Amsterdam (, , ) is the capital
and most populous city
of the Netherlands
with a population of 872,680 within the city proper, 1,558,755 in the urban area
and 2,480,394 in the metropolitan area
Found within the province
of North Holland
Amsterdam is colloquially referred to as the "Venice of the North
", attributed by the large number of canals which form a UNESCO World Heritage Site
Amsterdam was founded at the Amstel
, that was dammed to control flooding, and the city's name derives from the Amstel dam. Originating 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
of the 17th century, and became the leading centre for finance
. In the 19th and 20th centuries, the city expanded and many new neighbourhoods and suburbs were planned and built. The 17th-century canals of Amsterdam
and the 19–20th century Defence Line of Amsterdam
are on the UNESCO World Heritage List
, annexed in 1921 by the municipality of Amsterdam, is the oldest part of the city, dating to the 9th century.
Amsterdam's main attractions
include its historic canals
, the Rijksmuseum
, the Van Gogh Museum
, the Stedelijk Museum
, Hermitage Amsterdam
, the Concertgebouw
, the Anne Frank House
, the Scheepvaartmuseum
, the Amsterdam Museum
, the Heineken Experience
, the Royal Palace of Amsterdam
, Natura Artis Magistra
, Hortus Botanicus Amsterdam
, the red-light district
and many cannabis coffee shop
s. It drew more than 5 million international visitors in 2014. The city is also well known for its nightlife and festival activity; with several of its nightclubs (Melkweg
) among the world's most famous. Primarily known for its artistic heritage, elaborate canal system and narrow houses with gabled façades
; well-preserved legacies of the city's 17th-century Golden Age. These characteristics are arguably responsible for attracting millions of Amsterdam's visitors annually. Cycling
is key to the city's character, and there are numerous bike paths
The Amsterdam Stock Exchange
is considered the oldest "modern" securities market stock exchange
in the world. As the commercial capital of the Netherlands and one of the top financial centre
s in Europe, Amsterdam is considered an alpha world city
by the Globalization and World Cities
(GaWC) study group. The city is also the cultural capital of the Netherlands. Many large Dutch institutions have their headquarters in the city, including: the Philips
, and ING
. Moreover, many of the world's largest companies are based in Amsterdam or have established their European headquarters in the city, such as leading technology companies Uber
. In 2012, Amsterdam was ranked the second best city to live in by the Economist Intelligence Unit
(EIU) and 12th globally on quality of living for environment and infrastructure by Mercer. The city was ranked 4th place globally as top tech hub in the Savills Tech Cities 2019 report (2nd in Europe), and 3rd in innovation by Australian innovation agency 2thinknow in their Innovation Cities Index 2009. The Port of Amsterdam
is the fifth largest in Europe.
hub and Amsterdam's main airport, Schiphol
, is the Netherlands' busiest airport as well as the third busiest in Europe
and 11th busiest airport in the world.
The Dutch capital is considered one of the most multicultural cities in the world, with at least 177 nationalities represented.
A few of Amsterdam's notable residents throughout history
include: painters Rembrandt
and Van Gogh
, the diarist Anne Frank
, and philosopher Baruch Spinoza
Due to its geographical location in what used to be wet peatland
, Amsterdam ''proper'' is presumed to be much younger than Dutch cities like Nijmegen
(both having a Roman origin
). However, the area around what later became Amsterdam - along the prehistoric IJ
- had been settled almost three millennia ago. The IJ was mainly in peatland behind beach ridges
, and could grow there into an important settlement center, especially in the late Bronze Age
, the Iron Age
and the Roman Age
and Roman artefacts has also been found in the south of this area, where later Amsterdam arose, in the prehistoric Amstel
bedding under Damrak
, such as shards of Bell Beaker culture pottery
(2200-2000 BC) and a granite grinding stone (2700-2750 BC), but these probably point to a presence of a modest semi-permanent or seasonal settlement, since the river mouth of the Amstel was probably too wet for permanent habitation.
Etymology and Founding
The origins of Amsterdam is linked to the development of the peatland called ''Amestelle
'', meaning 'watery area', from ''Aa(m)
'' 'river' + ''stelle
'' 'site at a shoreline', 'river bank'.
In this area, land reclamation
started as early as the late 10th century. Amestelle was located along a side arm of the IJ. This side arm took the name from the eponymous land: Amstel
. Amestelle was inhabited by farmers, who lived more inland and more upstream, where the land was not as wet as at the banks of the downstream river mouth. These farmers were starting the reclamation around upstream Ouderkerk aan de Amstel
, and later at the other side of the river at Amstelveen
. The Van Amstel family
, known in documents by this name since 1019,
held the stewardship in this northwestern nook of the ecclesiastical district of the bishop of Utrecht
. The family later served also under the count of Holland
A major turning point in the development of the Amstel river mouth is the All Saint's Flood of 1170
. In an extreme short period of time, the shallow river IJ turned into a wide estuary, which from then on offered the Amstel an open connection to the Zuiderzee
and waterways further afield. This made the water flow of the Amstel more active, so excess water could be drained better. With drier banks, the downstream Amstel mouth became attractive for permanent habitation. Moreover, the river had grown from an insignificant peat stream into a junction of international waterways. A settlement was built here immediately after the landscape change of 1170, and right from the start of its foundation it focused on traffic, production and trade; not on farming, as apposed to how communities had lived more upstream for the past 200 years and more north for the past thousands of years. The construction of a dam at the mouth of the Amstel, eponymously named Dam
, is historically estimated between 1264 and 1275. The settlement first appeared in a document concerning a road toll
granted by the count of Holland Floris V
to the residents ''apud Amestelledamme'' 'at the dam in the Amstel' or 'at the dam of Amstelland'. This allowed the inhabitants of the village to travel freely through the County of Holland
, paying no tolls at bridges, locks and dams. By 1327, the name had developed into ''Aemsterdam''.
Amsterdam was granted city rights
in either 1300 or 1306.
From the 14th century on, Amsterdam flourished, largely from trade with the Hanseatic League
. In 1345, an alleged Eucharistic miracle
rendered the city an important place of pilgrimage
until the adoption of the Protestant faith
. The Miracle devotion went underground but was kept alive. In the 19th century, especially after the jubilee of 1845, the devotion was revitalised and became an important national point of reference for Dutch Catholics. The ''Stille Omgang
''—a silent walk or procession
in civil attire—is the expression of the pilgrimage within the Protestant Netherlands since the late 19th century.
In the heyday of the Silent Walk, up to 90,000 pilgrims came to Amsterdam. In the 21st century, this has reduced to about 5000.
Conflict with Spain
In the 16th century, the Dutch rebelled against Philip II of Spain
and his successors. The main reasons for the uprising were the imposition of new taxes, the tenth penny, and the religious persecution
of Protestants by the newly introduced Inquisition
. The revolt escalated into the Eighty Years' War
, which ultimately led to Dutch independence.
Strongly pushed by Dutch Revolt
leader William the Silent
, the Dutch Republic
became known for its relative religious
from the Iberian Peninsula
s from France, prosperous merchants and printers from Flanders
, and economic and religious refugees from the Spanish-controlled parts of the Low Countries
found safety in Amsterdam. The influx of Flemish printers and the city's intellectual tolerance made Amsterdam a centre for the European free press
Centre of the Dutch Golden Age
The 17th century is considered Amsterdam's ''Golden Age
'', during which it became the wealthiest city in the western world. Ships sailed from Amsterdam to the Baltic Sea
, North America, and Africa, as well as present-day Indonesia
, Sri Lanka
, and Brazil
, forming the basis of a worldwide trading network. Amsterdam's merchants had the largest share in both the Dutch East India Company
and the Dutch West India Company
. These companies acquired overseas possessions that later became Dutch colonies
Amsterdam was Europe's most important point for the shipment of goods and was the leading Financial centre
of the western world. In 1602, the Amsterdam office of the international trading Dutch East India Company became the world's first stock exchange
by trading in its own shares.
The Bank of Amsterdam started operations in 1609, acting as a full-service bank for Dutch merchant bankers and as a reserve bank.
Decline and modernisation
Amsterdam's prosperity declined during the 18th and early 19th centuries. The wars
of the Dutch Republic
and France took their toll on Amsterdam. During the Napoleonic Wars
, Amsterdam's significance reached its lowest point, with Holland being absorbed into the French Empire
. However, the later establishment of the United Kingdom of the Netherlands
in 1815 marked a turning point.
The end of the 19th century is sometimes called Amsterdam's second Golden Age.
