Travel to Amsterdam

Amsterdam travel

Amsterdam is an international city with a rich history and a very diverse population, coming from 180 different backgrounds and boasting a wide range of arts and culture. Considering that Amsterdam is almost 1,000 years old, it is no surprise that the city is rich in history. This important heritage is represented in several important historical sites of the city, such as Dam Square, the Oude Kerk and, the famous iconic canal belt of Amsterdam.

The origins

In search of land, the farmers of Utrecht go to the marshy area called Aemstelle. By digging drainage channels, the swampy land is slowly reclaimed. Farmers and fishermen, who settle on both banks of the Amstel, build their houses on mounds to stay above the water. The Toll Privilege, written in 1275 by Floris V in Leiden, is the oldest document in which Amsterdam is mentioned. This document was written after Floris' soldiers wreaked havoc in the small village. After the start of the Dutch revolt, Amsterdam remained loyal to the King of Spain. However, Protestant rebels led by William of Orange ruled the area around Catholic Amsterdam. In 1578, an upheaval took place which forced the Catholic city council and the Catholic clergy to leave the city. Amsterdam joins the revolt and becomes an economic superpower, in part thanks to the arrival of merchants from the south of the Netherlands.

Contemporary history

In 1928, Amsterdam secured the honor of hosting the Olympic Games. For a while it becomes the center of the international sporting world. It was a huge success for the country, generating great interest from the general public and great achievements from local athletes. Soon after Nazi Germany invaded the Netherlands, Jews fell victim to the occupier. Indeed, many Jews were arrested and disappeared in concentration camps. A general strike was organized in Amsterdam on February 25, 1941 in protest.

The city's climate

The Netherlands is known for its very low topography and land extended out to sea, called polders. About half of the land in the Netherlands is below sea level, but polders and dikes make more land available and less prone to flooding for the growing country. There are also a few low hills in the southeast, but none exceed 2,000 feet. The climate of the Netherlands is temperate and is strongly influenced by its maritime situation. As a result, summers are cool and winters mild. The lowest average January temperature in Amsterdam is 0.5˚C and the highest in August is 21˚C.

The unavoidable

While staying in Amsterdam, there are places and sights that you cannot visit. Here are a few.

Rembrandt House Museum

Dutch master painter Rembrandt van der Rijn lived and worked for almost 20 years in the Jewish quarter of Amsterdam, in a house on the Jodenbreestraat. He created many of his most famous paintings during this period, including his most iconic work, The Night Watch. In 1911, Rembrandt's former house was turned into a biographical museum.

By Oude Kerk

The Oude Kerk, Amsterdam's oldest building still in existence, has witnessed much of the city's history. The church dates from 1306 and was originally owned by the Catholic Church. However, during the Reformation, the Calvinists seized it and turned it into a Protestant cathedral. Today the church is surrounded by the Red Light District and its outer courtyard has two monuments that are dedicated to the city's sex workers.

The canal belt

Although the crescent-shaped canal system of central Amsterdam dates back to the 16th century, its main waterways were built between 1613 and 1665, as part of a city renovation project. This aquatic network allowed traders to quickly transport goods throughout the city and greatly boosted Dutch trade. Today, the Prinsengracht, the Kaizersgracht, the Herengracht and the Singel are collectively protected by UNESCO as World Heritage.

Dam Square

In the 13th century, a large dam was built at the mouth of the Amstel. This impressive technical feat brought together several colonies on either side of the river, which were eventually renamed under the singular name of Amsterdam. Today, this historic site is known as Place du Barrage and contains many important iconic buildings including the Royal Palace.

Portuguese synagogue

During the 16th century, many Portuguese Jewish families fled to Amsterdam to escape the Inquisition. In the Netherlands, they were allowed to practice their faith freely and eventually built a huge synagogue on the outskirts of central Amsterdam. Today this monumental building is known as the Portuguese Synagogue and remains an important part of the history of Amsterdam's Jewish community.

Homomonument

Based on the pink triangle that homosexuals were forced to wear in Nazi concentration camps, the Homomument commemorates homosexual victims of the Holocaust, while paying homage to current and historic struggles of LGBTQ + people. It is, in fact, the very first memorial of its kind, and it has inspired many other similar monuments in cities around the world.

Anne Frank House

During World War II, German forces occupied Amsterdam and deported thousands of Jews to concentration camps beyond the Dutch border. For several years, Anne Frank and her family hid in a hidden apartment in de Jordaan, before being arrested by German police. After the war, this secret sanctuary was converted into a museum that commemorates the Franks and other victims of the Holocaust.