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Amsterdam Airport Schiphol
Luchthaven Schiphol
Schiphol Logo.png
Schiphol-plaza-ns.jpg
Schiphol's entrance
IATA: AMSICAO: EHAM
Summary
Airport type Public
Owner Schiphol Group
Serves Amsterdam, Netherlands
Location Haarlemmermeer
Hub for
Elevation AMSL -11 ft / -3 m
Coordinates 52°18′29″N 004°45′51″E / 52.30806°N 4.76417°E / 52.30806; 4.76417Coordinates: 52°18′29″N 004°45′51″E / 52.30806°N 4.76417°E / 52.30806; 4.76417
Website http://www.schiphol.com
Runways
Direction Length Surface
m ft
18R/36L 3,800 12,467 Asphalt
06/24 3,500 11,483 Asphalt
09/27 3,453 11,329 Asphalt
18L/36R 3,400 11,155 Asphalt
18C/36C 3,300 10,826 Asphalt
04/22 2,014 6,608 Asphalt
Sources: Airport website[1] and AIP[2]

Amsterdam Airport Schiphol (IATA: AMSICAO: EHAM) is the Netherlands' main international airport, located 20 minutes (4.9 NM (9.1 km; 5.6 mi)[2]) southwest of Amsterdam, in the municipality of Haarlemmermeer. The airport's official English name, Amsterdam Airport Schiphol, places the words in the Dutch order (Luchthaven Schiphol) instead of Amsterdam Schiphol Airport. The airport used to have the IATA code of SPL, which has fallen into disuse and has been replaced by AMS.

Contents

Description

KLM and NWA fleet at Schiphol

Schiphol is an important European airport, ranking as Europe’s 3rd largest and the world’s 14th largest for cargo tonnage. It also ranks as the world’s 3rd largest by international passenger traffic as well as Europe’s 5th and the world’s 14th busiest by overall passenger volume. Additionally, Schiphol ranks as Europe’s 5th and the world’s 17th busiest airport by number of flights, handling 446,569 traffic movements in 2008, a 1.7% drop on 2007. Schiphol's main competitors as in passenger and cargo throughput with London Heathrow Airport, Frankfurt Airport, Paris-Charles de Gaulle Airport and Madrid-Barajas Airport. In 2007, Schiphol handled 47,430,019 passengers in 2008, 0.8% down on 2007, ranking it fifth in Europe behind London, Paris, Frankfurt and Madrid. There are 188 loading slots in the whole airport.[3] About 68% of the passenger flights were to Europe, almost 21% of its passengers travelled on intercontinental flights and 11% to Asia; cargo was mainly headed to Asia (44%) and North America (20%).[4] In the same year, Schiphol handled 1,602,585 tons of cargo in 2008, a 3% downturn on 2007, ranking it third in Europe behind Paris and Frankfurt.[5] In 2005 direct flights were operated to more than 260 destinations in 91 countries. The airport is one out of four airports in the world to have a rating of four stars in Skytrax's grading system.[6]

Schiphol has five main runways, plus one used mainly by general aviation aircraft. The northern end of the Polderbaan, the name of last runway to be constructed, is 7 km north of the control tower, causing lengthy taxi times (up to 20 min) to the terminal.[7] Plans have been made for a seventh runway.

The airport is built as one large terminal, split into three large departure halls, which converge again once airside. The most recent of these was completed in 1994, and expanded in 2007 with a new part, named Terminal 4, although this part is not recognised as a separate building. Plans for further terminal expansion exist, including the construction of a separate new terminal between the Zwanenburgbaan and Polderbaan runways that would end the one-terminal concept.

Because of intense traffic and high landing fees, some low cost carriers decided to move their flights to smaller airports, such as Rotterdam The Hague Airport and Eindhoven Airport. Many low cost carriers (like easyJet or Bmibaby) continue to operate from Schiphol, using the low-cost H-pier.

Schiphol is the home base of KLM (Royal Dutch Airlines), Arkefly, Martinair, Amsterdam Airlines and Transavia.com, and a hub for Delta Air Lines in cooperation with KLM.

The Schiphol Air traffic control tower, with a height of 101 metres (331 ft), was the tallest in the world when constructed in 1991. Schiphol is geographically the world's lowest major commercial airport. The entire airport is below sea level; the lowest point sits at 11 feet (3.4 m) below sea level (or 4.5 feet (1.4 m) below the Dutch Normaal Amsterdams Peil (NAP)); the runways are around 3 metres (9.8 ft) below NAP.[8][9]

Infrastructure

Map showing the six runways of Schiphol.
Entrance to the airport's Rijksmuseum

Schiphol has large shopping areas as a source of revenue and as an additional attraction for passengers. Schiphol Plaza is the shopping centre before customs, hence it is used by air travelers and non-traveling visitors.

The Rijksmuseum operates an annex at the airport, offering a small overview of both classical and contemporary art[10]. Admission to the exhibits is free.

Schiphol has its own mortuary, where the dead can be handled and kept before departure or after arrival. Since October 2006, people can also get married at Schiphol[11].

For aviation enthusiasts, Amsterdam Airport Schiphol has a large rooftop viewing area, called the Panoramaterras. It is not accessible to connecting passengers. Enthusiasts and the public can enter, free of charge, from the airport's landside. Besides the Panoramaterras, Schiphol has other spotting sites, especially along the newest Polderbaan runway and at the McDonald's restaurant at the north side of the airport.

The wayfinding signage at Schiphol was designed in 1991 by Paul Mijksenaar[12].

History

Schiphol opened on 16 September 1916 as a military airbase, consisting of a few barracks and a field serving as both platform and runways. When civil aircraft started to make use of the field (17 December 1920), it was often called Schiphol-les-bains. The Fokker aircraft manufacturer started a factory near Schiphol airport in 1951.[citation needed]

Schiphol's name is derived from a former fortification named Fort Schiphol which was part of the Stelling van Amsterdam defence works.[13] Before 1852, the Haarlemmermeer polder in which the airport lies was a large lake, in the shallow waters of which sudden violent storms could claim many ships. This was the main reason for reclaiming it. In English, Schiphol translates to 'Ship Hole', a reference to the number of ships lost in the area.

Terminal

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Layout

The air traffic control tower at Schiphol in 1960
Inside the terminal
Shopping area
Schiphol Airport's observation deck
Air Traffic Control Towers (ATCTs) at Schiphol Airport

Schiphol uses a one terminal concept, where all facilities are located under a single roof, fanning off the central 'plaza'. The areas, though, are divided into three sections or halls: 1, 2 and 3. To all of these halls, piers or concourses are connected. However, it is possible, on both sides of security or customs, to walk from one pier to another, even if they are connected to different halls. The exception to this is the low-cost pier M: once airside (i.e. past security), passengers cannot go to any of the other halls or piers. Immigration control separates Schengen from non-Schengen areas. Schiphol Airport has approximately 165 boarding gates available.

Departure Hall 1
  • Consists of Piers B and C - both of which are dedicated Schengen areas.
Departure Hall 2
  • Consists of Piers D and E.
    • Pier D has two floor levels. The lower floor is used for non-Schengen flights, the upper floor is used for Schengen flights. By using stairs, the same jetways are used to access the aircraft. Schengen gates are numbered D-60 and up, non-Schengen gates are numbered from D-1 to D-59.
    • Pier E is a dedicated non-Schengen area.
Departure Hall 3
  • Consists of F, G, H and M.
    • Piers F, G and H are non-Schengen areas; of these, Piers H and M are the low-cost piers.
    • Pier M is a dedicated Schengen area.

Note: The airlines and destinations listed are not definite since very few airlines have a dedicated pier or gates; the piers listed below are based on regularity.