New museums, a railway station, and the Concertgebouw
were built; in this same time, the Industrial Revolution
reached the city. The Amsterdam–Rhine Canal
was dug to give Amsterdam a direct connection to the Rhine
, and the North Sea Canal
was dug to give the port a shorter connection to the North Sea
. Both projects dramatically improved commerce with the rest of Europe and the world. In 1906, Joseph Conrad
gave a brief description of Amsterdam as seen from the seaside, in ''The Mirror of the Sea''.
Shortly before the First World War, the city started to expand again, and new suburbs were built. Even though the Netherlands remained neutral in this war, Amsterdam suffered a food shortage, and heating fuel became scarce. The shortages sparked riots in which several people were killed. These riots are known as the ''Aardappeloproer'' (Potato rebellion). People started looting stores and warehouses in order to get supplies, mainly food.
On 1 January 1921, after a flood in 1916, the depleted municipalities of Durgerdam, Holysloot, Zunderdorp and Schellingwoude
, all lying north of Amsterdam, were, at their own request, annexed to the city. Between the wars, the city continued to expand, most notably to the west of the Jordaan
district in the Frederik Hendrikbuurt
and surrounding neighbourhoods.
Nazi Germany invaded the Netherlands
on 10 May 1940 and took control of the country. Some Amsterdam citizens sheltered Jews, thereby exposing themselves and their families to a high risk of being imprisoned or sent to concentration camps. More than 100,000 Dutch Jews
were deported to Nazi concentration camps
, of whom some 60,000 lived in Amsterdam. In response, the Dutch Communist Party organised the February strike
attended by 300,000 people to protest against the raids. Perhaps the most famous deportee was the young Jewish girl Anne Frank
, who died in the Bergen-Belsen concentration camp
At the end of the Second World War, communication with the rest of the country broke down, and food and fuel became scarce. Many citizens travelled to the countryside to forage. Dogs, cats, raw sugar
beets, and tulip
bulbs—cooked to a pulp—were consumed to stay alive.
Many trees in Amsterdam were cut down for fuel, and wood was taken from the houses, apartments and other buildings of deported Jews.
Many new suburbs, such as Osdorp
, were built in the years after the Second World War.
These suburbs contained many public parks and wide-open spaces, and the new buildings provided improved housing conditions with larger and brighter rooms, gardens, and balconies. Because of the war and other events of the 20th century, almost the entire city centre had fallen into disrepair. As society was changing, politicians and other influential figures made plans to redesign large parts of it. There was an increasing demand for office buildings, and also for new roads, as the automobile became available to most people.
started operating in 1977 between the new suburb of Bijlmermeer
in the city's Zuidoost
(southeast) exclave and the centre of Amsterdam. Further plans were to build a new highway above the metro to connect Amsterdam Centraal
and the city centre with other parts of the city.
The required large-scale demolitions began in Amsterdam's former Jewish neighbourhood. Smaller streets, such as the Jodenbreestraat and Weesperstraat, were widened and almost all houses and buildings were demolished. At the peak of the demolition, the ''Nieuwmarktrellen'' (Nieuwmarkt Riots
) broke out;
the rioters expressed their fury about the demolition caused by the restructuring of the city.
As a result, the demolition was stopped and the highway into the city's centre was never fully built; only the metro was completed. Only a few streets remained widened. The new city hall was built on the almost completely demolished Waterlooplein. Meanwhile, large private organisations, such as ''Stadsherstel Amsterdam'', were founded to restore the entire city centre. Although the success of this struggle is visible today, efforts for further restoration are still ongoing.
The entire city centre has reattained its former splendour and, as a whole, is now a protected area
. Many of its buildings have become monuments, and in July 2010 the Grachtengordel
(the three concentric canals: Herengracht, Keizersgracht, and Prinsengracht) was added to the UNESCO World Heritage List
In the early years of the 21st century, the Amsterdam city centre has attracted large numbers of tourists: between 2012 and 2015, the annual number of visitors rose from 10 to 17 million. Real estate prices have surged, and local shops are making way for tourist-oriented ones, making the centre unaffordable for the city's inhabitants. These developments have evoked comparisons with Venice
, a city thought to be overwhelmed by the tourist influx.
Construction of a metro line connecting the part of the city north of the river (or lake) IJ
to the centre was started in 2003. The project was controversial because its cost had exceeded its budget by a factor three by 2008, because of fears of damage to buildings in the centre, and because construction had to be halted and restarted multiple times. The metro line was completed in 2018.
Since 2014, renewed focus has been given to urban regeneration and renewal, especially in areas directly bordering the city centre, such as Frederik Hendrikbuurt
. This urban renewal and expansion of the traditional centre of the city—with the construction on artificial islands of the new eastern IJburg
neighbourhood—is part of the Structural Vision Amsterdam 2040 initiative.
Amsterdam is located in the Western Netherlands, in the province of North Holland
, the capital of which is not Amsterdam, but rather Haarlem
. The river Amstel
ends in the city centre and connects to a large number of canals that eventually terminate in the IJ
. Amsterdam is about below sea level
The surrounding land is flat as it is formed of large polder
s. A man-made forest, Amsterdamse Bos
, is in the southwest. Amsterdam is connected to the North Sea
through the long North Sea Canal
Amsterdam is intensely urbanised, as is the Amsterdam metropolitan area
surrounding the city. Comprising of land, the city proper
has 4,457 inhabitants per km2
and 2,275 houses per km2
Parks and nature reserve
s make up 12% of Amsterdam's land area.
Amsterdam has more than of canals
, most of which are navigable by boat. The city's three main canals are the Prinsengracht, Herengracht, and Keizersgracht.
In the Middle Ages
, Amsterdam was surrounded by a moat, called the Singel
, which now forms the innermost ring in the city, and gives the city centre a horseshoe shape. The city is also served by a seaport
. It has been compared with Venice
, due to its division into about 90 islands, which are linked by more than 1,200 bridges.
Amsterdam has an oceanic climate
strongly influenced by its proximity to the North Sea
to the west, with prevailing westerly winds. While winters are cool and summers warm, temperatures vary year by year. There can occasionally be cold, snowy winters and hot, humid summers.
Amsterdam, as well as most of the North Holland province, lies in USDA Hardiness zone
8b. Frosts mainly occur during spells of easterly or northeasterly winds from the inner European continent. Even then, because Amsterdam is surrounded on three sides by large bodies of water, as well as having a significant heat-island effect
, nights rarely fall below , while it could easily be in Hilversum, southeast.
Summers are moderately warm with a number of hot days every month. The average daily high in August is , and or higher is only measured on average on 2.5 days, placing Amsterdam in AHS Heat Zone 2. The record extremes range from to .
Days with more than of precipitation
are common, on average 133 days per year.
Amsterdam's average annual precipitation is . A large part of this precipitation falls as light rain or brief showers. Cloudy and damp days are common during the cooler months of October through March.
In 1300, Amsterdam's population was around 1,000 people.
While many towns in Holland experienced population decline during the 15th and 16th centuries, Amsterdam's population grew,
mainly due to the rise of the profitable Baltic maritime trade
after the Burgundian victory in the Dutch–Hanseatic War
. Still, the population of Amsterdam was only modest compared to the towns and cities of Flanders
, which comprised the most urbanised area of the Low Countries.
This changed when, during the Dutch Revolt
, many people from the Southern Netherlands fled to the North, especially after Antwerp fell to Spanish forces
in 1585. Jewish people from Spain, Portugal and Eastern Europe similarly settled in Amsterdam, as did Germans and Scandinavians.
In thirty years, Amsterdam's population more than doubled between 1585 and 1610. By 1600, its population was around 50,000.
During the 1660s, Amsterdam's population reached 200,000. The city's growth levelled off and the population stabilised around 240,000 for most of the 18th century.
In 1750, Amsterdam was the fourth largest city in western Europe
, behind London (676,000), Paris (560,000) and Naples (324,000). This was all the more remarkable as Amsterdam was neither the capital city nor the seat of government of the Dutch Republic
, which itself was a much smaller state than England, France or the Ottoman Empire
. In contrast to those other metropolises, Amsterdam was also surrounded by large towns such as Leiden
(about 67,000), Rotterdam
(38,000), and Utrecht
The city's population declined in the early 19th century, dipping under 200,000 in 1820. By the second half of the 19th century, industrialisation spurred renewed growth. Amsterdam's population hit an all-time high of 872,000 in 1959, before declining in the following decades due to government-sponsored suburbanisation to so-called ''groeikernen'' (growth centres) such as Purmerend
Between 1970 and 1980, Amsterdam experienced its sharp population decline, peaking at a net loss of 25,000 people in 1973.
