All about Amsterdam
Amsterdam – A Brief History
Around the year 1275 a dam was built by fishermen at the Amstelriver, just before the Amstelriver entered the IJ-river. This dam was called the Aemstelledamme (Dam on the Amstel). In the year 1300 Aemstelledamme became cityrights from Floris V. During the years the name was transferred into Amsterdam.
In the 14th and 15th century Amsterdam grew very quickly and became the most important trading city of The Netherlands. At that time The Netherlands (also known as the Low Countries) was under control by the dukes of Bourgogne. During the 16th century the control over the Low Countries was given to Spain. The oppressive rules of the Catholic Spanish led to an independence war by the Dutch and lasted 80 years. At that moment there were a lot of religious wars throughout Europe and the first thing The Dutch reinstated was the freedom of religion.. Because of the freedom of religion The Netherlands, and specifically Amsterdam, became a refugee place where people did not get condemned because of their believes. You might consider this as the foundation for the Dutch tolerance policy towards cannabis.
During the 17th century Amsterdam grew more rapidly then ever and became the most important financial center of Europe. The Netherlands was in that time the foremost commercial and maritime power of Europe and ships from Amsterdam sailed across the world to Indonesia, Brazil and Africa gathering an impressive empire. During this period there seemed to be no end to all the wealth. In the historical center of the city there is still an innumerous amount of fantastic buildings showing the wealth of that period. This was also the period of the painter Rembrandt and the construction of the canals throughout the city. The Dutch like to call this period of Dutch history ‘the Golden Age’.
All this wealth did not come to them in only a positive way; to reach their goals the Dutch became very skilled in slave trading, which became very quickly a common source for western countries for cheap labor during hundreds of years. This aspect of Dutch history is not that much highlighted in Dutch history books; we wonder why.
The Dutch Golden Age came to an end during the 18th and 19th century after wars with England and France. These wars took their toll on The Netherlands and Amsterdam lost its supremacy over Europe.
During the sixties of the 20th century Amsterdam got back on the map again and this time it got there to stay. In this period Amsterdam became known and famous for its liberal view on Sex and Drugs. This liberal vibe throughout the city is upon today different then all other places, making Amsterdam one of the best hangout places of this planet.
Some statistics of Amsterdam: the Capital of Cannabis
- Residents: 740.000
- Nationalities: 170+
- Bicycles: 600.000
- Trams: 230
- Parks: 28
- Markets: 21
- Shops: 10.500
- Canals: 165
- Bridges: 1281
- Trees: 220.000
- Flowers in public places: 600.000
- Royal Palace: 1
- Museums: 51
- Buildings from 16th – 18th century: 6800
- Windmills: 6
- Galleries: 140
- Movie theatres: 61
- Coffeeshops: 220
- Café’s and bars: 1400
- Clubs: 36
- Restaurants: 750
- Hotel beds: 38.000
- Day visitors per year: 16.000.000
Amsterdam is relatively a very small city. When it comes to distances Amsterdam is no London, New York or Tokyo. The possibilities of transportation in Amsterdam are diverse and all are very suitable to get across the city in a quick and/or comfortable way.
- By foot
- By bicycle
- By tram
- By taxi
- By metro
- By bus
If you visit Amsterdam the main area you probably will visit is the historic center. This historic center is only a few square kilometers big, so actually everything is within walking distance.
Walking through the neighborhoods of Amsterdam is definitely the best way to get to know the city. Amsterdam is a city with a lot of small details and surprises, which you probably will miss when you rush the neighborhoods.
When walking through the city, you have to watch out though for bicycles and trams. Bicycles pop up very quickly, very silently and without any warning. Locals on bicycles seem to have no mercy for tourists who walk on the bike lanes.
Besides the bikes there are also the trams. Trams are everywhere and sometimes they go pretty fast through crowded streets. Be amazed by all the beautiful things you will see, but keep an eye on where you’re walking.
The first thing you will notice when you come to Amsterdam is the amazing amount of bicycles everywhere. In our opinion the good old bicycle is the best way moving quickly through the city.
Bicycles are quick and you can go every direction you like when you want to at any time. Because of this bicycles are far out transportation vehicle number one in Amsterdam. Every local has at least one bicycle at home.
In traffic there are almost everywhere for bicycles special bike lanes. When you chose for this option, please keep the following in mind:
– Amsterdam is a busy city with a lot of traffic. So especially when you’re not that experienced on a bike you have to watch out. Bikes never win a collision with a tram. Also watch out for the tracks on the road for the trams. These are just a bit wider then bicycle tires and the tires get easily stuck in them which will certainly make you fall pretty hard.
– Besides the busy traffic there are always a lot of people walking around. Some people are sometimes a little bit spaced out or just not paying attention on where they walk. They also might make some unexpected moves.
– Bike theft is an huge problem in Amsterdam. Lots of junkies make a living out of stealing bikes and selling them for cheap on the streets. These junkies are good in what they’re doing, so always make sure you lock your bike in the best possible way.
On the other side… Don’t buy a bike on the streets for a few euros. You are just supporting the problem. Next time it might be your bike which gets stolen. Besides that, the police are these days very strict on this kind of criminality. When you get caught for buying a stolen bike you will face some serious problems. The argument you did not know the bike was stolen will not work in any case.
Bicycles can be rented at a very cheap price throughout the city. You can check the websites of the following companies for more information:
The good old tram. The tram is an easy way for transportation, especially for the some longer distances. Especially in the center, trams are coming and going all the time which makes the waiting times never real long.
There are about 17 tram lines in Amsterdam. With these trams you can visit almost all parts of the city. An important part of these lines begin and end their ride at Central Station.
If you want to make usage of the tram you will need an OV Chipkaart (PT Smart Card). This card can also be used in the bus and the metro.
For more information you can check the website of the GVB; the City Transportation Company.
Amsterdam is loaded with taxis in all sorts and sizes. But the taxiworld in Amsterdam has a very bad reputation. This has several reasons; it is mainly caused by the high prices, the attitude of the taxi drivers and how they got in the news in an aggressive way the last few years.
On the other hand; sometimes these guys are the savior of the evening when you’re stuck at a certain location. So the taxi is not our preferred method of transportation through Amsterdam. But sometimes it’s a method which just turns up to be the best option at that moment.
Taxis are everywhere. If you need one, just throw your arm in the air and you will have success soon.
The metro is not something a lot of visitors of Amsterdam will use. And there is also no reason to. The metro is only handy when you want to visit the outer neighborhoods of the city.
For the metro you can use the same OV Chipkaart as in the tram and bus. More information about the metro can be found on the website of the GVB; the City Transportation Company.
There are about 30 bus lines in Amsterdam. You can forget about this option though. If you visit the center there will be no reason at all to prefer this method over any other available method.
If you persist or are a bus fetishist you can check for more information the website of the GVB; the City Transportation Company.