Airlines and destinations

Airlines Destinations Pier
Adria Airways Ljubljana B
Aer Lingus Cork, Dublin D
Aeroflot Moscow-Sheremetyevo D
Afriqiyah Airways Tripoli G
Air Arabia Maroc Casablanca G
Air Astana Atyrau, Uralsk D
Air Berlin Palma de Mallorca [seasonal] M
Air France Lyon, Paris-Charles de Gaulle C
Air France operated by CityJet Basel/Mulhouse C
Air France operated by Régional Clermont-Ferrand, Lyon, Nantes, Strasbourg C
Air Malta Malta C
Air Transat Calgary, Toronto-Pearson, Vancouver G
AirBaltic Riga, Vilnius D
Alitalia Milan-Linate, Rome-Fiumicino, Turin B
Arkefly Antalya, Aruba, Aqaba [Seasonal], Banjul, Boa Vista, Bonaire, Cancun, Curaçao, Fortaleza, Hurghada, Luxor, Kathmandu, Monastir, Montego Bay, Natal, Holguin, Porlamar, Puerto Plata, Punta Cana, St Maarten, Sal, Salvador da Bahia, Sharm el-Sheikh, Toronto-Pearson [seasonal], Varadero D, G
Armavia Yerevan D
Atlas Blue Al Hoceima, Essaouira [begins 7 August], Nador, Oujda, Tangier D, G
Austrian Airlines Vienna B
Austrian operated by Tyrolean Airways Vienna B
Belavia Minsk D
BMI London-Heathrow [ends 27 March] D
Bmibaby Birmingham, East Midlands, Manchester H
British Airways London-Gatwick, London-Heathrow D
British Airways operated by BA CityFlyer London-City D
Bulgaria Air Burgas [seasonal], Sofia D
Cathay Pacific Hong Kong E
China Airlines Bangkok-Suvarnabhumi, Taipei-Taoyuan F
China Southern Airlines Beijing-Capital, Guangzhou E
Cityjet London-City D
Continental Airlines Houston-Intercontinental, Newark G
Croatia Airlines Dubrovnik, Pula, Split, Zagreb D
Cyprus Airways Larnaca, Paphos D
Czech Airlines Prague D
Delta Air Lines Atlanta, Boston, Detroit, Memphis, Minneapolis/St. Paul, Montreal-Trudeau, Mumbai, New York-JFK [resumes 28 March], Newark, Portland (OR), Seattle/Tacoma, Toronto-Pearson E, F, G
EasyJet Belfast-International, Bristol, Doncaster/Sheffield [begins 19 April], Edinburgh, Liverpool, London-Gatwick, London-Luton, London-Stansted, Madrid, Milan-Malpensa, Prague [begins 14 May], Rome-Fiumicino, Split [begins 10 July] H, M
EasyJet Switzerland Basel/Mulhouse, Geneva M
EgyptAir Cairo G
El Al Tel Aviv G
Emirates Dubai [begins 1 May][14] G
Estonian Air Tallinn, Vilnius D
EVA Air Bangkok-Suvarnabhumi, Taipei-Taoyuan E
Finnair Helsinki B
Flybe Exeter, Southampton H
Garuda Indonesia Jakarta-Soekarno-Hatta [resumes 1 June][15] G
Georgian Airways Tbilisi D
Iberia Madrid B
Icelandair Reykjavik-Keflavík B
Iran Air Tehran-Imam Khomeini G
Israir Tel Aviv G
Japan Airlines Tokyo-Narita E
Jat Airways Belgrade D
Jet2.com Leeds/Bradford H
Kenya Airways Nairobi F
KLM Aberdeen, Abu Dhabi, Abuja, Accra, Addis Ababa, Almaty, Aruba, Athens, Atlanta, Bahrain, Bangkok-Suvarnabhumi, Barcelona, Beijing-Capital, Bergen, Berlin-Tegel, Birmingham, Bonaire, Bucharest-Otopeni, Cairo, Calgary, Cape Town, Chengdu, Chicago-O'Hare, Copenhagen, Curaçao, Dallas/Fort Worth, Damascus, Dammam, Dar es Salaam, Delhi, Denpasar/Bali, Doha, Dubai, Edinburgh, Entebbe, Geneva, Glasgow-International, Gothenburg-Landvetter, Guayaquil, Hangzhou [begins 8 May], Helsinki, Hong Kong, Houston-Intercontinental, Istanbul-Atatürk, Jakarta-Soekarno-Hatta, Johannesburg, Kano, Khartoum, Kiev-Boryspil, Kilimanjaro, Kuala Lumpur, Kuwait, Lagos, Lima, Lisbon, London-Heathrow, Los Angeles, Madrid, Manchester, Manila, Mexico City, Milan-Linate, Milan-Malpensa, Montréal-Trudeau, Moscow-Sheremetyevo, Munich, Muscat, Nairobi, New York–JFK, Nice, Osaka-Kansai, Oslo-Gardermoen, Panama City, Paramaribo, Paris-Charles de Gaulle, Quito, Rome-Fiumicino, St Maarten, St Petersburg, San Francisco, São Paulo-Guarulhos, Seoul-Incheon, Shanghai-Pudong, Singapore, Stockholm-Arlanda, Taipei-Taoyuan, Tehran-Imam Khomeini, Tel Aviv, Tokyo-Narita, Toronto-Pearson, Tripoli, Vancouver, Vienna, Warsaw, Washington-Dulles, Zürich B, C, D, E, F
KLM operated by KLM Cityhopper Aberdeen, Bergen, Berlin-Tegel, Billund, Birmingham, Bologna, Bordeaux, Bremen, Bristol, Brussels, Cardiff, Cologne/Bonn, Durham-Tees Valley, Düsseldorf, Edinburgh, Frankfurt, Geneva, Glasgow-International, Gothenburg-Landvetter, Hamburg, Hanover, Kingston upon Hull, Kristiansand, Leeds/Bradford, Linköping, Liverpool, London-Heathrow, Luxembourg, Manchester, Marseilles, Munich, Newcastle, Nice, Norwich, Nuremberg, Oslo-Gardermoen, Oslo-Sandefjord, Prague, Stavanger, Stuttgart, Toulouse, Trondheim, Venice-Marco Polo, Vienna, Zürich B, C, D, E, F
KLM operated by PrivatAir Houston-Intercontinental E
Korean Air Madrid, Seoul-Incheon G
LOT Polish Airlines Warsaw C
Lufthansa Frankfurt B
Lufthansa Regional operated by Lufthansa CityLine Hamburg, Munich B
Malaysia Airlines Kuala Lumpur F
Malév Hungarian Airlines Budapest D
Martinair Aruba, Cancun, Curaçao, Havana, Mombasa, Orlando, Puerto Plata, Punta Cana, Varadero G
Meridiana Florence C
Norwegian Air Shuttle Copenhagen, Oslo-Gardermoen M
Olympic Air Athens B
Pakistan International Airlines Islamabad, Istanbul-Atatürk, Lahore G
Pegasus Airlines Antalya, İstanbul-Sabiha Gökçen, Kayseri D, G
Pegasus operated by IZair Izmir G
Rossiya St Petersburg D
Royal Air Maroc Casablanca, Nador, Tangier D, G
Royal Jordanian Amman D
Scandinavian Airlines Copenhagen, Oslo-Gardermoen, Stockholm-Arlanda B
Singapore Airlines Singapore E
Sky Airlines Antalya D, G
SunExpress Antalya, İzmir, İstanbul-Sabiha Gökçen G
Surinam Airways Paramaribo G
Swiss International Airlines Zürich C
Swiss operated by Swiss European Air Lines Basel/Mulhouse C
Syrian Air Aleppo, Damascus D/G
TACV Sal D
TAP Portugal Lisbon, Porto [seasonal] B
TAP operated by Portugalia Porto [seasonal] B
TAROM Bucharest-Otopeni D
Transavia.com Agadir, Alicante, Almeria, Antalya, Banjul, Barcelona, Bergerac, Berlin-Tegel, Bodrum, Catania [begins 7 April], Corfu, Dalaman, Djerba, Dubrovnik, Faro, Fuerteventura, Funchal, Heraklion, İzmir, Kefalonia, Kithira, Kos, La Palma, Las Palmas de Gran Canaria, Lesbos, Lisbon, Malaga, Marrakech, Montpellier, Nice, Pau, Pisa, Preveza/Lefkas, Rovaniemi [seasonal], Olbia, Tenerife-South, Valencia, Venice-Treviso, Zakynthos B, C, D, G
Tunisair Tunis G
Turkish Airlines Ankara, Istanbul-Atatürk, Istanbul-Sabiha Gökçen, Kayseri [seasonal] G
Ukraine International Airlines Kiev-Boryspil D
United Airlines Chicago-O'Hare, Washington-Dulles G
US Airways Philadelphia G
Vueling Airlines Barcelona, Bilbao [begins 30 March], Ibiza [begins 4 June], La Coruña [begins 30 March], Malaga [seasonal], Seville [seasonal], Valencia [seasonal] B
Windjet Fòrli M