By 1985 the city had only 675,570 residents. This was soon followed by reurbanisation
leading to renewed population growth in the 2010s. Also in the 2010s, much of Amsterdam's population growth was due to immigration to the city. Amsterdam's population failed to beat the expectations of 873000 in 2019.
In the 16th and 17th century, non-Dutch immigrants to Amsterdam were mostly Huguenot
, Sephardi Jews
ns. Huguenots came after the Edict of Fontainebleau
in 1685, while the Flemish Protestants came during the Eighty Years' War
. The Westphalians came to Amsterdam mostly for economic reasons – their influx continued through the 18th and 19th centuries. Before the Second World War, 10% of the city population was Jewish
. Just twenty percent of them survived the Shoah
The first mass immigration in the 20th century was by people from Indonesia, who came to Amsterdam after the independence of the Dutch East Indies
in the 1940s and 1950s. In the 1960s guest workers
from Turkey, Morocco, Italy, and Spain emigrated to Amsterdam. After the independence of Suriname in 1975, a large wave of Surinamese settled in Amsterdam, mostly in the Bijlmer
area. Other immigrants, including refugees asylum seekers
and illegal immigrants
, came from Europe, America
, Asia, and Africa. In the 1970s and 1980s, many 'old' Amsterdammers moved to 'new' cities like Almere
, prompted by the third planological
bill of the Dutch government. This bill promoted suburbanisation and arranged for new developments in so-called "groeikernen", literally ''cores of growth''. Young professionals and artists moved into neighbourhoods de Pijp and the Jordaan
abandoned by these Amsterdammers. The non-Western immigrants settled mostly in the social housing
projects in Amsterdam-West and the Bijlmer. Today, people of non-Western origin make up approximately one-third of the population of Amsterdam, and more than 50% of the city'
Ethnic Dutch (as defined
by the Dutch census) now make up a minority of the total population, although by far the largest one. Only one in three inhabitants under 15 is an ''autochtoon'', or a person who has two parents of Dutch origin. Segregation along ethnic lines is clearly visible, with people of non-Western origin, considered a separate group by Statistics Netherlands
, concentrating in specific neighbourhoods especially in Nieuw-West
and in certain areas of Amsterdam-Noord
In 2000, Christians formed the largest religious group
in the city (18% of the population). The next largest religion was Islam (12%), most of whose followers were Sunni
In 2015, Christians
formed the largest religious group
in the city (24% of the population). The next largest religion was Islam (11.1%), most of whose followers were Sunni
In 1578, the largely Catholic city of Amsterdam joined the revolt against Spanish rule,
late in comparison to other major northern Dutch cities.
Catholic priests were driven out of the city.
Following the Dutch takeover, all churches were converted to Protestant worship. Calvinism
was declared the main religion,
and although Catholicism was not forbidden and priests allowed to serve, the Catholic hierarchy
was prohibited. This led to the establishment of ''schuilkerken'', covert religious buildings that were hidden in pre-existing buildings. Catholics, some Jewish and dissenting Protestants worshiped in such buildings. A large influx of foreigners of many religions came to 17th-century Amsterdam, in particular Sefardic Jews
from Spain and Portugal, Huguenot
s from France, Lutherans
, and Protestants from across the Netherlands. This led to the establishment of many non-Dutch-speaking churches. In 1603, the Jewish received permission to practice their religion. In 1639, the first synagogue was consecrated. The Jews came to call the town Jerusalem of the West
As they became established in the city, other Christian denomination
s used converted Catholic chapels to conduct their own services. The oldest English-language church congregation in the world outside the United Kingdom is found at the Begijnhof
. Regular services there are still offered in English under the auspices of the Church of Scotland
Being Calvinists, the Huguenots soon integrated into the Dutch Reformed Church
, though often retaining their own congregations. Some, commonly referred by the moniker 'Walloon', are recognisable today as they offer occasional services in French.
In the second half of the 17th century, Amsterdam experienced an influx of Ashkenazim
, Jews from Central and Eastern Europe
. Jews often fled the pogrom
s in those areas. The first Ashkenazis who arrived in Amsterdam were refugee
s from the Khmelnytsky Uprising
in Ukraine and the Thirty Years' War
, which devastated much of Central Europe. They not only founded their own synagogues, but had a strong influence on the 'Amsterdam dialect' adding a large Yiddish
Despite an absence of an official Jewish ghetto
, most Jews preferred to live in the eastern part of the old medieval heart of the city. The main street of this Jewish neighbourhood was the ''Jodenbreestraat''. The neighbourhood comprised the ''Waterlooplein'' and the Nieuwmarkt
Buildings in this neighbourhood fell into disrepair after the Second World War, and a large section of the neighbourhood was demolished during the construction of the subway. This led to riots, and as a result the original plans for large-scale reconstruction were abandoned. The neighbourhood was rebuilt with smaller-scale residence buildings on the basis of its original layout.
Catholic churches in Amsterdam have been constructed since the restoration of the episcopal hierarchy in 1853. One of the principal architects behind the city's Catholic churches, Cuypers
, was also responsible for the Amsterdam Central station and the Rijksmuseum
In 1924, the Catholic Church
hosted the International Eucharistic Congress
in Amsterdam, and numerous Catholic prelate
s visited the city, where festivities were held in churches and stadiums. Catholic processions on the public streets, however, were still forbidden under law at the time. Only in the 20th century was Amsterdam's relation to Catholicism normalised, but despite its far larger population size
, the episcopal see of the city was placed in the provincial town of Haarlem
Historically, Amsterdam has been predominantly Christian, in 1900 Christians formed the largest religious group
in the city (70% of the population), Dutch Reformed Church
formed 45% of the city population, while the Catholic Church formed 25% of the city population.
In recent times, religious demographics in Amsterdam have been changed by immigration from former colonies. Hinduism
has been introduced from the Hindu diaspora from Suriname and several distinct branches of Islam have been brought from various parts of the world. Islam is now the largest non-Christian religion in Amsterdam.
The large community of Ghanaian immigrants have established African churches, often in parking garages in the Bijlmer
Diversity and immigration
Amsterdam experienced an influx of religions and cultures after the Second World War. With 180 different nationalities, Amsterdam is home to one of the widest varieties of nationalities of any city in the world. The proportion of the population of immigrant origin in the city proper is about 50% and 88% of the population are Dutch citizens.
Amsterdam has been one of the municipalities in the Netherlands which provided immigrants with extensive and free Dutch-language
courses, which have benefited many immigrants.
Cityscape and architecture
Amsterdam fans out south from the Amsterdam Centraal station
, the main street off the station. The oldest area of the town is known as De Wallen
(English: "The Quays"). It lies to the east of Damrak and contains the city's famous red-light district. To the south of De Wallen is the old Jewish quarter of Waterlooplein.
The medieval and colonial age canals of Amsterdam
, known as ''grachten'', embraces the heart of the city where homes have interesting gables. Beyond the Grachtengordel are the former working-class areas of Jordaan
and de Pijp. The Museumplein
with the city's major museums, the Vondelpark
, a 19th-century park named after the Dutch writer Joost van den Vondel
, and the Plantage
neighbourhood, with the zoo
, are also located outside the Grachtengordel.
Several parts of the city and the surrounding urban area are polder
s. This can be recognised by the suffix ''-meer'' which means ''lake'', as in Aalsmeer
, and Watergraafsmeer
The Amsterdam canal system is the result of conscious city planning
In the early 17th century, when immigration was at a peak, a comprehensive plan was developed that was based on four concentric half-circles of canals with their ends emerging at the IJ
bay. Known as the Grachtengordel
, three of the canals were mostly for residential development: the Herengracht (where "Heren" refers to ''Heren Regeerders van de stad Amsterdam'' (ruling lords of Amsterdam), and ''gracht
'' means canal, so that the name can be roughly translated as "Canal of the Lords"), Keizersgracht (Emperor's Canal), and Prinsengracht (Prince's Canal). The fourth and outermost canal is the Singelgracht
, which is often not mentioned on maps because it is a collective name for all canals in the outer ring. The Singelgracht should not be confused with the oldest and innermost canal, the Singel
The canals served for defence, water management
and transport. The defences took the form of a moat and earthen dikes
, with gates at transit points, but otherwise no masonry superstructure
s. The original plans have been lost, so historians, such as Ed Taverne, need to speculate on the original intentions: it is thought that the considerations of the layout were purely practical and defensive rather than ornamental.
