Things to do in Amsterdam
The first mention of the name “Amsterdam” in historical documents dates back to an act of Florent V, Count of Holland from 1256 to 1296. The document, called “Exemption from Amsterdam taxes” (Tolprivilege van Amsterdam) and dated October 1275 exempts the few hundred inhabitants of the “Dam on the Amstel” from paying taxes on the trade of their products within the county of Holland and on their dam-bridge over the Amstel, built around 1270. These inhabitants are referred to in Latin as “homines manentes apud Amestelledamme (literally, people living near the Amstel dam). In the space of a few years, this word evolved into its almost final form of Amsterdam, as evidenced by writings of 1327. At that time, Amsterdam was nothing more than a fishing village attached to the bishopric. of Utrecht. This toll exemption then gives the Amsterdam residents a competitive advantage for foreign trade and allows Amsterdam to become Holland’s leading commercial center, and to lay the foundations for its future wealth and power.
The borough of Amsterdam obtains the statute of a city in 1300 or 1306, probably by the bishop of Utrecht, Gui d’Avesnes, and becomes an important commercial place in the fourteenth century, thanks to its port which develops on the Damrak, downstream of the original dam. Trade, especially with India, however, remained dominated, initially, by the port of Antwerp, confining Amsterdam to trade mainly with the cities of the Hanseatic League.
In 1345, an alleged miracle that occurred on the Kalverstraat made Amsterdam an important center of pilgrimage until the Reformation. Before 1385, the Amstel separated the city of Amsterdam into two parts of roughly equal size: the “old town” (Oudezijde) where the “old church” (Oude Kerk) is located, the construction of which began around 1300. , and the “New Town” (Nieuwezijde) where the “New Church” (Nieuwe Kerk) is located, built at the beginning of the 15th century. In order to guarantee its protection, the city is equipped with canals, completed by a palisade (burghal) made up of a wall of earth overhung by a wooden palisade. When new perimeter walls are built after 1385, the existing wall takes the name of Voorburgwal (front palisade) while the new is called Achterburgwal (rear palisade), both in the old and new cities. Four canals / streets can still be seen today in the historic center bearing the names of Oudezijds Voorburgwal, Oudezijds Achterburgwal, Nieuwezijds Voorburgwal and Nieuwezijds Achterburgwal (now Spuistraat).
In 1421 and 1452, the city was ravaged by two major fires. The second destroyed more than three-quarters of the city and the emperor Charles V decreed in 1521 that the new dwellings should be built in stone rather than in wood. Remaining theoretical, the ban became definitive from 1669. Almost all the wooden dwellings of the time have now disappeared, with the notable exception of the Houten Huis (“wooden house”) of the beguinage. Paradoxically, the reconstruction of brick and stone buildings, which is heavier, requires even more wood: Amsterdam is rebuilt on piles, the length of which should ideally be at least fifteen meters to reach the first sandbank, underlying to the muddy peat on which the city is built; we, therefore, bring from the Black Forest, floating on the Rhine, the thousands of “masts”, because it is a concomitant industry to that of masts, the thousands of stakes on which the city will henceforth be built.
During the First World War, the Netherlands remained neutral. The 1920s and 1930s saw the city improve. We have lost count of the houses and buildings adorned with brick and stone decorations, whose style would take the name Amsterdamse School.
In 1933, the economic crisis hit the city hard, and German Jewish refugees began to arrive.
Amsterdam was not bombed during World War II. But the Jewish quarter was transformed into a ghetto, and almost the entire Jewish community (80,000 inhabitants) was deported, despite a solidarity strike that broke out in February 1941.
Moreover, the attitude of the whole country vis-à-vis the oppressor will command the admiration of the international community. The example of helping Jewish families, like that of Anne Frank, who is hiding in a house in the Prinsengracht, will become highly symbolic.
For their part, the authorities in exile, and in particular Queen Wilhelmina, call on the Dutch people from England to resist. After the disastrous Battle of Arnhem and the winter of 1944-1945, when the Allies parachuted foodstuffs to starving residents, Amsterdam was not liberated by the Canadians until May 5, 1945 (three days before the Armistice).
Visit Amsterdam. what are the best things to do and see in the capital of the Netherlands?
Known for its romantic canals, its mythical Red Light District, its very intense nightlife, its gabled houses, and its artistic heritage, the “Dutch Venice” is absolutely worth visiting at least once in your life.
Between world-class art and history museums, famous coffee shops, windmills, and historic monuments, there is plenty to do in Amsterdam. Moreover, it is not a capital like the others: Being on a human scale, one can easily visit Amsterdam on foot or by bike, like the locals!
It’s quite cliché, but you really have to take a canal tour if you come to visit Amsterdam. The cruise is smooth and relaxed, passing picturesque buildings and old stone bridges. Several cruises in Amsterdam are possible: from the simple ride to the luxury cruise. Typically, a cruise lasts about 1 to 2 hours.
If you enjoyed navigating these canals, you can continue your journey by visiting the Canal Museum which traces the history of Amsterdam and explains the use and manufacture of canals.
Amsterdam’s red-light district
Take a stroll through the famous Red Light District, also known as De Wallen or Red Light District, and see what everyone is talking about… You will be amazed to find much more than prostitutes lit by red lights.
You will notice, however, that the houses with the red windows are historic buildings, and beautiful architecture abounds in this area which is one of the oldest in the city. Its historical significance has largely been obscured by the popularity of the neighborhood’s “window shopping”: at its heart, you will find the Oude Kerk established in 1306.
This experience is not unmissable, although it is in this top, be aware that 1/4 of tourists enter a coffee shop at least once during their trip. Amsterdam is one of the only places in the world where you can buy quality weed, as long as you smoke it at the establishment where you sold it.
These establishments have not turned the city into a den of the depraved, far from it: for cannabis smokers, coffee shops are quite simply alternative cafes where you can relax to smoke, yes, but also to take a cup of coffee, and sometimes even eat.
Dozens of Amsterdam’s museums are devoted to the fine arts, of which the Netherlands has pioneered for centuries, but also to the sciences and the history of the city.
Here are the museums that you absolutely must-do if you come to visit Amsterdam:
Amsterdam Rijksmuseum, Stedelijk Museum in Amsterdam, The Van Gogh Museum, The Anne Frank House, The History Museums In Amsterdam, Sports, Fun Museum, Exhibitions In Amsterdam, The Zoo And The Nature Museums, The Museums Of Technology A Amsterdam, Other museums, exhibitions, and tourist attractions, etc…
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