Cargo airlines

Other users

Ground transport

Rail

The construction of the tunnel and railway station in 1992

The Nederlandse Spoorwegen (NS), the national Dutch train operator, has a major passenger train station directly underneath the passenger terminal complex and offers the most convenient and cheap transportation into Amsterdam, Utrecht, The Hague or other cities. Besides intercity connections to Amsterdam Centraal, Utrecht, both The Hague Centraal and The Hague HS, Rotterdam and Eindhoven, this station is a stop for the international high-speed train Thalys, connecting the airport with a direct train connection to Antwerp, Brussels and Paris. Deutsche Bahn operates an InterCity train service from Schiphol airport to Berlin six times a day, running more or less every two hours. It runs via Amsterdam Zuid, Amersfoort, Bad Bentheim, Osnabrück and Hannover, taking about 6.5 hours from Schiphol to Berlin.

Bus

Buses serving Schiphol include the no. 300 "Zuidtangent" (South Tangent), which as its name implies describes a gentle curve linking Haarlem to the west and the Bijlmer to the north, mostly using a dedicated busway. A busway alongside the A4 motorway allows services from Amsterdam, for instance Connexxion routes to Alphen aan den Rijn, also to avoid traffic jams.

Accidents and incidents

The crash site of El Al Flight 1862 in 1992
The crash site of Turkish Airlines Flight 1951 on 25 February 2009
  • 14 November 1946, A Douglas C-47 operated by KLM from London approached Schiphol during bad weather conditions. The first two attempts to land failed. During the third attempt, the pilot realized that the airplane wasn't lined up properly with the runway. A sharp left turn was made at low speed, causing the left wing to hit the ground. The airplane crashed and caught fire, killing all 26 people on board, including the plane's crew of five.
  • 4 October 1992, El Al Flight 1862, a Boeing 747 cargo airplane heading to Tel Aviv, suffered physical engine separation of both right-wing engines (#3 and #4) just after taking off from Schiphol and crashed into an apartment building in the Bijlmer neighbourhood of Amsterdam while attempting to return to the airport. A total of 43 people were killed, including the plane's crew of three and a "non revenue passenger". Several others were injured.
  • 4 April 1994, Flight KL433 to Cardiff, a Saab 340 operated by KLM Cityhopper, returned to Schiphol after setting the number two engine to flight idle because the crew mistakenly believed that the engine suffered from low oil pressure because of a faulty warning light. On final approach at a height of 90 feet (27 m), the captain decided to go-around and gave full throttle on only the number one engine leaving the other in flight idle. The airplane rolled to the right, pitched up, stalled and hit the ground at 80 degrees bank. Of the twenty-four people on board, three were killed including the captain. Nine others were seriously injured.
  • 27 October 2005, a fire broke out at the airport's detention center, killing 11 people and injuring 15. The complex was holding 350 people at the time of the incident. Results from the investigation almost one year later showed that fire safety precautions were not in force. A national outrage resulted in the resignation of Justice Minister Donner (CDA) and Mayor Hartog of Haarlemmermeer. Spatial Planning Minister Dekker (VVD) resigned as well, because she bore responsibility for the construction, safety, and maintenance of state-owned buildings.
  • 25 February 2009, Turkish Airlines Flight 1951, a Boeing 737-800 from Istanbul crashed on approach to the airport's Polderbaan, just 1 km short of the runway. The plane carried 128 passengers and 7 crew on board. 9 people were killed and a further 86 were injured, including six with serious injuries. An initial report from the Dutch Safety Board revealed that the left radio altimeter had failed to provide the correct height above the ground and suddenly reported -8 feet. As a cause of this the autothrottle system closed the thrust levers to idle, as it is programmed to reduce thrust when below 27 feet radio altitude. This eventually resulted in a dropping airspeed which was not acted upon until it was too late to recover and the aircraft stalled and crashed in a field.
  • 25 December 2009, Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab, an Islamic terrorist from Nigeria, set off an explosive device on Northwest Airlines Flight 253, an Airbus A330 from Schiphol as the plane was landing at Detroit Metropolitan Wayne County Airport in Romulus, Michigan. The device failed to go off correctly, and the suspect suffered burns to his lower body. Three other passengers had minor injuries.[16]
  • 13 January 2010, an Arkefly Boeing 767-300 PH-AHQ operating flight OR361 from Amsterdam Airport Schiphol to Aruba Airport declared an emergency after a man who claimed to have a bomb on board began a struggle with the flight crew, the aircraft made an emergency landing at Shannon Airport. Gardai stormed the plane and arrested the man, where he was taken to Shannon Garda station. A passenger who had surgery the previous month collapsed in the terminal while waiting for the continuation of the flight and had to be taken to a local hospital. The replacement aircraft PH-AHY also a Boeing 767-300 continued the flight to Aruba.
  • 2 March 2010, a Corendon Airlines pilot, of Swedish origin, was arrested at Amsterdam Airport Schiphol after flying commercial jets for 13 years without a licence. He was due to fly a Boeing 737-400 to Ankara, Turkey with 101 passengers onboard when the Dutch police arrested him.[17][18] A back-up pilot was standing by to fly the jet to its destination. It is reported that he had clocked up to 10,000 hours flying passenger jets for various European airlines and 2 years with Corendon Airlines before the tip off from Swedish authorities. The licence he held was to fly light aircraft, but that licence expired 13 years before the incident.[19]

Airport Schiphol in popular culture

In the 1983 book Floodgate by Alistair MacLean, Schiphol is subjected to a terrorist attack, in which the entire airport is flooded after a bombing of the surrounding dikes.

Schiphol is also seen in the 2004 Bollywood movie Hum Tum.

The Dutch reality TV programme Hello Goodbye produced by broadcaster NCRV is filmed at the airport.

References

  1. ^ Amsterdam Airport Schiphol (official site)
  2. ^ a b EHAM – Amsterdam / Schiphol. AIP from AIS the Netherlands, effective 11 Mar 2010.
  3. ^ "Passenger Traffic 2006 Final". Airports Council International. 2007-07-18. http://www.aci.aero/cda/aci_common/display/main/aci_content07_c.jsp?zn=aci&cp=1-5-54-55_666_2__. 
  4. ^ "Annual report Schiphol Group 2007". Schipholgroup. 2007. http://www.schipholgroup.com/web/file?uuid=5c2b30e7-a78e-474a-857c-580a7b01cf41&owner=ce03cf16-bea6-4c18-9a9e-ed754692d123&langid=42. 
  5. ^ "Cargo Traffic 2006 Final". Airports Council International. 2007-07-18. http://www.aci.aero/cda/aci_common/display/main/aci_content07_c.jsp?zn=aci&cp=1-5-54-4819_666_2__. 
  6. ^ "Airport Star Ranking - 4 Star Airports". Skytrax. 2009. http://www.airlinequality.com/AirportRanking/4-Star.htm. Retrieved 2009-03-17. 
  7. ^ Airport Technology
  8. ^ Tourist Information on buildings and water managment
  9. ^ Algemeen Hoogtebestand Nederlands, official elevation map by the Ministry of Water and Transport
  10. ^ Rijksmuseum Amsterdam Schiphol
  11. ^ Will you marry me at the airport?
  12. ^ ""Amsterdam Airport Schipol"". 2009-05-18. http://www.mijksenaar.com/projects-quicktour/16-amsterdam_airport_schiphol.html. 
  13. ^ (Dutch) Stelling van Amsterdam - Fort van het Schiphol
  14. ^ Emirates says it with flowers by announcing flights to Amsterdam
  15. ^ Garuda Indonesia to resume Amsterdam from 1st June 2010
  16. ^ Officials: Possible terror attack on Northwest jet
  17. ^ 'Fake pilot' arrested moments before take-off
  18. ^ Swedish pilot flew 13 years without licence
  19. ^ Swedish pilot flew without licence for 13 years
http://www.cnn.com/2010/POLITICS/01/07/terror.report.findings/index.html
(deutsch: phoenix.de 08.01.2009 12:20 bis 12:35 -weblink phoenix.de?-) (Time: 10mins)