Construction started in 1613 and proceeded from west to east, across the breadth of the layout, like a gigantic windshield wiper
as the historian Geert Mak
calls it – and not from the centre outwards, as a popular myth has it. The canal construction in the southern sector was completed by 1656. Subsequently, the construction of residential buildings proceeded slowly. The eastern part of the concentric canal plan, covering the area between the Amstel river and the IJ bay, has never been implemented. In the following centuries, the land was used for parks, senior citizens' homes, theatres, other public facilities, and waterways without much planning. Over the years, several canals have been filled in, becoming streets or squares, such as the Nieuwezijds Voorburgwal
and the Spui
After the development of Amsterdam's canals in the 17th century, the city did not grow beyond its borders for two centuries. During the 19th century, Samuel Sarphati
devised a plan based on the grandeur of Paris and London at that time. The plan envisaged the construction of new houses, public buildings and streets just outside the Grachtengordel
. The main aim of the plan, however, was to improve public health. Although the plan did not expand the city, it did produce some of the largest public buildings to date, like the ''Paleis voor Volksvlijt''.
Following Sarphati, civil engineers Jacobus van Niftrik and Jan Kalff designed an entire ring of 19th-century neighbourhoods surrounding the city's centre, with the city preserving the ownership of all land outside the 17th-century limit, thus firmly controlling development. Most of these neighbourhoods became home to the working class.
In response to overcrowding, two plans were designed at the beginning of the 20th century which were very different from anything Amsterdam had ever seen before: ''Plan Zuid'', designed by the architect Berlage
, and ''West''. These plans involved the development of new neighbourhoods consisting of housing blocks for all social classes.
After the Second World War, large new neighbourhoods were built in the western, southeastern, and northern parts of the city. These new neighbourhoods were built to relieve the city's shortage of living space and give people affordable houses with modern conveniences. The neighbourhoods consisted mainly of large housing blocks located among green spaces, connected to wide roads, making the neighbourhoods easily accessible by motor car
. The western suburbs which were built in that period are collectively called the Westelijke Tuinsteden. The area to the southeast of the city built during the same period is known as the Bijlmer.
Amsterdam has a rich architectural history
. The oldest building in Amsterdam is the Oude Kerk
(English: Old Church), at the heart of the Wallen, consecrated in 1306.
The oldest wooden building is ''Het Houten Huys''
at the Begijnhof
. It was constructed around 1425 and is one of only two existing wooden buildings. It is also one of the few examples of Gothic architecture
in Amsterdam. The oldest stone building of the Netherlands, The Moriaan is built in 's-Hertogenbosch
In the 16th century, wooden buildings were razed and replaced with brick ones. During this period, many buildings were constructed in the architectural style
of the Renaissance
. Buildings of this period are very recognisable with their stepped gable
façades, which is the common Dutch Renaissance style. Amsterdam quickly developed its own Renaissance architecture
. These buildings were built according to the principles of the architect Hendrick de Keyser
One of the most striking buildings designed by Hendrick de Keyser is the Westerkerk
. In the 17th century baroque architecture
became very popular, as it was elsewhere in Europe. This roughly coincided with Amsterdam's Golden Age
. The leading architects of this style in Amsterdam were Jacob van Campen
, Philips Vingboons
and Daniel Stalpaert
Philip Vingboons designed splendid merchants' houses throughout the city. A famous building in baroque style
in Amsterdam is the Royal Palace
on Dam Square
. Throughout the 18th century, Amsterdam was heavily influenced by French culture
. This is reflected in the architecture of that period. Around 1815, architects broke with the baroque style and started building in different neo-styles.
Most Gothic style buildings date from that era and are therefore said to be built in a neo-gothic
style. At the end of the 19th century, the Jugendstil
or Art Nouveau
style became popular and many new buildings were constructed in this architectural style. Since Amsterdam expanded rapidly during this period, new buildings adjacent to the city centre were also built in this style. The houses in the vicinity of the Museum Square
in Amsterdam Oud-Zuid are an example of Jugendstil. The last style that was popular in Amsterdam before the modern era
was Art Deco
. Amsterdam had its own version of the style, which was called the Amsterdamse School
. Whole districts were built this style, such as the ''Rivierenbuurt''.
A notable feature of the façades of buildings designed in Amsterdamse School is that they are highly decorated and ornate, with oddly shaped windows and doors.
The old city centre is the focal point of all the architectural styles before the end of the 19th century.
Jugendstil and Georgian are mostly found outside the city's centre in the neighbourhoods built in the early
20th century, although there are also some striking examples of these styles in the city centre.
Most historic buildings in the city centre and nearby are houses, such as the famous merchants' houses lining the canals.
Parks and recreational areas
Amsterdam has many parks, open spaces, and squares throughout the city. The Vondelpark
, the largest park in the city, is located in the Oud-Zuid
neighbourhood and is named after the 17th-century Amsterdam author Joost van den Vondel
. Yearly, the park has around 10 million visitors. In the park is an open-air theatre, a playground and several horeca
facilities. In the Zuid
borough, is the Beatrixpark, named after Queen Beatrix
. Between Amsterdam and Amstelveen
is the Amsterdamse Bos
("Amsterdam Forest"), the largest recreational area in Amsterdam. Annually, almost 4.5 million people visit the park, which has a size of 1.000 hectares and is approximately three times the size of Central Park
. The Amstelpark
in the Zuid
borough houses the Rieker windmill, which dates to 1636. Other parks include the Sarphatipark
in the De Pijp
neighbourhood, the Oosterpark
in the Oost
borough and the Westerpark
in the Westerpark
neighbourhood. The city has three beaches: Nemo Beach, Citybeach "Het stenen hoofd" (Silodam) and Blijburg, all located in the Centrum borough.
The city has many open squares (''plein'' in Dutch). The namesake of the city as the site of the original dam, Dam Square
, is the main city square and has the Royal Palace
and National Monument
hosts various museums, including the Rijksmuseum
, Van Gogh Museum
, and Stedelijk Museum
. Other squares include Rembrandtplein
, and Waterlooplein
. Also, near to Amsterdam is the Nekkeveld estate
Amsterdam is the financial and business capital of the Netherlands.
According to the 2007 European Cities Monitor (ECM) – an annual location survey of Europe's leading companies carried out by global real estate consultant Cushman & Wakefield
– Amsterdam is one of the top European cities in which to locate an international business
, ranking fifth in the survey.
with the survey determining London
as the four European cities surpassing Amsterdam in this regard.
A substantial number of large corporations and banks' headquarters are located in the Amsterdam area, including: AkzoNobel
, Heineken International
, ING Group
, ABN AMRO
, Delta Lloyd Group
Although many small offices remain along the historic canals
, centrally based companies have increasingly relocated outside Amsterdam's city centre
. Consequently, the Zuidas
(English: South Axis) has become the new financial and legal hub of Amsterdam,
with the country's five largest law firms and several subsidiaries of large consulting firms, such as Boston Consulting Group
, as well as the World Trade Centre (Amsterdam)
located in the Zuidas
district. In addition to the Zuidas, there are three smaller financial districts
* around Amsterdam Sloterdijk railway station
. Where one can find the offices of several newspapers, such as ''De Telegraaf
.'' as well as those of Deloitte
, the Gemeentelijk Vervoerbedrijf
(municipal public transport company), and the Dutch tax offices
* around the Johan Cruyff Arena
in Amsterdam Zuidoost
, with the headquarters of ING Group
* around the Amstel railway station
in the Amsterdam-Oost
district to the east of the historical city. Amsterdam's tallest building
, the Rembrandt Tower
, is located here.
As are the headquarters of Philips
, the Dutch multinational conglomerate.
The adjoining municipality of Amstelveen
is the location of KPMG International's
global headquarters. Other non-Dutch companies have chosen to settle in communities surrounding Amsterdam since they allow freehold
property ownership, whereas Amsterdam retains ground rent
The Amsterdam Stock Exchange
(AEX), now part of Euronext
, is the world's oldest stock exchange and, due to Brexit
, has overtaken LSE
as the largest bourse in Europe. It is near Dam Square
in the city centre.
Port of Amsterdam
The Port of Amsterdam
is the fourth-largest port in Europe, the 38th largest port in the world and the second-largest port in the Netherlands by metric tons of cargo. In 2014 the Port of Amsterdam had a cargo throughput of 97,4 million tons of cargo, which was mostly bulk cargo
Amsterdam has the biggest cruise port in the Netherlands with more than 150 cruise ships every year.
In 2019 the new lock in IJmuiden will open; the port will then be able to grow to 125 million tonnes in capacity.
Amsterdam is one of the most popular tourist destinations in Europe, receiving more than 5.34 million international visitors annually, this is excluding the 16 million day-trippers visiting the city every year.
