About Amsterdam

Amsterdam is the capital of the Netherlands. With more than one million inhabitants in its urban area, it is the country's largest city and its financial, cultural, and creative centre. Amsterdam is colloquially known as Venice of the North, because of its lovely canals that criss-cross the city, its impressive architecture and more than 1,500 bridges. There is something for every traveller's taste here, whether you prefer culture and history, serious partying, or just the relaxing charm of an old European city.


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Amsterdam canals

The 17th century Canal Belt was placed on UNESCO's World Heritage list in 2011 and the medieval center of the city(The Red light district)is undergoing an extensive renovation with Project 1012. That name refers to the postal area code of that section of the city. That project aims to reduce prostitution in the area with at least 30 percent and to highlight the historical aspects of the oldest section of Amsterdam.

The oldest canals in the city - The Red light district

Amsterdam is the only ancient city in the world where the medieval center is not a museum but a Red light district. Already in the Middle ages, drinking houses were established around the first harbours in the city.

The first brothels here were opened in the 15th century, mainly in the Warmoesstraat and the alleys around it. But along the first canals in the area, rich merchants and regents established residence.


Begijnhof

Hidden in the heart of Amsterdam are the peaceful garden courtyard and historic buildings of the Begijnhof. Built as a residential community for lay women of the Catholic Church, the Begijnhof, also known as a Beguinage, has existed here at least since the 14th century. The row houses surrounding the courtyard are still private residences, but visitors to the courtyard garden, church and chapel are welcome.

“Tomorrow morning I am going to the English church; it lies there so peaceful in the evening in that silent Begijnhof among the thorn hedges…”
  • –Vincent van Gogh in a letter to his brother Theo, 25 November 1877


Dam Square

Dam Square was created in the 13th century when a dam was built around the river Amstel to prevent the Zuiderzee Sea from flooding the city, causing damage and endangering the citizens of Amsterdam.

Through the centuries, a number of buildings sprung up around the Square, special events were (and still are) held here, and street entertainers are a common site. In the 1960s, Dam Square was famous for the "hippie" population that hung out at the location.

Addition to several restaurants, cafés, and shops, there are many excellent attractions to visit in Dam Square. The most prominent is the Royal Palace (Koninklijk Palace). Built as a city hall for the magistrates of Amsterdam, it was the largest secular building in Europe in the 17th century.

The Dutch royal family no longer lives here, but many special events are still held at the palace. It is open to the public when no special events are being held.