Bibliography

  • Heuvel, Coen van den. Schiphol, een Wereldluchthaven in Beeld, Holkema & Warendorf, 1992, 978-9-0269-6271-4

External links


Amsterdam
—  Municipality / City  —
From left to right and top to bottom: Rijksmuseum Amsterdam, Statue in the Vondelpark, Keizersgracht, Zuiderkerk, Royal Palace (Amsterdam), ING House
File:Flag of
Flag
Nickname(s): Mokum, Venice of the North
Motto: Heldhaftig, Vastberaden, Barmhartig
(Valiant, Steadfast, Compassionate)
Coordinates: 52°22′23″N 4°53′32″E / 52.37306°N 4.89222°E / 52.37306; 4.89222Coordinates: 52°22′23″N 4°53′32″E / 52.37306°N 4.89222°E / 52.37306; 4.89222
Country Netherlands
Province North Holland
COROP Amsterdam
Boroughs Boroughs
Government
 - Mayor Eberhard van der Laan (Labour Party)
 - Aldermen Carolien Gehrels
Hans Gerson
Maarten van Poelgeest
Freek Ossel
Marijke Vos
 - Secretary Henk de Jong
Area[1][2]
 - Municipality / City 219 km2 (84.6 sq mi)
 - Land 166 km2 (64.1 sq mi)
 - Water 53 km2 (20.5 sq mi)
 - Metro 1,815 km2 (700.8 sq mi)
Elevation[3] 2 m (7 ft)
Population (October 2010)[4][5]
 - Municipality / City 1,211,503
 Density 4,459/km2 (11,548.8/sq mi)
 Urban 1,364,422
 Metro 2,158,372
 - Demonym Amsterdammer
Time zone CET (UTC+01)
 - Summer (DST) CEST (UTC+02) (UTC)
Postal codes 1011–1109
Area code(s) 020
Website www.amsterdam.nl

Amsterdam (pronounced /ˈæmstərdæm/; Dutch [ɑmstərˈdɑm] ) is the capital and largest city of the Netherlands, with an urban population of 1,364,422 and a metropolitan population of 2,158,372. The city is located in the province of North Holland in the west of the country. It comprises the northern part of the Randstad, the sixth-largest metropolitan area in Europe, with a population of approximately 6.7 million.

Its name is derived from Amstellerdam,[6] indicative of the city's origin: a dam in the river Amstel. Settled 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, a result of its innovative developments in trade. During that time, the city was the leading centre for finance and diamonds.[7] In the 19th and 20th centuries, the city expanded, and many new neighbourhoods and suburbs were formed. The 17th-century canals of Amsterdam (in Dutch: 'Grachtengordel'), located in the heart of Amsterdam, were added to the UNESCO World Heritage List in July 2010.

The city is the financial and cultural capital of the Netherlands.[8] Many large Dutch institutions have their headquarters there, and 7 of the world's top 500 companies, including Philips and ING, are based in the city.[9] In 2010, Amsterdam was ranked 13th globally on quality of living[10] by Mercer, and previously ranked 3rd in innovation by 2thinknow in the Innovation Cities Index 2009.[11]

The Amsterdam Stock Exchange, the oldest stock exchange in the world, is located in the city centre. Amsterdam's main attractions, including its historic canals, the Rijksmuseum, the Van Gogh Museum, Stedelijk Museum, Hermitage Amsterdam, Anne Frank House, its red-light district, and its many cannabis coffee shops draw more than 3.66 million international visitors annually.[12]

Contents

History

The earliest recorded use of the name "Amsterdam" is from a certificate dated 27 October 1275, when the inhabitants, who had built a bridge with a dam across the Amstel, were exempted from paying a bridge toll by Count Floris V.[13] The certificate describes the inhabitants as homines manentes apud Amestelledamme (people living near Amestelledamme).[14] By 1327, the name had developed into Aemsterdam.[13] Amsterdam's founding is relatively recent compared with much older Dutch cities such as Nijmegen, Rotterdam, and Utrecht. In October 2008, historical geographer Chris de Bont suggested that the land around Amsterdam was being reclaimed as early as the late 10th century. This does not necessarily mean that there was already a settlement then since reclamation of land may not have been for farming—it may have been for peat, used as fuel.[15]

File:Cornelis anthonisz vogelvluchtkaart
A painting depicting Amsterdam as of 1544. The famous Grachtengordel had not yet been established.

Amsterdam was granted city rights in either 1300 or 1306.[16] From the 14th century on, Amsterdam flourished, largely because of trade with the Hanseatic League. In 1345, an alleged Eucharistic miracle in the Kalverstraat rendered the city an important place of pilgrimage until the adoption of the Protestant faith. The Stille Omgang—a silent procession in civil attire—is today a remnant of the rich pilgrimage history.[17]

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 Spanish Inquisition. The revolt escalated into the Eighty Years' War, which ultimately led to Dutch independence.[18] Strongly pushed by Dutch Revolt leader William the Silent, the Dutch Republic became known for its relative religious tolerance. Jews from the Iberian Peninsula, Huguenots 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.[19]

[[File:|thumb|left|Dam Square in the late-17th century: painting by Gerrit Adriaenszoon Berckheyde]]

The 17th century is considered Amsterdam's Golden Age, during which it became the wealthiest city in the world.[20] 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. 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 world.[21] In 1602, the Amsterdam office of the Dutch East India Company became the world's first stock exchange by trading in its own shares.[22]

Amsterdam lost over 10% of its population to plague in 1623–1625, and again in 1635–1636, 1655, and 1664. Nevertheless, the population of Amsterdam rose in the 17th century (largely through immigration) from 50,000 to 200,000.[23]

Amsterdam's prosperity declined during the 18th and early 19th centuries. The wars of the Dutch Republic with England 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.

[[File:|thumb|left|The Singel with the Munttoren in the background, ca. 1900.]] The end of the 19th century is sometimes called Amsterdam's second Golden Age.[24] New museums, a train 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 began expanding, 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.[25]

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 the high risk of being imprisoned or sent to concentration camps. More than 100,000 Dutch Jews were deported to Nazi concentration camps. Perhaps the most-famous deportee was the young Jewish girl Anne Frank, who died in the Bergen-Belsen concentration camp.[26] 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 traveled to the countryside to forage. Dogs, cats, raw sugar beets, and Tulip bulbs—cooked to a pulp—were consumed to stay alive.[27] Most of the trees in Amsterdam were cut down for fuel, and all the wood was taken from the apartments of deported Jews.

[[File:|thumb|right|Subway station Nieuwmarkt with historic images of the Newmarket riots]] Many new suburbs, such as Osdorp, Slotervaart, Slotermeer, and Geuzenveld, were built in the years after the Second World War.[28] 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 incidents 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 new roads as the automobile became available to most common people.[29] A metro started operating in 1977 between the new suburb of Bijlmer and the centre of Amsterdam. Further plans were to build a new highway above the metro to connect the Central Station and city centre with other parts of the city.