The number of visitors has been growing steadily over the past decade. This can be attributed to an increasing number of European visitors. Two-thirds of the hotels are located in the city's centre.
Hotels with 4 or 5 stars contribute 42% of the total beds available and 41% of the overnight stays in Amsterdam. The room occupation rate was 85% in 2017, up from 78% in 2006.
The majority of tourists (74%) originate from Europe. The largest group of non-European visitors come from the United States, accounting for 14% of the total.
Certain years have a theme in Amsterdam to attract extra tourists. For example, the year 2006 was designated "Rembrandt 400", to celebrate the 400th birthday of Rembrandt van Rijn
. Some hotels offer special arrangements or activities during these years. The average number of guests per year staying at the four campsites around the city range from 12,000 to 65,000.
De Wallen (Red-light district)
De Wallen, also known as Walletjes or Rosse Buurt, is a designated area for legalised prostitution
and is Amsterdam's largest and best-known red-light district
. This neighbourhood has become a famous attraction for tourists. It consists of a network of canals, streets, and alleys containing several hundred small, one-room apartments rented by sex worker
s who offer their services from behind a window or glass door, typically illuminated with red lights. In recent years, the city government has been closing and repurposing the famous red-light district windows in an effort to clean up the area and reduce the amount of party and sex tourism.
Shops in Amsterdam range from large high-end department stores such as De Bijenkorf
founded in 1870 to small speciality shops. Amsterdam's high-end shops are found in the streets P.C. Hooftstraat
and ''Cornelis Schuytstraat'', which are located in the vicinity of the Vondelpark
. One of Amsterdam's busiest high streets is the narrow, medieval Kalverstraat
in the heart of the city. Other shopping areas include the ''Negen Straatjes'' and Haarlemmerdijk and Haarlemmerstraat. ''Negen Straatjes'' are nine narrow streets within the ''Grachtengordel'', the concentric canal system of Amsterdam. The Negen Straatjes differ from other shopping districts with the presence of a large diversity of privately owned shops. The Haarlemmerstraat and Haarlemmerdijk were voted best shopping street in the Netherlands in 2011. These streets have as the ''Negen Straatjes'' a large diversity of privately owned shops. However, as the ''Negen Straatjes'' are dominated by fashion stores, the Haarlemmerstraat and Haarlemmerdijk offer a wide variety of stores, just to name some specialities: candy and other food-related stores, lingerie, sneakers, wedding clothing, interior shops, books, Italian deli's, racing and mountain bikes, skatewear, etc.
The city also features a large number of open-air markets such as the Albert Cuyp Market
, Westerstraat-markt, Ten Katemarkt, and Dappermarkt
. Some of these markets are held daily, like the Albert Cuypmarkt and the Dappermarkt. Others, like the Westerstraatmarkt, are held every week.
Several fashion brands and designers are based in Amsterdam. Fashion designers include Iris van Herpen
, Mart Visser
, Viktor & Rolf
, Marlies Dekkers
and Frans Molenaar
. Fashion models like Yfke Sturm
, Doutzen Kroes
and Kim Noorda started their careers in Amsterdam. Amsterdam has its garment centre in the World Fashion Center. Fashion photographers Inez van Lamsweerde and Vinoodh Matadin
were born in Amsterdam.
During the later part of the 16th-century, Amsterdam's Rederijkerskamer (Chamber of rhetoric
) organised contests between different Chambers in the reading of poetry and drama. In 1637, Schouwburg
, the first theatre in Amsterdam was built, opening on 3 January 1638. The first ballet performances in the Netherlands were given in Schouwburg in 1642 with the ''Ballet of the Five Senses''. In the 18th century, French theatre became popular. While Amsterdam was under the influence of German music in the 19th century there were few national opera productions; the Hollandse Opera of Amsterdam was built in 1888 for the specific purpose of promoting Dutch opera. In the 19th century, popular culture was centred on the Nes area in Amsterdam (mainly vaudeville
). An improved metronome
was invented in 1812 by Dietrich Nikolaus Winkel
. The Rijksmuseum
(1885) and Stedelijk Museum
(1895) were built and opened. In 1888, the Concertgebouworkest
orchestra was established. With the 20th century came cinema, radio and television. Though most studios are located in Hilversum
, Amsterdam's influence on programming is very strong. Many people who work in the television industry live in Amsterdam. Also, the headquarters of the Dutch SBS Broadcasting Group
is located in Amsterdam.
The most important museums of Amsterdam are located on the Museumplein
(Museum Square), located at the southwestern side of the Rijksmuseum. It was created in the last quarter of the 19th century on the grounds of the former World's fair
. The northeastern part of the square is bordered by the large Rijksmuseum. In front of the Rijksmuseum on the square itself is a long, rectangular pond. This is transformed into an ice rink in winter.
The northwestern part of the square is bordered by the Van Gogh Museum, House of Bols Cocktail & Genever Experience and Coster Diamonds. The southwestern border of the Museum Square is the Van Baerlestraat, which is a major thoroughfare in this part of Amsterdam. The Concertgebouw is located across this street from the square. To the southeast of the square are several large houses, one of which contains the American consulate. A parking garage
can be found underneath the square, as well as a supermarket. The Museumplein is covered almost entirely with a lawn, except for the northeastern part of the square which is covered with gravel. The current appearance of the square was realised in 1999, when the square was remodelled. The square itself is the most prominent site in Amsterdam for festivals and outdoor concerts, especially in the summer. Plans were made in 2008 to remodel the square again because many inhabitants of Amsterdam are not happy with its current appearance.
possesses the largest and most important collection of classical Dutch art
It opened in 1885. Its collection consists of nearly one million objects. The artist most associated with Amsterdam is Rembrandt
, whose work, and the work of his pupils, is displayed in the Rijksmuseum. Rembrandt's masterpiece ''The Night Watch
'' is one of the top pieces of art of the museum. It also houses paintings from artists like Bartholomeus van der Helst
, Johannes Vermeer
, Frans Hals
, Ferdinand Bol
, Albert Cuyp
, Jacob van Ruisdael
and Paulus Potter
. Aside from paintings, the collection consists of a large variety of decorative art
. This ranges from Delftware
to giant doll-houses from the 17th century. The architect of the gothic revival
building was P.J.H. Cuypers. The museum underwent a 10-year, 375 million euro renovation starting in 2003. The full collection was reopened to the public on 13 April 2013 and the Rijksmuseum has remained the most visited museum in Amsterdam with 2.2 million visitors in 2016 and 2.16 million in 2017.
Van Gogh lived in Amsterdam for a short while and there is a museum dedicated to his work
. The museum is housed in one of the few modern buildings in this area of Amsterdam. The building was designed by Gerrit Rietveld
. This building is where the permanent collection is displayed. A new building was added to the museum in 1999. This building, known as the performance wing, was designed by Japanese architect Kisho Kurokawa
. Its purpose is to house temporary exhibitions of the museum.
Some of Van Gogh's most famous paintings, like ''The Potato Eaters
'' and ''Sunflowers
'', are in the collection. The Van Gogh museum is the second most visited museum in Amsterdam, not far behind the Rijksmuseum in terms of the number of visits, being approximately 2.1 million in 2016, for example.
Next to the Van Gogh museum stands the Stedelijk Museum
. This is Amsterdam's most important museum of modern art. The museum is as old as the square it borders and was opened in 1895. The permanent collection consists of works of art from artists like Piet Mondriaan
, Karel Appel
, and Kazimir Malevich
. After renovations lasting several years, the museum opened in September 2012 with a new composite extension that has been called 'The Bathtub' due to its resemblance to one.
Amsterdam contains many other museums throughout the city. They range from small museums such as the Verzetsmuseum
(Resistance Museum), the Anne Frank House
, and the Rembrandt House Museum
, to the very large, like the Tropenmuseum
(Museum of the Tropics), Amsterdam Museum
(formerly known as Amsterdam Historical Museum), Hermitage Amsterdam
(a dependency of the Hermitage Museum
in Saint Petersburg) and the Joods Historisch Museum
(Jewish Historical Museum). The modern-styled Nemo
is dedicated to child-friendly science exhibitions.
Amsterdam's musical culture includes a large collection of songs that treat the city nostalgically and lovingly. The 1949 song "Aan de Amsterdamse grachten" ("On the canals of Amsterdam") was performed and recorded by many artists, including John Kraaijkamp Sr.
