesting story, but I didn’t think I was going to write a novel about it. I’m in its debt, really.

Related: Top 10 pop-up restaurants and food experiences in Amsterdam

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