The incorporated large-scale demolitions began in Amsterdam's formerly Jewish neighbourhood. Smaller streets, such as the Jodenbreestraat, were widened and saw almost all of their houses demolished. During the destruction's peak, the Nieuwmarktrellen (Nieuwmarkt riots) broke out,[30] where people expressed their fury about the demolition caused by the restructuring of the city. As a result, the demolition was stopped, and the highway was never built, with only the metro being finished. 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 with the aim of restoring the entire city centre. Although the success of this struggle is visible today, efforts for further restoration are still ongoing.[29] The entire city centre has reattained its former splendor and, as a whole, is now a protected area. Many of its buildings have become monuments, and in July 2010 the Grachtengordel (Herengracht, Keizersgracht, and Prinsengracht) was added to the UNESCO World Heritage List.[31]

Geography

Amsterdam is part of the province of North-Holland and is located in the west of the Netherlands next to the provinces of Utrecht and Flevoland. The river Amstel terminates in the city centre and connects to a large number of canals that eventually terminate in the IJ. Amsterdam is situated 2 metres above sea level.[3] The surrounding land is flat as it is formed of large polders. To the southwest of the city lies a man-made forest called het Amsterdamse Bos. Amsterdam is connected to the North Sea through the long North Sea Canal.

Amsterdam is intensely urbanized, as is the Amsterdam metropolitan area surrounding the city. Comprising 219.4 square kilometres of land, the city proper has 4,457 inhabitants per km2 and 2,275 houses per km2.[32] Parks and nature reserves make up 12% of Amsterdam's land area.[33]

Climate

Amsterdam has a cool oceanic climate (Köppen climate classification Cfb), strongly influenced by its proximity to the North Sea to the west, with prevailing north-western winds and gales. Winter temperatures are cool to mild. Amsterdam, as well as most of the North-Holland province, lies in USDA Hardiness zone 9, the northernmost such occurrence in continental Europe. Frosts mainly occur during spells of easterly or northeasterly winds from the inner European continent, from Scandinavia, Russia, or even Siberia. Even then, because Amsterdam is surrounded on three sides by large bodies of water, as well as enjoying a significant heat island effect, nights rarely fall below Template:Convert/°C, while it could easily be Template:Convert/°C in Hilversum, 25 kilometres southeast. Summers are moderately warm but rarely hot. The average daily high in August is Template:Convert/°C, and Template:Convert/°C or higher is only measured on average on 3 days, placing Amsterdam in AHS Heat Zone 2. Days with measurable precipitation are common, on average 186 days per year. Nevertheless, Amsterdam's average annual precipitation is only 780 millimetres (30.7 in). Most of this precipitation is in the form of protracted drizzle or light rain, making cloudy and damp days common during the cooler months of October through March. Only the occasional European windstorm brings significant rain in a short period of time, requiring it to be pumped out to higher ground or to the seas around the city.

Climate data for Amsterdam (Schiphol, 1971-2000)
Month Jan Feb Mar Apr May Jun Jul Aug Sep Oct Nov Dec Year
Average high °C (°F) 5.4
(41.7)
6.0
(42.8)
9.2
(48.6)
12.4
(54.3)
17.1
(62.8)
19.2
(66.6)
21.4
(70.5)
21.8
(71.2)
18.4
(65.1)
14.1
(57.4)
9.2
(48.6)
6.5
(43.7)
13.4
(56.1)
Average low °C (°F) 0.5
(32.9)
0.2
(32.4)
2.4
(36.3)
4.0
(39.2)
7.8
(46)
10.4
(50.7)
12.5
(54.5)
12.3
(54.1)
10.2
(50.4)
7.0
(44.6)
3.9
(39)
1.9
(35.4)
6.1
(43)
Precipitation mm (inches) 62.1
(2.445)
43.4
(1.709)
58.9
(2.319)
41.0
(1.614)
48.3
(1.902)
67.5
(2.657)
65.8
(2.591)
61.4
(2.417)
82.1
(3.232)
85.1
(3.35)
89.0
(3.504)
74.9
(2.949)
779.5
(30.689)
Humidity 89 86 84 79 77 80 81 80 84 87 89 90 83.8
Avg. precipitation days 17 13 18 14 14 14 13 13 16 17 19 18 186
Sunshine hours 53.0 80.1 116.3 165.7 217.4 200.4 207.9 201.3 132.9 103.0 58.3 44.9 1,581.2
Source #1: Royal Netherlands Meteorological Institute [34]
Source #2: World Meteorological Organisation [35]

Cityscape and architecture

[[File:|thumb|right|A bird's-eye view of Amsterdam's city centre]] Amsterdam fans out south from the Amsterdam Centraal railway station. The Damrak is the main street and leads into the street Rokin. The oldest area of the town is known as de Wallen (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 17th century canals of Amsterdam, known as the Grachtengordel, 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 polders. This can be recognized by the suffix -meer which means lake, as in Aalsmeer, Bijlmermeer, Haarlemmermeer, and Watergraafsmeer.

Canals

The Amsterdam canal system is the result of conscious city planning.[36] 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 (Gentlemen's or more accurately Patricians' Canal), Keizersgracht (Emperor's Canal), and Prinsengracht (Prince's Canal). The fourth and outermost canal, the Singelgracht (not to be confused with the older Singel), served the purposes of defense and water management. The defenses took the form of a moat and earthen dikes, with gates at transit points, but otherwise no masonry superstructures.[37] 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.[38]

File:1885 NZVoorburgwal (Christiaan le Blansch).jpg
A woodcut (1885) of the Nieuwezijds Voorburgwal, a canal that is now filled in

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, theaters, other public facilities, and waterways without much planning.[39]

Over the years, several canals have been filled in, becoming streets or squares, such as the Nieuwezijds Voorburgwal and the Spui.[40]

Expansion

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.[41][42][43]

Following Sarphati, Van Niftrik and 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.[44] Most of these neighbourhoods became home to the working class.[45]

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.[46][47]

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 situated 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.[48][49]

Architecture

[[File:|thumb|upright|right|Built in the Renaissance style, designed by the Dutch architect Hendrick de Keyser, the Westertoren(1637)is the highest church tower (85m)in Amsterdam.]] Amsterdam has a rich architectural history. The oldest building in Amsterdam is the Oude Kerk (Old Church), at the heart of the Wallen, consecrated in 1306.[50] The oldest wooden building is het Houten Huys[51] 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.

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 recognizable, since they have a façade which ends at the top in the shape of a stairway. This is, however, 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.[52] One of the most striking buildings designed by Hendrick de Keyer 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, Philip Vingboons and Daniel Stalpaert.[53]
File:Thèrése Schwartzeplein
Early 20th century houses in the architecture of the Amsterdam School

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.[54] 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.[55] 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 Art Deco 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.

Government

The administration of the municipality of Amsterdam is divided into 15 boroughs or stadsdelen; the central one, Centrum, being circled by Westerpark, Bos en Lommer, De Baarsjes, Oud-West, Oud-Zuid, Oost/Watergraafsmeer, Zeeburg and Amsterdam-Noord, with the six outer boroughs (Westpoort, Geuzenveld-Slotermeer, Osdorp, Slotervaart, Zuideramstel, and Zuidoost) creating a further encirclement.[56] On 1 May 2010, the number of boroughs was reduced to eight (Centrum, Noord, Oost, Zuid, West, Nieuw-West, Zuidoost, and Westpoort).

Definitions

File:Amsterdamse stadsdelen
The 8 boroughs of Amsterdam

"Amsterdam" is usually understood to refer to the municipality of Amsterdam. Colloquially, some areas within the municipality, such as the village of Durgerdam, may not be considered part of Amsterdam. Statistics Netherlands 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).[4] These definitions are not synonymous with the terms urban area and metropolitan area, which are commonly used in English speaking countries for the purpose of defining large conurbations. The Amsterdam Department for Research and Statistics uses a fourth conurbation, namely the City region Amsterdam. This region is similar to Greater Amsterdam but includes the municipalities Zaanstad and Wormerland. It excludes Graft-De Rijp.

