Amsterdam is the magnificent European city in the Netherlands, near Belgium and Germany. It’s the cultural capital, the most popular and the largest city of the country, which is also known as Holland. Having millions of visitors every year, Amsterdam is incredibly famous for its picturesque canals, the bridges, the green areas, the renowned museums, the colorful buildings, the variety of architecture, the cannabis coffee shops as also for the rich culture and its artistic excellence. The charming scenery, the arts, the wealth, the tolerance, are parts of its tradition. All these features have made Amsterdam one of the most beautiful, cultural, open-minded, multicultural cities. It has even been awarded for its innovation and as the second best city to live, regarded among the top financial centers in Europe.
The Picturesque Canals
Undoubtedly, the most dominant element in Amsterdam remains the endless Canals. It’s not a coincidence that Amsterdam is considered «The Venice of the North», because of its countless historical canals and islands that are associated with over one thousand bridges. It’s unbelievable that the city involves more than 100 kilometers of canals, which you can marvel by walking around them or cruising by boat. The three main canals that surround the area from the
17th century is the: «Phinsengracht», «Keizergracht», «Herengracht» and are known as «Grachtengordel». Meaning Canal District, they are situated in the city center. The canals are mostly parallel to each other and they end up into the Amstel river. They are so enchanting that they became a part of UNESCO’s World Heritage List. Of course, there are many more, especially in the district of Jordan, where you can see smaller canals. Do not lose the chance to find out about them, as they are the ultimate sightseeing in the city.
Dam Square: The Historical Center of The Sights
Actually, it is the citie’s famous town square, near the Amstel river. The downtown historical center is characterized by crowded events and significant buildings, which are so close to each other, which makes it easier for visitors to walk around, sightseeing the impressive attractions. Explore the majestic neoclassical Royal Palace, the Medieval Gothic New Church, «Nieuwe Kerk» with the stained glass windows and the pulpits. It comprises the burial ground of important Dutch personalities of the past. Nowadays, this Protestant church operates, among others, as a museum and it hosts exhibitions, recitals and royal ceremonies too. The «Madame Tussaud’s» Museum with the amazing wax sculptures is also situated in the Dam Square area, as well as the National Monument for the victims of the Second World War. From here you can observe the Mint Tower, «Munttoren» in nearby Muntplein Square, with the clockwork, the bronze drum and the carillon of melodic bells. However, except for the monuments, the market square lies all around and there you can also find the «Bijenkorf» department store, the stock exchange, bars, restaurants and plenty of public events to entertain you.
Spectacular Controversial Attractions
As the place of tolerance and freedom, Amsterdam offers unique attractions, that are not always acceptable for some people. But if you are open to suggestions, you can walk through the alleys in the neighboring «Red-Light District», de Walle, watching the designated area for legalized prostitution. It’s strange, but it occurs in Amsterdam too. Its name came from the red lights, which illuminate the workers who stand behind a window or a glass door. Another controversial pursuit is the existence of the «cannabis coffee shops», that are everywhere in the city. There, you can taste something that is considered illegal in many countries. Nevertheless, the small amount of cannabis which is served, has been proven that restrains from the drug addiction, dropping the use to the minimum level in the Netherlands. So, you can find similar shops in the Dam Square and in plenty of other districts.
The Royal Palace of Amsterdam
The Royal Palace, «Koninklijk Paleis», which today is used for hosting state receptions, government visits or official public ceremonies and events, is the perfect example of classicism. Located in Dam Square, it was built in 17th century, during the Dutch Golden Age when the Netherlands was the center of the world economy. Today remains as one of the three Royal palaces in Holland. Initially, it was used as a town hall, while later became the royal residence of King Luis Napoleon and the Dutch royal family. There, you can admire the fascinating collections of thousand artifacts and furnitures, the paintings, the sculptures from the past as also the galleries and the exhibitions that occur throughout the year.
Certainly, the city of Amsterdam is enriched with a variety of impressive architectural styles. The Medieval Gothic element is the distinctive attribute, which features so many buildings and monuments in the city, as the glorious «Oude Kerk», Old Church, from the 14th century. As the time goes by, the then wooden buildings have been replaced with brick structures. The city was embellished with Renaissance’s and Baroque’s buildings, as for instance The Royal Palace on Dam Square. However, in the 18th century, the French culture influenced the decor of the city, but it was until the next century, when the Art Nouveau was dominated since nowadays. You can admire this style especially observing the most stunning museums on Museum Square. Nevertheless, today you can also find Art Deco buildings as well as numerous examples of Amsterdamse School architecture. This influenced by expressionism architecture is known as Amsterdam’s own kind of style, described in edgy forms, uncommon shapes with decorated doors and windows.
Amsterdam is famous for its museums as it has more than 70 museums, regarded as the place with the most museums according to its size. Million tourists visit the city, especially to marvel the fabulous museums. There you can find any kind of museum you can imagine, for arts, history, nature, technology, sports. There are even pleasure and lifestyle museums, numerous galleries, as well as the famous beer’s Heineken brewery museum. However, the most significant museums are located in the district of «Museumkwartier», Museum Quarter. There, The «Museumplein», Museum Square consists of the three most significant museums in the city the: «Rijksmuseum», «Van Gogh Museum» and «Stedelijk Museum». Don’t lose the opportunity to explore them, as well as the concert hall, the impressive surrounding buildings and the amazing green Vondelpark which lies around you. Additionally, tour the Rembrandt and Anne Frank House to complete the experience.
Last but not least, The Begijnhof is the picturesque place which is considered one of the oldest hofjes in Amsterdam, a word that is referred to the inner courtyards with almshouses. It was once the home of beguines, a sisterhood of religious women, while today mostly hosts single women. The Begijnhof is the only that stands there since the Middle Ages. It comprises historic buildings, most of them are used as private houses, two churches, and an idyllic green area with sculptures. The oldest house in the city is located there, as also the Catholic church «Het Houten Huys», considered one of the two remaining wooden constructions in the city. It is definitely a place worth visiting, as well as the entire Amsterdam!