; the best-known version is probably that by Wim Sonneveld
(1962). In the 1950s Johnny Jordaan
rose to fame with "Geef mij maar Amsterdam
" ("I prefer Amsterdam"), which praises the city above all others (explicitly Paris); Jordaan sang especially about his own neighbourhood, the Jordaan
("Bij ons in de Jordaan"). Colleagues and contemporaries of Johnny include Tante Leen
and Manke Nelis
. Another notable Amsterdam song is "Amsterdam
" by Jacques Brel
A 2011 poll by Amsterdam newspaper ''Het Parool
'' that Trio Bier's "Oude Wolf" was voted "Amsterdams lijflied". Notable Amsterdam bands from the modern era include the Osdorp Posse
and The Ex
(formerly known as the Heineken Music Hall) is a concert hall located near the Johan Cruyff Arena
(known as the Amsterdam Arena until 2018). Its main purpose is to serve as a podium for pop concerts for big audiences. Many famous international artists have performed there. Two other notable venues, Paradiso
and the Melkweg
are located near the Leidseplein
. Both focus on broad programming, ranging from indie rock
to hip hop
, and other popular genres. Other more subcultural music venues are OCCII
, De Nieuwe Anita, Winston Kingdom, and Zaal 100. Jazz
has a strong following in Amsterdam, with the Bimhuis
being the premier venue. In 2012, Ziggo Dome
was opened, also near Amsterdam Arena, a state-of-the-art indoor music arena.
is also host to many electronic dance music
festivals, alongside many other venues. Armin van Buuren
, some of the world's leading Trance
DJ's hail from the Netherlands and frequently perform in Amsterdam. Each year in October, the city hosts the Amsterdam Dance Event (ADE) which is one of the leading electronic music conferences and one of the biggest club festivals for electronic music in the world, attracting over 350,000 visitors each year. Another popular dance festival is 5daysoff, which takes place in the venues Paradiso
. In the summertime, there are several big outdoor dance parties in or nearby Amsterdam, such as Awakenings, Dance Valley
, Mystery Land
, Loveland, A Day at the Park, Welcome to the Future, and Valtifest.
Amsterdam has a world-class symphony orchestra, the Royal Concertgebouw Orchestra
. Their home is the Concertgebouw
, which is across the Van Baerlestraat from the Museum Square. It is considered by critics to be a concert hall
with some of the best acoustics
in the world. The building contains three halls, Grote Zaal, Kleine Zaal, and Spiegelzaal. Some nine hundred concerts and other events per year take place in the Concertgebouw, for a public of over 700,000, making it one of the most-visited concert halls in the world. The opera house of Amsterdam is located adjacent to the city hall. Therefore, the two buildings combined are often called the Stopera
, (a word originally coined by protesters against it very construction: ''Stop the Operahouse
'). This huge modern complex, opened in 1986, lies in the former Jewish neighbourhood at ''Waterlooplein'' next to the river Amstel
. The ''Stopera'' is the home base of Dutch National Opera
, Dutch National Ballet
and the Holland Symfonia
. Muziekgebouw aan 't IJ
is a concert hall, which is located in the IJ
near the central station. Its concerts perform mostly modern classical music
. Located adjacent to it, is the ''Bimhuis
'', a concert hall for improvised and Jazz
Amsterdam has three main theatre buildings.
at the Leidseplein
is the home base of Toneelgroep Amsterdam
. The current building dates from 1894. Most plays are performed in the Grote Zaal (Great Hall). The normal programme of events encompasses all sorts of theatrical forms. The Stadsschouwburg is currently being renovated and expanded. The third theatre space, to be operated jointly with next door Melkweg
, will open in late 2009 or early 2010.
The Dutch National Opera and Ballet
(formerly known as ''Het Muziektheater''), dating from 1986, is the principal opera house and home to Dutch National Opera
and Dutch National Ballet
. Royal Theatre Carré
was built as a permanent circus theatre in 1887 and is currently mainly used for musicals, cabaret
performances, and pop concerts.
The recently re-opened DeLaMar Theater houses the more commercial plays and musicals. A new theatre has also moved into Amsterdam scene in 2014, joining other established venues: Theater Amsterdam is located in the west part of Amsterdam, on the Danzigerkade. It is housed in a modern building with a panoramic view over the harbour. The theatre is the first-ever purpose-built venue to showcase a single play entitled ANNE, the play based on Anne Frank's life.
On the east side of town, there is a small theatre in a converted bathhouse, the Badhuistheater
. The theatre often has English programming.
The Netherlands has a tradition of cabaret or ''kleinkunst'', which combines music, storytelling, commentary, theatre and comedy. Cabaret dates back to the 1930s and artists like Wim Kan
, Wim Sonneveld
and Toon Hermans
were pioneers of this form of art in the Netherlands. In Amsterdam is the Kleinkunstacademie (English: Cabaret Academy) anNederlied
Kleinkunstkoor (English: Cabaret Choir). Contemporary popular artists are Youp van 't Hek
, Freek de Jonge
, Herman Finkers
, Hans Teeuwen
, Theo Maassen
, Herman van Veen
, Najib Amhali
, Raoul Heertje
, Jörgen Raymann
, Brigitte Kaandorp
. The English spoken comedy scene was established with the founding of Boom Chicago
in 1993. They have their own theatre at Leidseplein.
Amsterdam is famous for its vibrant and diverse nightlife. Amsterdam has many ''cafés
'' (bars). They range from large and modern to small and cosy. The typical ''Bruine Kroeg'' (brown ''café'') breathe a more old fashioned atmosphere with dimmed lights, candles, and somewhat older clientele. These brown cafés mostly offer a wide range of local and international artisanal beers. Most ''cafés'' have terraces in summertime. A common sight on the Leidseplein during summer is a square full of terraces packed with people drinking beer or wine. Many restaurants can be found in Amsterdam as well. Since Amsterdam is a multicultural city, a lot of different ethnic restaurants can be found. Restaurants range from being rather luxurious and expensive to being ordinary and affordable. Amsterdam also possesses many discothèque
s. The two main nightlife areas for tourists are the Leidseplein
and the Rembrandtplein
. The Paradiso
and Sugar Factory are cultural centres, which turn into discothèques on some nights. Examples of discothèques near the Rembrandtplein are the Escape, Air, John Doe and Club Abe. Also noteworthy are Panama, Hotel Arena (East), TrouwAmsterdam and Studio 80. In recent years '24-hour' clubs opened their doors, most notably Radion De School, Shelter and Marktkantine. Bimhuis
located near the Central Station, with its rich programming hosting the best in the field is considered one of the best jazz clubs in the world. The Reguliersdwarsstraat is the main street for the LGBT
community and nightlife.
In 2008, there were 140 festivals and events in Amsterdam.
Famous festivals and events in Amsterdam include: ''Koningsdag
'' (which was named ''Koninginnedag'' until the crowning of King Willem-Alexander in 2013) (King's Day – Queen's Day); the Holland Festival
for the performing arts; the yearly Prinsengrachtconcert
(classical concerto on the Prinsen canal) in August; the 'Stille Omgang
' (a silent Roman Catholic evening procession held every March); Amsterdam Gay Pride
; The Cannabis Cup
; and the Uitmarkt
. On Koningsdag—that is held each year on 27 April—hundreds of thousands of people travel to Amsterdam to celebrate with the city's residents. The entire city becomes overcrowded with people buying products from the ''freemarket,'' or visiting one of the many music concerts.
The yearly Holland Festival attracts international artists and visitors from all over Europe. Amsterdam Gay Pride
is a yearly local LGBT parade of boats in Amsterdam's canals, held on the first Saturday in August.
The annual Uitmarkt is a three-day cultural event at the start of the cultural season in late August. It offers previews of many different artists, such as musicians and poets, who perform on podia
Amsterdam is home of the ''Eredivisie
'' football club AFC Ajax
. The stadium Johan Cruyff Arena
is the home of Ajax. It is located in the south-east
of the city next to the new Amsterdam Bijlmer ArenA railway station
. Before moving to their current location in 1996, Ajax played their regular matches in the now demolished De Meer Stadion
in the eastern part of the city or in the Olympic Stadium
In 1928, Amsterdam hosted the Summer Olympics
. The Olympic Stadium
built for the occasion has been completely restored and is now used for cultural and sporting events, such as the Amsterdam Marathon
. In 1920, Amsterdam assisted in hosting some of the sailing
events for the Summer Olympics
held in neighbouring Antwerp
, Belgium by hosting events at Buiten IJ
The city holds the Dam to Dam Run
, a race from Amsterdam to Zaandam
, as well as the Amsterdam Marathon
. The ice hockey team Amstel Tijgers
play in the Jaap Eden
ice rink. The team competes in the Dutch ice hockey premier league. Speed skating
championships have been held on the 400-metre lane of this ice rink.
