POINTS OF INTEREST
Established in 1848, the city's archives comprise millions of maps, drawings, prints, books, photographs, and film about Amsterdam: there are a staggering 40 km worth, making it the largest archives in the world. The highlights–-300 of the "most attractive, unusual, valuable, and moving" items–-are on permanent display in the Treasury, former bank vaults that look like the tomb of an Egyptian pharaoh. The epic checkerboard building, completed in 1926 and named in honor of its theosophist architect Karel de Bazel, is also fascinating and infused with its creator's religious beliefs. In theosophy, a building is an art form that can express a higher message using mathematical principles to achieve total harmony. Have deep thoughts over lunch in the café or browse the excellent on-site bookstore, which sells just about every available Amsterdam-relevant publication. The special exhibitions are usually also excellent.