A former church in Amsterdam is now a temple to popular music and one of the most worshipped concert venues in the Netherlands.
Ask a native Amsterdammer the way to Paradiso and they may get all misty-eyed when talking about their beloved concert venue in the heart of the Dutch capital. This iconic music hall, slash nightclub, slash art hub, slash lecture theater, slash café never gets old because the events program of the Paradiso Foundation is always moving with the times.
Having been squatted by hippies during “the Summer of Love,” the former church originally attracted an alternative crowd. However, when the Cosmic Relaxation Center Paradiso opened to entertain the youth of Amsterdam in 1968, weed-smoking and beer-drinking rock fans soon took over. In later decades the more political punk movement and rave and house music fans have kept Paradiso on its toes.
What the building lacks in size and acoustics, this former church makes up for in ambiance. The main concert hall still has the original high ceilings and a symbolical “Holy Trinity” of illuminated church windows above the stage.
Pink Floyd was one of the first bands to perform here, giving the venue instant fame. Since then, many world-famous artists have wowed their fans here, including the Rolling Stones, Madonna, Bowie and Lady Gaga.
Club Paradiso is the name for the pop temple’s evening program and these shows take place all over Amsterdam. Dance nights with DJs are a regular event. Get your tickets at the box office in the nearby Leidseplein, online or at the door.
Come back to Paradiso during the day to mingle with the students in Paradiso’s grand café and admire the artworks. Notice how the 10 stained-glass windows of The Modern Moral artwork depict today’s ethical dilemmas. Find the cross-shaped light sculpture Our Polite Society above the bar in the venue’s Small Hall.
Before you leave, check out the Small Museum on the façade of the building, which is just a small encased window cabinet with rotating artworks.
Paradiso is just steps away from the lively Leidseplein and also near the popular Holland Casino and Vondelpark. It is best to travel by tram or ride a bike here like the locals do because there are very few parking spaces nearby.