Amsterdam holds two American football
franchises: the Amsterdam Crusaders
and the Amsterdam Panthers. The Amsterdam Pirates
baseball team competes in the Dutch Major League
. There are three field hockey
teams: Amsterdam, Pinoké and Hurley, who play their matches around the Wagener Stadium
in the nearby city of Amstelveen
. The basketball team MyGuide Amsterdam
competes in the Dutch premier division and play their games in the Sporthallen Zuid.
There is one rugby club in Amsterdam, which also hosts sports training classes such as RTC (Rugby Talenten Centrum or Rugby Talent Centre) and the National Rugby stadium.
Since 1999, the city of Amsterdam honours the best sportsmen and women at the Amsterdam Sports Awards
. Boxer Raymond Joval
and field hockey midfielder Carole Thate
were the first to receive the awards, in 1999.
Amsterdam hosted the World Gymnaestrada
in 1991 and will do so again in 2023.
The city of Amsterdam is a municipality
under the Dutch Municipalities Act. It is governed by a directly elected municipal council
, a municipal executive board
and a mayor
. Since 1981, the municipality
of Amsterdam has gradually been divided into semi-autonomous boroughs
, called ''stadsdelen'' or 'districts'. Over time, a total of 15 boroughs were created. In May 2010, under a major reform, the number of Amsterdam boroughs
was reduced to eight: Amsterdam-Centrum
covering the city centre including the canal belt
consisting of the neighbourhoods north of the IJ lake
in the east, Amsterdam-Zuid
in the south, Amsterdam-West
in the west, Amsterdam Nieuw-West
in the far west, Amsterdam Zuidoost
in the southeast, and Westpoort
covering the Port of Amsterdam
As with all Dutch municipalities, Amsterdam is governed by a directly elected municipal council
, a municipal executive board
and a government appointed mayor
(''burgemeester''). The mayor is a member of the municipal executive board, but also has individual responsibilities in maintaining public order. On 27 June 2018, Femke Halsema
(former member of House of Representatives
from 1998 to 2011) was appointed as the first woman to be Mayor of Amsterdam
by the King's Commissioner
of North Holland
for a six-year term after being nominated by the Amsterdam municipal council
and began serving a six-year term on 12 July 2018. She replaces Eberhard van der Laan
) who was the Mayor of Amsterdam from 2010 until his death in October 2017. After the 2014 municipal council elections
, a governing majority of D66
was formed – the first coalition without the Labour Party
since World War II
. Next to the Mayor
, the municipal executive board
consists of eight ''wethouders'' ('alderpersons') appointed by the municipal council
: four D66
alderpersons, two VVD
alderpersons and two SP
On 18 September 2017, it was announced by Eberhard van der Laan
in an open letter to Amsterdam citizens that Kajsa Ollongren
would take up his office as acting Mayor of Amsterdam with immediate effect due to ill health. Ollongren was succeeded as acting Mayor by Eric van der Burg on 26 October 2017 and by Jozias van Aartsen
on 4 December 2017.
Unlike most other Dutch municipalities, Amsterdam is subdivided into eight boroughs
, called ''stadsdelen'' or 'districts', a system that was implemented gradually in the 1980s to improve local governance. The boroughs
are responsible for many activities that had previously been run by the central city. In 2010, the number of Amsterdam boroughs
reached fifteen. Fourteen of those had their own district council (''deelraad''), elected by a popular vote. The fifteenth, Westpoort
, covers the harbour of Amsterdam and had very few residents. Therefore, it was governed by the central municipal council.
Under the borough system, municipal decisions are made at borough level, except for those affairs pertaining to the whole city such as major infrastructure projects, which are the jurisdiction of the central municipal authorities. In 2010, the borough
system was restructured, in which many smaller boroughs merged into larger boroughs. In 2014, under a reform of the Dutch Municipalities Act, the Amsterdam boroughs
lost much of their autonomous status, as their district councils were abolished.
The municipal council of Amsterdam voted to maintain the borough system by replacing the district councils with smaller, but still directly elected district committees (''bestuurscommissies''). Under a municipal ordinance, the new district committees were granted responsibilities through delegation of regulatory and executive powers by the central municipal council.
thumb|Police headquarters of Amsterdam
"Amsterdam" is usually understood to refer to the municipality
of Amsterdam. Colloquially, some areas within the municipality, such as the town of Durgerdam
, may not be considered part of Amsterdam.
uses three other definitions of Amsterdam: metropolitan agglomeration Amsterdam (''Grootstedelijke Agglomeratie Amsterdam'', not to be confused with ''Grootstedelijk Gebied Amsterdam'', a synonym of ''Groot Amsterdam''), Greater Amsterdam (''Groot Amsterdam'', a COROP
region) and the urban region Amsterdam (''Stadsgewest Amsterdam'').
The Amsterdam Department for Research and Statistics uses a fourth conurbation, namely the ''Stadsregio Amsterdam'' ('City Region of Amsterdam'). The city region is similar to Greater Amsterdam but includes the municipalities of Zaanstad
. It excludes Graft-De Rijp
The smallest of these areas is the municipality
of Amsterdam with a population of 802,938 in 2013.
The conurbation had a population of 1,096,042 in 2013.
It includes the municipalities of Zaanstad, Wormerland, Oostzaan, Diemen and Amstelveen only, as well as the municipality of Amsterdam.
Greater Amsterdam includes 15 municipalities,
and had a population of 1,293,208 in 2013.
Though much larger in area, the population of this area is only slightly larger, because the definition excludes the relatively populous municipality of Zaanstad
. The largest area by population, the Amsterdam Metropolitan Area
(Dutch: Metropoolregio Amsterdam), has a population of 2,33 million.
It includes for instance Zaanstad, Wormerland, Muiden, Abcoude, Haarlem, Almere and Lelystad but excludes Graft-De Rijp. Amsterdam is part of the conglomerate metropolitan area Randstad
, with a total population of 6,659,300 inhabitants.
Of these various metropolitan area configurations, only the ''Stadsregio Amsterdam'' (City Region of Amsterdam) has a formal governmental status. Its responsibilities include regional spatial planning and the metropolitan public transport concessions.
Under the Dutch Constitution
, Amsterdam is the capital of the Netherlands
. Since the 1983 constitutional revision, the constitution mentions "Amsterdam" and "capital" in chapter 2, article 32: The king's confirmation by oath and his coronation take place in "the capital Amsterdam" ("''de hoofdstad Amsterdam''").
Previous versions of the constitution only mentioned "the city of Amsterdam" ("''de stad Amsterdam''"). For a royal investiture, therefore, the States General of the Netherlands
(the Dutch Parliament) meets for a ceremonial joint session in Amsterdam. The ceremony traditionally takes place at the Nieuwe Kerk
on Dam Square
, immediately after the former monarch has signed the act of abdication at the nearby Royal Palace of Amsterdam
. Normally, however, the Parliament sits in The Hague
, the city which has historically been the seat of the Dutch government
, the Dutch monarchy
, and the Dutch supreme court
. Foreign embassies are also located in The Hague.
The coat of arms of Amsterdam is composed of several historical elements. First and centre are three St Andrew's crosses
, aligned in a vertical band on the city's shield (although Amsterdam's patron saint
was Saint Nicholas
). These St Andrew's crosses can also be found on the city shields of neighbours Amstelveen
. This part of the coat of arms is the basis of the flag of Amsterdam
, flown by the city government, but also as civil ensign
for ships registered in Amsterdam. Second is the Imperial Crown of Austria
. In 1489, out of gratitude for services and loans, Maximilian I
awarded Amsterdam the right to adorn its coat of arms with the king's
crown. Then, in 1508, this was replaced with Maximilian's imperial crown
when he was crowned Holy Roman Emperor
. In the early years of the 17th century, Maximilian's crown in Amsterdam's coat of arms was again replaced, this time with the crown of Emperor Rudolph II
, a crown that became the Imperial Crown of Austria
. The lions date from the late 16th century, when city and province became part of the Republic of the Seven United Netherlands
. Last came the city's official motto: ''Heldhaftig, Vastberaden, Barmhartig'' ("Heroic, Determined, Merciful"), bestowed on the city in 1947 by Queen Wilhelmina
, in recognition of the city's bravery during the Second World War.
Metro, tram and bus
Currently, there are sixteen tram routes
and five metro routes
. All are operated by municipal public transport operator Gemeentelijk Vervoerbedrijf
(GVB), which also runs the city bus network.