The smallest of these areas is the municipality, with a population of 742,981 in 2006.[57] The metropolitan agglomeration had a population of 1,021,870 in 2006.[57] It includes the municipalities of Zaanstad, Wormerland, Oostzaan, Diemen and Amstelveen only, as well as the municipality of Amsterdam. Greater Amsterdam includes 15 municipalities,[58] and had a population of 1,211,503 in 2006.[57] 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 2,22 million.[57] It includes for instance Zaanstad, Wormerveer, Muiden, Abcoude, Haarlem, Almere and Lelystad but excludes Graft De Rijp. Amsterdam is also part of the conglomerate metropolitan area Randstad, with a total population of 6,659,300 inhabitants.[5]

City government

As with all Dutch municipalities, Amsterdam is governed by a mayor, aldermen, and the municipal council. However, unlike most other Dutch municipalities, Amsterdam is subdivided into seven "stadsdelen" (boroughs), a system that was implemented in the 1980s to improve local governance. The stadsdelen are responsible for many activities that had previously been run by the central city. The city had initially been divided into 15 stadsdelen. Fourteen of those had their own council, chosen by a popular election. The fifteenth, Westpoort, covers the harbour of Amsterdam, had very few residents, and was governed by the central municipal council. Local decisions are made at borough level, and only affairs pertaining to the whole city, such as major infrastructure projects, are handled by the central city council.

National government

Amsterdam is the capital of the Netherlands in a technical legal sense. The present version of the Dutch constitution mentions "Amsterdam" and "capital" only in one place, 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 spoke of "the city of Amsterdam" ("de stad Amsterdam"), without mention of capital.[59] In any case, the seat of the government, parliament and supreme court of the Netherlands is (and always has been, with the exception of a brief period between 1808 and 1810) located at The Hague. Foreign embassies are also in The Hague. The capital of North Holland is Haarlem.

Symbols

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 cityshields of neighbours Amstelveen and Ouder-Amstel. 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.

Economy

[[File:|thumb|right|350px|The Zuidas district is the main business district of Amsterdam and is still largely under construction. Many Dutch multinationals have their headquarters here, like ABN Amro and Akzo Nobel.]] Amsterdam is the financial and business capital of the Netherlands.[60] Amsterdam is currently one of the best European cities in which to locate an International Business. It is ranked fifth in this category and is only surpassed by London, Paris, Frankfurt and Barcelona.[61] Many large Dutch corporations and banks have their headquarters in Amsterdam, including ABN AMRO, Akzo Nobel, Heineken International, ING Group, Ahold, TomTom, Delta Lloyd Group and Philips. KPMG International's global headquarters is located in nearby Amstelveen, where many non-Dutch companies have settled as well due to the fact that surrounding communities allow full land ownership, contrary to Amsterdam's land-lease system.

Though many small offices are still located on the old canals, companies are increasingly relocating outside the city centre. The Zuidas (English: South Axis) has become the new financial and legal hub.[62] The five largest law firms of the Netherlands, a number of Dutch subsidiaries of large consulting firms like Boston Consulting Group and Accenture, and the World Trade Center Amsterdam are also located in Zuidas.

There are three other smaller financial districts in Amsterdam. The first is the area surrounding Amsterdam Sloterdijk railway station, where several newspapers like De Telegraaf have their offices. Also, the municipal public transport company (Gemeentelijk Vervoersbedrijf) and the Dutch tax offices (Belastingdienst) are located there. The second Financial District is the area surrounding Amsterdam Arena. The third is the area surrounding Amsterdam Amstel railway station. The tallest building in Amsterdam, the Rembrandt Tower, is situated there, as is the headquarters of Philips.[63][64]

The Amsterdam Stock Exchange (AEX), nowadays part of Euronext, is the world's oldest stock exchange and is one of Europe's largest bourses. It is situated near Dam Square in the city's centre.

Tourism

[[File:|thumb|upright|Anne Frank House]] Amsterdam is one of the most popular tourist destinations in Europe, receiving more than 4.63 million international visitors annually.[12] 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 78% in 2006, up from 70% in 2005.[65] 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.[65] 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.[65]

Red light district

De Wallen, also known as Walletjes or Rosse Buurt, is a designated area for legalized prostitution and is Amsterdam's largest and most well known red-light district. This neighborhood has become a famous tourist attraction. It consists of a network of roads and alleys containing several hundred small, one-room apartments rented by sex workers who offer their services from behind a window or glass door, typically illuminated with red lights.

Retail

Shops in Amsterdam range from large department stores such as De Bijenkorf founded in 1870 and Maison de Bonneterie a Parisian style store founded in 1889, to small specialty shops. Amsterdam's high-end shops are found in the streets Pieter Cornelisz 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. Another shopping area is the Negen Straatjes: 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 city also features a large number of open-air markets such as the Albert Cuypmarkt, Westermarkt, Ten Katemarkt, and Dappermarkt.

Fashion

Fashion brands like G-star, Gsus, BlueBlood, Iris van Herpen, 10 feet and Warmenhoven & Venderbos, and fashion designers like Mart Visser, Viktor & Rolf, Sheila de Vries, Marlies Dekkers and Frans Molenaar are based in Amsterdam. Modelling agencies Elite Models, Touche models and Tony Jones have opened branches in Amsterdam. Supermodels Yfke Sturm, Doutzen Kroes and Kim Noorda started their careers in Amsterdam. Amsterdam has its garment centre in the World Fashion Center. Buildings which formerly housed brothels in the red light district have been converted to ateliers for young fashion designers.

Demographics

In the 16th and 17th century non-Dutch immigrants to Amsterdam were mostly Huguenots, Flemings, Sephardi Jews and Westphalians. 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.

The first mass immigration in the 20th century were 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 seventies and eighties, many 'old' Amsterdammers moved to 'new' cities like Almere and Purmerend, prompted by the third planological bill of the Dutch government. This bill promoted suburbanization 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 children.[66][67][68]

[[File:|thumb|left|Immigration has led to demographic changes in many neighborhoods in Amsterdam, such as Osdorp pictured here.]]

The largest religious group are Christians, who are divided between Roman Catholics and Protestants. The next largest religion is Islam, most of whose followers are Sunni.[69]

In 1578 the previously Roman Catholic city of Amsterdam joined the revolt against Spanish rule, late in comparison to other major northern Dutch cities. In line with Protestant procedure of that time, all churches were converted to Protestant worship. Calvinism became the dominant 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 churches, behind seemingly ordinary canal side house fronts. One example is the current debate centre de Rode Hoed. [[File:|thumb|left|The Amsterdam Esnoga]] A large influx of foreigners of many religions came to 17th-century Amsterdam, in particular Sefardic Jews from Spain and Portugal, Huguenots from France, and Protestants from the Southern Netherlands. This led to the establishment of many non-Dutch-speaking religious churches. In 1603, the first notification was made of Jewish religious service. In 1639, the first Jewish synagogue was consecrated.[citation needed]

As they became established in the city, other Christian denominations 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.[70] The Huguenots accounted for nearly 20% of Amsterdam's inhabitants in 1700. Being Calvinists, they soon integrated into the Dutch Reformed Church, though often retaining their own congregations. Some, commonly referred by the moniker 'Walloon', are recognizable 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, which continued into the 19th century. Jews often fled the pogroms in those areas. The first Ashkenazi who arrived in Amsterdam were refugees from the Chmielnicki Uprising in Poland and the Thirty Years War. They not only founded their own synagogues, but had a strong influence on the 'Amsterdam dialect' adding a large Yiddish local vocabulary.

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 neighborhood was the Jodenbreestraat. The neighborhood comprised the Waterlooplein and the Nieuwmarkt.[71] Buildings in this neighborhood 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 and the neighborhood 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, which led to a refusal of Protestant King William III to open 'that monastery'. In 1924, the Roman Catholic Church of the Netherlands hosted the International Eucharistic Congress in Amsterdam, and numerous Catholic prelates 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 normalized, but despite its far larger population size, the Catholic clergy chose to place its episcopal see of the city in the nearby provincial town of Haarlem.[72]

In recent times, religious demographics in Amsterdam have been changed by large-scale immigration from former colonies. Immigrants from Suriname have introduced Evangelical Protestantism and Lutheranism, from the Hernhutter variety; Hinduism has been introduced mainly 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 and Nigerian immigrants have established African churches, often in parking garages in the Bijlmer area, where many have settled. In addition, a broad array of other religious movements have established congregations, including Buddhism, Confucianism and Hinduism.

