Amsterdam is the capital and the largest city of The Netherlands. Its name is derived from Amstel dam, pointing to the city’s origin: a dam on the river Amstel. Founded as a small fishing village in the late 12th century, Amsterdam became one of the most important ports in the world during the Dutch Golden Age, because of its innovative developments in trade. Amsterdam was granted city rights in 1300 or 1306.

The city is known for its historic port, the Rijksmuseum, the Van Gogh Museum, its red-light district, its liberal coffee shop policy, and its many canals which have led to Amsterdam being called the Venice of the North.


Amsterdam has a rich architectural history. The oldest building in Amsterdam is het Houten Huys at the Begijnhof in Amsterdam. This wooden building was built around 1425 and is one of the two still existing wooden buildings in Amsterdam. It is also one of the few rare examples of gothic architecture in Amsterdam.

The most important museums of Amsterdam are located on het Museumplein (Museum Square). This square is the largest square of Amsterdam and lies adjacent to the southern side of the city’s centre. It was created in the last quarter of the 19th century on the grounds of the former World Exposition. The northern part of the square is bordered by the very large Rijksmuseum. In front of the Rijksmuseum on the square itself you can find a man-made pond. This is transformed in winter time into a ice rink.


Amsterdam has a vibrant and diverse nightlife scene and is famous for it. The two main epicentres for nightlife are the Leidseplein and Rembrandtplein. The Rembrantplein is more visited by Dutchmen from outside Amsterdam and the Leidseplein tends to be more for the locals and tourists from outside the country.

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