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Janina Ramirez and Alastair Sooke discover the art and design of Amsterdam - a city that pioneered much of modern life, from multinational trade to how we design our homes.

With sumptuous palaces, exquisite artworks and stunning architecture, every great city offers a dizzying multitude of artistic highlights. In this series, art historians Dr Janina Ramirez and Alastair Sooke take viewers on three cultural city breaks, hunting for off-the-beaten-track artistic treats and finding new ways of enjoying some very famous sights.

In this opening episode, they head to Amsterdam, a city that pioneered so much of modern life, from multinational trade to the way we design our homes. To find out how, Alastair and Janina take us on a fast-paced tour of the city's cultural hotspots. Picking their way through the crowds queuing to see Rembrandt at the Rijksmuseum, they also introduce us to the paintings of Jan Steen, a Dutch legend whose paintings capture the city's freewheeling lifestyle.

They take us on an entertaining tour of the canals that helped build Amsterdam and explore the city's reputation for tolerance in the oldest surviving Jewish library in the world. Along the way, Alastair and Janina discover how art and culture reflect the liberal attitudes, appetite for global trade and love of home comforts that helped shape the character of this trailblazing city.

59 minutes

Last on

Wed 20 Feb 2019 23:25

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Music Played

Timings (where shown) are from the start of the programme in hours and minutes

  • 00:01


    The Only Way 

  • 00:02


    Coming Back

  • 00:04

    Michael Kiwanuka


  • 00:08

    Maribou State


  • 00:11

    Chilly Gonzales

    Never Stop

  • 00:16


    To Heal

  • 00:17


    Lovers in Japan / Reign of Love

  • 00:21


    Something Good

  • 00:22


    2 Trees

  • 00:24

    Badly Drawn Boy

    Once Around the Block

  • 00:26


    2 Trees

  • 00:27

    Jamie Woon

    Night Air

  • 00:29

    Lou Rhodes


  • 00:32


    Easy Way Out

  • 00:36


    Black Gold

  • 00:46


    Charlie Brown

  • 00:51

    Four Tet

    As Serious As Your Life

  • 00:48

    Arcade Fire

    Scenes From The Suburbs

  • 00:53

    Four Tet

    She Just Likes To Fight

  • 00:53

    Four Tet

    As Serious As Your Life

  • 00:55


    Best Be Believing

  • 00:56

    Rhian Sheehan

    Mild Card

  • 00:56

    Arctic Monkeys


  • 00:57

    Parov Stelar

    Kiss 'Em Twice


Role Contributor
Presenter Janina Ramirez
Presenter Alastair Sooke
Producer Kemi Majekodunmi
Series Producer Ruth Shurman
Executive Producer Richard Bright
Director Colin Rothbart


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From fascism to fado: Five fascinating ways to discover Lisbon

From fascism to fado: Five fascinating ways to discover Lisbon

Janina Ramirez and Alastair Sooke take in the artistic highlights of Portugal's capital