Amsterdam in Summer: Windmills, wooden shoes, and flowers
The Netherlands gem is one of Europe’s and the world’s most beautiful destinations.
Amsterdam, located in the south of the province North Holland in the Netherlands, was founded in the late 12th century as a small fishing village at the mouth of the river Amstel. The damming of the river Amstel gave it its name (in Dutch: Amstelredam “Dam in the Amstel,” turned into Amsterdam over the course of time). With the largest historical city center of Europe, the city is a famous tourist destination.
The canals add tremendously to Amsterdam’s scenery. There are more than 50 canals and 1,500 bridges in the city. A boat trip through the canals gives a visitor a good first view of Amsterdam’s attractive old houses and busy modern harbor. The most attractive parts of Amsterdam are the tree-lined canals along which rich merchants of the 1600s and 1700s built their houses. These gabled brick houses are often tall and narrow because they were once taxed according to their frontage.
Dam Square: Amsterdam’s beating heart
The central square of Amsterdam is the Dam, where the Royal Palace is situated. The palace was originally the town hall, built between 1648 and 1662. Dam Square is Amsterdam’s beating heart.
Nowadays, in contrast with the old days, it is now a very peaceful square, which is home to scores of pigeons and street performers. One of the city’s oldest shopping streets, Kalverstraat (Calves’ Street), leads from the Dam to the old Mint Tower, a prominent landmark.
Another historic place is the Weeper’s Tower, the last remnant of the city wall of 1482. From this point, on April 4, 1609, Henry Hudson sailed in the vessel Half Moon on a voyage that brought him to New York harbor and the Hudson River, in the U.S.
A fascinating old section of the city is the Jewish quarter, where philosopher Spinoza was born and where Rembrandt lived. In another section is the warehouse in which the young diarist Anne Frank and her family took refuge from the Nazi persecution of the Jews during World War II. Here can be seen the rooms where they hid for two years before they were betrayed and captured.
Best of museums and theaters
Amsterdam has outstanding museums and theaters. The Rijksmuseum houses the world’s greatest collection of Dutch art. The Municipal (Stedelijk) Museum is devoted to modern art. It contains many of the best paintings of Van Gogh. The museum of the Royal Institute of the Tropics exhibits the arts and products of the Netherlands Antilles, Suriname, and the former Netherlands East Indies (now Indonesia).
Amsterdam’s Concert Hall is the home of the world-renowned Concertgebouw Orchestra. Opera, ballet, and drama are presented in the Municipal Theater. One of Amsterdam’s oldest industries is diamond cutting and polishing.
Windmills, wooden shoes, and more
In its 18th and 19th century heyday, the Zaan region was an important industrial area dotted by hundreds of windmills producing linseed oil, paint, snuff, mustard, paper, and other products. Today it is an idealized re-creation of a Dutch village from the late 19th century.