Set in a large park, the Artis Royal Zoo is one of the best kept secrets of Amsterdam. It is located right in the city centre. Founded in 1838, it was the first zoo in the Netherlands and with its gardens, museums and library it soon became a vibrant centre of social life.
Visit the historical Aquarium and discover the vast diversity of life under water. Marvel at the aquatic tanks in the Main Hall, the Amazonian rainforest, the tropical coral reef and the authentic Amsterdam canal.
The Butterfly Pavilion is the largest of its kind in the Netherlands, covering a thousand square meters and housing thousands of butterflies. Butterflies flitter through the air, settling briefly on flowers in the colourful borders along the walkways, where you can move freely. Twice a day, butterflies that have just crawled out of their cocoons are released into the pavilion.
Depending on the season, the Butterfly Pavilion boasts dozens of butterfly species, including the spectacular Blue Morpho, one of the largest butterfly species, which gets its bright blue colour from the shimmering structure of its wings, and the exceptional Swallowtail Butterflies, the fastest-flying butterflies in the world.
Special films are shown every day in the curved, 628 m² dome of the Planetarium. Experience the universe by flying through space. The shows are in Dutch.
In 2005, the former food storage facility was converted into an Insectarium. Insects are the most successful creatures on earth; there are more than 750,000 species in this class. Artis has a large collection of insects for you to see.
Artis has gorgeous listed monuments and many historical buildings and unusual gardens. The characteristic buildings give Artis its unique charm and style. Several of the buildings date all the way back to before the zoo was established, including the Wolf House, which used to be an inn, and the Masman Garden House, which is now home to the scarlet ibises and other animals.
Artis was founded on 1 May 1838 by three wealthy citizens of Amsterdam. The full name of the zoo is Natura Artis Magistra, which means: nature is the teacher of art and science.
Artis started out as a park with an orangery where the petting zoo now stands. The first animals in Artis were a few monkeys, some parrots and other birds, and a Surinamese wildcat.
Until 1851, access to Artis was granted only to a select group of members. The ordinary people of Amsterdam were only allowed to visit the park later on – and even then only in September. Their admission fee in that one month was only 25 cents. Artis has been open to the public since 1920. September is still the discount month, with a 25% discount.
Artis rapidly expanded. Various plots of land were purchased, some with existing structures on them. The Wolf House is an example; once the Oak and Linden Inn, the building now stands in the middle of Artis.