Amsterdam - the capital of the Netherlands
What makes Amsterdam so popular with visitors from around the world? Is it the city's atmosphere, or famous canals? Is it its rich history, or theatres and museums? Perhaps it are the beautiful parks, where there's always so much to see and do? Or maybe it's the freedom that Amsterdam offers with its tolerant "live and let live" mentality? In fact, it's all these things that make Amsterdam such a one-of-a-kind destination.
History of Amsterdam
Amsterdam's name is derived from the city's origin, a dam in the 'Amstel' river. Originating from a small fishermen village, Amsterdam became one of the most important ports in the world during the Dutch Golden Age, a result of its innovative developments in trade. Ships sailed from Amsterdam to the Baltic Sea, North America, and Africa, as well as present-day Indonesia, India, Sri Lanka, and Brazil, forming the basis of a worldwide trading network.
Which sights shouldn't you miss? Although Amsterdammers believe that the only thing anyone "should" be doing is "as they please", there are a few gems that number among the city’s top sights: famous museums include the Rijksmuseum, Van Gogh Museum, Anne Frank House and the Hermitage Amsterdam. There’s the equally celebrated 17th century canal district, declared a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 2010. Other highlights include the cosy 17th century Jordaan district and the lively Pijp with its terrace cafés and Albert Cuyp Market. Then why not head to Westerpark area and discover Cultuurpark Westergasfabriek or the imaginative architecture of the Amsterdam School (Museum Het Ship). Amsterdam Noord is both fascinating for its daring architecture along the banks of the IJ and the historic dike houses in the Nieuwendammerdijk neighbourhood. And speaking about must-see sights - don't miss taking a boat tour through the canals.
Canal District: Canal houses and gardens
Amsterdam is most famous throughout the world for its canals. The reflection of the historic facades, bridges and boats in the water creates a unique atmosphere. But the city's web of waterways also offers plenty of surprises even city residents are often unaware of. Such as a number of canal houses that are open to visitors, featuring beautiful interiors dating from the 17th, 18th or 19th centuries. Perhaps the gardens hidden behind these houses offer the biggest surprise of all - with only the sound of chirping birds, these gardens offer an oasis of tranquillity, shutting out the hustle and bustle of the city around them.