Although the saying "Leef en laat leven" or "Live and let live" summarises the Dutch and especially the Amsterdam open and tolerant society, the increased influx of many races, religions, and cultures after the Second World War, has on a number of occasions strained social relations. With 176 different nationalities, Amsterdam is home to one of the widest varieties of nationalities of any city in the world.[73]

Demographic evolution of Amsterdam between 1300[74] and 2006[4]
1300[74] 1400[75] 1500[75] 1600[75] 1675[76] 1796[76] 1810[77] 1850[78] 1879[78] 1900[6] 1930[77] 2006[4]
1,000 3,000 15,000 54,000 206,000 200,600 180,000 224,000 317,000 523,577 757,000 742,981

Transport

[[File:|right|thumb|upright|A bicyclist crossing a bridge over the Leidsegracht.]] [[File:|thumb|left|Bicycles are ubiquitous in Amsterdam.]]

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 for a nominal fee. In 2006, there were about 465,000 bicycles in Amsterdam.[79] Theft is widespread – in 2005, about 54,000 bicycles were stolen in Amsterdam.[80] Bicycles are used by all socio-economic groups because of their convenience, Amsterdam's small size, the 400 km of bike paths,[81] the flat terrain, and the arguable inconvenience of driving an automobile. The bike paths or (Fietspad) are coloured brown, in order to differentiate them from pedestrian sidewalks. A wide variety of bicycles are used, such as road bicycles, mountain bikes, racing bikes and even recumbent bikes, but the vast majority of bicycles are second-hand, older-model, heavy bikes with one gear and back-pedal coaster brakes. Many tourists discover Amsterdam by bike, which is the typical Dutch way. Bike Tour Amsterdam offers a guided bike tour through the city. Bicycle traffic, and traffic in general, is relatively safe – in 2007, Amsterdam had a total of 18 traffic deaths, compared with 26 people murdered.[82][83]

In the city centre, driving a car is discouraged. Parking fees are expensive, and many streets are closed to cars or are one-way.[84] The local government sponsors carsharing and carpooling initiatives such as Autodelen and Meerijden.nu.[85]

Public transport in Amsterdam mainly consists of (night)bus and tram lines operated by Gemeentelijk Vervoerbedrijf. Regional buses, and some suburban buses, are operated by Connexxion and Arriva. Currently, there are 16 different tramlines. There are currently four metro lines, with a fifth line, the North/South line, under construction. Three free ferries carry pedestrians and cyclists across the IJ to Amsterdam-Noord, and two fare-charging ferries run east and west along the harbour. There are also water taxis, a water bus, a boat sharing operation, electric rental boats (Boaty) and canal cruises, that transport people along Amsterdam's waterways.

The A10 ringroad surrounding the city connects Amsterdam with the Dutch national network of freeways. Interchanges on the A10 allow cars to enter the city by transferring to one of the eighteen 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. [[File:|left|thumb|A tram crossing a bridge over the river Amstel]] Amsterdam was intended in 1932 to be the hub, a kind of Kilometre Zero, of the highway system of the Netherlands,[86] with freeways numbered one through eight planned to originate from the city.[86] The outbreak of the Second World War and shifting priorities led to the current situation, where only roads A1, A2, and A4 originate from Amsterdam according to the original plan. The A3 road to Rotterdam 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.[87] Besides the A1, A2, A4 and A8, several freeways, such as the A7 and A6, carry traffic mainly bound for Amsterdam.

Amsterdam is served by ten stations of the Nederlandse Spoorwegen (Dutch Railways).[88] Five are intercity stops: Sloterdijk, Zuid, Amstel, Bijlmer ArenA and Amsterdam Centraal. The stations for local services are: Lelylaan, RAI, Holendrecht, Muiderpoort and Science Park. Amsterdam Centraal is also an international train station. From the station there are regular services to destinations such as Austria, Belarus, Belgium, the Czech Republic, Denmark, France, Germany, Hungary, Poland, Russia and Switzerland. Among these trains are international trains of the Nederlandse Spoorwegen and the Thalys(Amsterdam-Brussels-Paris-Cologne), CityNightLine, and InterCityExpress.[89]

Eurolines has coaches from Amsterdam Amstel railway station to destinations all over Europe.

Amsterdam Airport Schiphol is less than 20 minutes by train from Amsterdam Central Station. It is the biggest airport in the Netherlands, the fifth largest in Europe, and the twelfth largest in the world in terms of passengers. It handles about 46 million passengers per year and is the home base of three airlines, KLM, transavia.com and Martinair. Schiphol was, in 2006, the third busiest airport in the world measured by international passengers.[90][91]

Education

Amsterdam has two universities: the University of Amsterdam (Universiteit van Amsterdam), and the VU University Amsterdam (Vrije Universiteit or "VU" – often referred to, in English, as "The Free"). Other institutions for higher education include an art schoolGerrit Rietveld Academie, 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,[92] 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.[93]

Some of Amsterdam's 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.

Housing

The housing market is heavily distorted by regulation. In Amsterdam, 55% of existing housing and 80% of new housing is owned by Housing Associations, which are Government sponsored entities and as such offer social housing, e.g. housing where rents are not set by the market, but directly or indirectly by the State, typically with subsidy of some kind. There is no right-to-buy with these properties, which leads to a remarkably large proportion of Amsterdam's housing market being rental.[94]

At the same time, the national Government is acting to increase the percentage of owner-occupied dwellings, by removing income tax from the part of the mortgage payment which is interest. This figure has risen by 125% over the last 15 years, along with a concomitant increase in personal debt, as house buyers seek to obtain the largest possible mortgage to maximize income tax relief gains.

Due to the large proportion of the housing market being socialised, supply is unresponsive to demand, since prices largely are not set by the market (and so building is unprofitable) and also due to restrictive development laws. The uncontrolled segment of the housing market experiences shortage of supply, because so many properties belong to Housing Associations; as such, along with a large body of regulation which very strongly favours the tenant rather than the landlord (making letting risky) uncontrolled rent prices are very high and the number of properties available is low.[94]

A second consequence of the large number of subsidized rent Housing Association properties is the division of the renting population into 'haves' and 'have nots'; those able to gain entry into the subsidized rent market are favoured with unusually low rents. Those unable to do so are penalized with unusually high rents.

Lastly, Housing Associations have proved inefficient at developing new property, unable to meet even modest annual targets for new development, further increasing rental pressure.[94]

Squat properties are common throughout Amsterdam, due to property law strongly favouring tenants. A number of these squats have become well known, such as OT301, Vrankrijk (closed down by city government), and the Binnenpret, and several are now businesses, such as health clubs and licensed restaurants.

Culture and entertainment

[[File:|thumb|right|Rijksmuseum Amsterdam]] During the later part of the 16th century Amsterdam's Rederijkerskamer (Chamber of Rhetoric) organized contests between different Chambers in the reading of poetry and drama. In 1638, Amsterdam opened its first theatre. Ballet performances were given in this theatre as early as 1642. 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.[95] In the 19th century, popular culture was centred around the Nes area in Amsterdam (mainly vaudeville and music-hall).[citation needed] The metronome, one of the most important advances in European classical music, was invented here in 1812 by Dietrich Nikolaus Winkel. At the end of this century, the Rijksmuseum and Stedelijk Museum were built.[citation needed] In 1888, the Concertgebouworkest was established. With the 20th century came cinema, radio and television.[citation needed] Though most studios are located in Hilversum and Aalsmeer, Amsterdam's influence on programming is very strong. Many people who work in the television industry live in Amsterdam. Also, the headquarters of SBS 6 is located in Amsterdam.[96]

Museums

The most important museums of Amsterdam are located on het Museumplein (Museum Square), located at the southern side of the Rijksmuseum. 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 is a long, rectangular, pond. This is transformed into an ice rink in winter.[97] The western part of the square is bordered by the Van Gogh Museum, Stedelijk Museum, House of Bols Cocktail & Genever Experience and Coster Diamonds. The southern border of the Museum Square is the Van Baerlestraat, which is a major thoroughfare in this part of Amsterdam. The Concertgebouw is situated across this street from the square. To the east of the square are situated a number of large houses, one of which contains the American consulate. A parking garage can be found underneath the square, as well as a supermarket. Het Museumplein is covered almost entirely with a lawn, except for the northern part of the square which is covered with gravel. The current appearance of the square was realized in 1999, when the square was remodeled. 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.[98]