Four fare-free GVB ferries carry pedestrians and cyclists across the IJ lake
to the borough
, and two fare-charging ferries run east and west along the harbour. There are also privately operated water taxis, a water bus, a boat sharing operation, electric rental boats and canal cruises, that transport people along Amsterdam's waterways.
Regional buses, and some suburban buses, are operated by Connexxion
. International coach services are provided by Eurolines
from Amsterdam Amstel railway station
from Amsterdam Sloterdijk railway station
, and Megabus
from the Zuiderzeeweg in the east of the city.
In order to facilitate easier transport to the centre of Amsterdam, the city has various P+R Locations where people can park their car at an affordable price and transfer to one of the numerous public transport lines.
Amsterdam was intended in 1932 to be the hub, a kind of Kilometre Zero
, of the highway system of the Netherlands
with freeways numbered One to Eight planned to originate from the city.
The outbreak of the Second World War and shifting priorities led to the current situation, where only roads A1
, and A4
originate from Amsterdam according to the original plan. The A3
was cancelled in 1970 in order to conserve the Groene Hart
. Road A8
, leading north to Zaandam
and the A10 Ringroad
were opened between 1968 and 1974.
Besides the A1, A2, A4 and A8, several freeways, such as the A7
, carry traffic mainly bound for Amsterdam.
The A10 ringroad
surrounding the city connects Amsterdam with the Dutch national network of freeways
on the A10 allow cars to enter the city by transferring to one of the 18 ''city roads'', numbered S101 through to S118. These city roads are regional roads without grade separation
, and sometimes without a central reservation
. Most are accessible by cyclists. The S100 ''Centrumring'' is a smaller ringroad circumnavigating the city's centre.
In the city centre, driving a car is discouraged. Parking fees are expensive, and many streets are closed to cars or are one-way
The local government sponsors carsharing
ing initiatives such as ''Autodelen'' and ''Meerijden.nu''.
The local government has also started removing parking spaces in the city, with the goal of removing 10,000 spaces (roughly 1,500 per year) by 2025
Amsterdam is served by ten stations
of the Nederlandse Spoorwegen
Five are intercity stops: Sloterdijk
, Bijlmer ArenA
and Amsterdam Centraal
. The stations for local services are: Lelylaan
and Science Park
. Amsterdam Centraal
is also an international railway station. From the station there are regular services to destinations such as Austria, Belarus, Belgium, Czechia, Denmark, France, Germany, Hungary, Poland, Russia, Switzerland and the United Kingdom. Among these trains are international trains of the Nederlandse Spoorwegen
(Amsterdam-Berlin), the Eurostar
(Amsterdam-Brussels-Paris/Lille), and Intercity-Express
Amsterdam Airport Schiphol
is less than 20 minutes by train from Amsterdam Centraal station
and is served by domestic and international intercity trains, such as Thalys
and Intercity Brussel. Schiphol is the largest airport in the Netherlands, the third-largest in Europe, and the 14th-largest in the world in terms of passengers. It handles over 68 million passengers per year and is the home base of four airlines, KLM
. , Schiphol was the fifth busiest airport in the world
measured by international passenger numbers.
This airport is 4 meters below sea level. Although Schiphol is internationally known as Amsterdam Schiphol Airport it actually lies in the neighbouring municipality of Haarlemmermeer, southwest of the city.
Amsterdam is one of the most bicycle-friendly large cities in the world and is a centre of bicycle culture
with good facilities for cyclists such as bike paths and bike racks
, and several guarded bike storage garages (''fietsenstalling'') which can be used.
According to the most recent figures published by Central Bureau of Statistics (CBS), in 2015 the 442.693 households (850.000 residents) in Amsterdam together owned 847.000 bicycles – 1.91 bicycle per household. Previously, wildly different figures were arrived at using a Wisdom of the crowd
approach. Theft is widespreadin 2011, about 83,000 bicycles were stolen in Amsterdam. Bicycles are used by all socio-economic groups because of their convenience, Amsterdam's small size, the of bike paths, the flat terrain, and the inconvenience of driving an automobile.
Amsterdam has two universities: the University of Amsterdam
(''Universiteit van Amsterdam'', UvA), and the ''Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam
'' (VU). Other institutions for higher education include an art school
– Gerrit Rietveld Academie
, a university of applied sciences
– the Hogeschool van Amsterdam
, and the Amsterdamse Hogeschool voor de Kunsten
. Amsterdam's International Institute of Social History
is one of the world's largest documentary and research institutions concerning social history
, and especially the history of the labour movement
. Amsterdam's Hortus Botanicus
, founded in the early 17th century, is one of the oldest botanical gardens in the world,
with many old and rare specimens, among them the coffee plant
that served as the parent for the entire coffee culture
in Central and South America.
There are over 200 primary schools in Amsterdam. Some of these primary schools base their teachings on particular pedagogic theories like the various Montessori
schools. The biggest Montessori high school in Amsterdam is the Montessori Lyceum Amsterdam
. Many schools, however, are based on religion. This used to be primarily Roman Catholicism and various Protestant denominations, but with the influx of Muslim immigrants, there has been a rise in the number of Islamic schools. Jewish schools can be found in the southern suburbs of Amsterdam.
Amsterdam is noted for having five independent grammar schools (Dutch: gymnasia), the Vossius Gymnasium
, Barlaeus Gymnasium
, St. Ignatius Gymnasium
, Het 4e Gymnasium
and the Cygnus Gymnasium where a classical curriculum including Latin
and classical Greek
is taught. Though believed until recently by many to be an anachronistic and elitist concept that would soon die out, the gymnasia have recently experienced a revival, leading to the formation of a fourth and fifth grammar school in which the three aforementioned schools participate. Most secondary schools in Amsterdam offer a variety of different levels of education in the same school. The city also has various colleges ranging from art and design to politics and economics which are mostly also available for students coming from other countries.
Schools for foreign nationals in Amsterdam include the Amsterdam International Community School
, British School of Amsterdam
, Albert Einstein International School Amsterdam
, Lycée Vincent van Gogh La Haye-Amsterdam
primary campus (French school), International School of Amsterdam
, and the Japanese School of Amsterdam
Amsterdam is a prominent centre for national and international media. Some locally based newspapers include ''Het Parool
'', a national daily paper; ''De Telegraaf
'', the largest Dutch daily newspaper; the daily newspapers ''Trouw
'', ''de Volkskrant
'' and ''NRC Handelsblad
''; ''De Groene Amsterdammer
'', a weekly newspaper; the free newspapers ''Metro
'' and ''The Holland Times
'' (printed in English).
Amsterdam is home to the second-largest Dutch commercial TV group SBS Broadcasting Group
, consisting of TV-stations SBS 6
, Net 5
. However, Amsterdam is not considered 'the media city of the Netherlands'. The town of Hilversum
, south-east of Amsterdam, has been crowned with this unofficial title. Hilversum is the principal centre for radio and television broadcasting in the Netherlands. Radio Netherlands
, heard worldwide via shortwave radio since the 1920s, is also based there. Hilversum is home to an extensive complex of audio and television studios belonging to the national broadcast production company NOS, as well as to the studios and offices of all the Dutch public broadcasting organisations and many commercial TV production companies.
In 2012, the music video of Far East Movement, 'Live My Life', was filmed in various parts of Amsterdam.
Also, several movies were filmed in Amsterdam, such as James Bond
's Diamonds Are Forever
, Ocean's Twelve
, Girl with a Pearl Earring
and The Hitman's Bodyguard
. Amsterdam is also featured in John Green
's book ''The Fault in Our Stars
'', which has been made into a film
as well that partly takes place in Amsterdam.
The housing market is heavily regulated. The increased influx of migrants, especially since the Syrian Civil War (2011–present), has been burdensome, economically and culturally, but the government deals with citizen and migrant cases for housing equally. According to the Netherlands' Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development, "60% of housing stock is controlled by housing corporations. here is
no different treatment for migrant groups".
From the late 1960s onwards many buildings in Amsterdam have been squatted
both for housing and for using as social centres.
A number of these squats have legalised and become well known, such as OCCII
, United Kingdom
Notes and references
* Charles Caspers & Peter Jan Margry (2017), ''Het Mirakel van Amsterdam. Biografie van een betwiste devotie'' (Amsterdam, Prometheus).
– Official government site
– Portal for international visitors
– Website of the Netherlands Board of Tourism and Conventions
Category:Capitals in Europe
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Category:Municipalities of North Holland
Category:Olympic cycling venues
Category:Populated places established in the 13th century
Category:Populated places in North Holland
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Category:Venues of the 1928 Summer Olympics