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Selina Kok for The Boston Globe

Savvy travelers to Amsterdam know that being one of the first in line at the majestic Rijksmuseum, the Dutch national treasure trove of art and culture, means a few quiet moments with the country's most beloved work of art: Rembrandt's "The Night Watch." The magic starts on the way to the 19th-century museum, when one can cross streets devoid of the usual tangle of cars, bicycles, and trams, and follow 400-year-old canals running with uncharacteristically smooth water. On a Sunday morning the Rijksmuseum, which reopened in April after a decade of renovations, is all but deserted. Visitors enter into the museum's spacious atrium, where they can plot their way through eight centuries of art spread over 80 rooms. "Night Watch" hangs at the end of a long cathedral-like hall adorned with stained glass and ornate wall decorations. Head straight there, because a sparse audience in front of the world-famous military portrait, renowned for its use of light, shadow, and motion, and for its size (about 12-by-14 feet), won't be the case for long.



Diane Daniel