Amsterdam’s humongous main railway station is an architectural masterpiece. Designed by Dutch architect P.J.H. Cuypers, who also built the Rijksmuseum, it was built between 1884 and 1889 on three artificial islands in the IJ waterway. Amsterdammers thoroughly disliked the building when it debuted, but it’s now beloved for its extravagantly ornate, two-tone Dutch Revivalist facade covered in allegorical tributes to Amsterdam’s maritime past. The left-hand tower is adorned with a gilded weathervane; the right one with a clock. Apart from being the jumping-off point for thousands of adventures in Amsterdam, the terminus also acts as a transport hub, with trams and taxis leaving from Stationsplein in front and buses from outside the new retail-packed IJ-hall on the back side; ferries also depart from the piers behind the building. The main Iamsterdam Visitor Center is in Stationsplein, and it is the starting point for canal cruises. It’s worth catching your breath here and taking time to absorb the buzz that swirls around the station in a blur of people, backpacks, bikes, trams, buses, vendors, pickpockets, and junkies. The air of crazy chaos is augmented by the station being in a fairly constant state of renovation.