The Rijksmuseum possesses the largest and most important collection of classical Dutch art.[99] It opened in 1885. Its collection consists of nearly one million objects.[100] 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 Nightwatch is one of top pieces of art of the museum. It also houses paintings from artists like Van der Helst, Vermeer, Frans Hals, Ferdinand Bol, Albert Cuijp, Van Ruysdael and Paulus Potter. Aside from paintings, the collection consists of a large variety of decorative art. This ranges from Delftware to giant dollhouses from the 17th century. The architect of the gothic revival building was P.J.H. Cuypers. At present, the museum is being expanded, renovated, and a new main entrance for the museum created. Only one wing of the Rijksmuseum is currently open to the public, with a selection of master pieces on display. The full museum will re-open in 2012 or 2013.[101]

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 Aardappeleters (The Potato Eaters) and Zonnenbloemen, are present in the collection. The Van Gogh museum is the most visited museum in Amsterdam.[102][103][104]

Next to the Van Gogh museum stands the Stedelijk Museum. This is Amsterdam's largest museum concerning modern art. The museum opened its doors at around the same time the Museum Square was created. The permanent collection consists of works of art from artists like Piet Mondriaan, Karel Appel, and Kazimir Malevich. This museum is also currently being renovated and expanded. The main entrance will be relocated from the Paulus Potterstraat to the Museum Square itself. It will be open again to public in 2009.[105]

Amsterdam contains many other museums throughout the city. They range from small museums such as the Verzetsmuseum, the Anne Frank House, and the Rembrandthuis, to the very large, like the Tropenmuseum, Amsterdams Historisch Museum, and Joods Historisch Museum.

Performing arts

Pop, rock, and jazz

The Heineken Music Hall is a concert hall located near the Amsterdam ArenA. 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, R&B, and other popular genres. Other more subculturally focused music venues are OCCII, OT301, De Nieuwe Anita, Winston Kingdom and Zaal 100. Jazz has a strong following in Amsterdam, with the Bimhuis being the premier venue.

Electronic Dance Music

The Heineken Music Hall is also host to many Electronic Dance Music festivals, alongside many other venues. Amsterdam is home to Scantraxx, which is one of the largest record labels that produces Hardstyle music, which is very popular in the Netherlands. Armin van Buuren and Tiesto, some of the worlds leading Trance DJ's hail from The Netherlands and perform frequently 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. Another popular dance festival is 5daysoff, which takes place in the venues Paradiso and Melkweg. In summer time 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.

Classical music

[[File:|thumb|The Grote Zaal of the Concertgebouw]] 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. Eight hundred concerts per year are performed there for approximately 850,000 patrons.[106]

The opera house of Amsterdam is situated adjacent to the city hall. Therefore, the two buildings combined are often called the Stopera. This word is derived from the Dutch words stadhuis (city hall) and opera. This huge modern complex, opened in 1986, lies in the former Jewish neighbourhood at Waterlooplein next to the river Amstel. The Stopera is the homebase of De Nederlandse Opera, Het Nationale Ballet and the Holland Symfonia.

Muziekgebouw aan 't IJ is a concert hall, which is situated 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 music.

Theatre

The main theatre building of Amsterdam is the Stadsschouwburg Amsterdam at the Leidseplein. It is the home base of the 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 theater space, to be operated jointly with next door Melkweg, will open in late 2009 or early 2010. Other theatres are: Royal Theatre Carré, Bellevue theatres, the Stopera and de kleine comedie.

Comedy and cabaret

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).

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, De Vliegende Panters and Comedytrain. The English spoken comedy scene was established with the founding of Boom Chicago in 1993. They have their own theatre at Leidse Plein.

Nightlife

Amsterdam is famous for its vibrant and diverse nightlife. The two main nightlife areas are the Leidseplein and the Rembrandtplein.

Amsterdam has many cafes. They range from large and modern to small and cozy. The typical Bruine Kroeg (brown cafe) breathe a more old fashioned atmosphere with dimmed lights, candles, and somewhat older clientele. Most cafes 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 discothèques. Most of these 'clubs' are situated near the Leidseplein and Rembrandtplein. The Paradiso, Melkweg and Sugar Factory are cultural centres, which turn into discothèques on some nights. Examples of discothèques near the Rembrandtplein are the Escape and Club Home. Also noteworthy are Panama, Hotel Arena (East), The Sand and The Powerzone.

The Reguliersdwarsstraat is the main street for the GLBT community and nightlife.

Movie theaters

Hollywood films are primarily featured at cinemas owned by Pathe. Tuschinski is a heritage art deco building with a beautiful lobby and six screens. Theater One is an architectural treasure with comfortable seats, two balconies and recently restored ceilings. Pathe De Munt is modern and is located at De Munt. Pathe Arena is located a metro ride from the centre and includes an IMAX auditorium. Pathe City is scheduled to reopen in 2010. Art films can be found at Tuschinski, and the independent The Movies, Cinecenter, Kriterion, Ketelhuis, Uitkijk, and the Filmmuseum.

Festivals

[[File:|thumb|right|Koninginnedag 2009 in Amsterdam]] In 2008, there were 140 festivals and events in Amsterdam.[107] Famous festivals and events in Amsterdam include: Koninginnedag (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 Koninginnedag—held each year on April 30—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 Gay Pride event is a frequent source of both criticism and praise.[108] 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.[109]

Sports

File:Girod'
The 2010 Giro d'Italia started off in Amsterdam

Amsterdam is home of the Eredivisie football club Ajax Amsterdam. The stadium Amsterdam 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 it moved to its current location in 1996, Ajax played their regular matches in De Meer Stadion.[110] In 1928, Amsterdam hosted the 1928 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.[111] The city itself played host to the road cycling events for those games.[112] Eight years earlier, Amsterdam assisted in hosting some of the sailing events for the Summer Olympics held in neighboring Antwerp, Belgium by hosting events at Buiten Y.

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 (1,310 ft) lane of this ice rink.

Amsterdam holds two American Football franchises, the Amsterdam Crusaders, playing at Amsterdam Sloten, 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, near the Olympic Stadium.[113]

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.

Notes

  1. ^ "Kerncijfers voor Amsterdam en de stadsdelen". www.os.amsterdam.nl. Research and Statistics Service, City of Amsterdam. 2006-01-01. http://www.os.amsterdam.nl/tabel/4670/. Retrieved 2007-04-04. 
  2. ^ "Area, population density, dwelling density and average dwelling occupation". www.os.amsterdam.nl. Research and Statistics Service, City of Amsterdam. 2006-01-01. http://www.os.amsterdam.nl/tabel/10216/. Retrieved 2008-08-13. 
  3. ^ a b "Actueel Hoogtestand Nederland" (in Dutch). http://www.ahn.nl/. Retrieved 2008-05-18. 
  4. ^ a b c "Gemiddelde bevolking per regio naar leeftijd en geslacht" (in Dutch). Statistics Netherlands. http://statline.cbs.nl/StatWeb/table.asp?PA=70072eng&D1=0,3-5,35-39,48,55-58&D2=39,66,88,126,309&D3=(l-11)-l&DM=SLEN&LA=en&TT=2. Retrieved 2007-07-09. 
  5. ^ a b "Population" (in Dutch). Themes. City of Amsterdam. October 2008. http://www.os.amsterdam.nl/tabel/2008_mutatiestatistiek_stand.xls. Retrieved 2009-03-08. 
  6. ^ a b Encyclopædia Britannica Eleventh Edition, Vol 1, p896-898.
  7. ^ Cambridge.org, Capitals of Capital -A History of International Financial Centres – 1780–2005, Youssef Cassis, ISBN 978-0521845359
  8. ^ After Athens in 1888 and Florence in 1986, Amsterdam was in 1986 chosen as the European Capital of Culture, confirming its eminent position in Europe and the Netherlands. See EC.europa.eu for an overview of the European cities and capitals of culture over the years.
  9. ^ Forbes.com, Forbes Global 2000 Largest Companies – Dutch rankings.
  10. ^ "Best cities in the world (Mercer)". City Mayors. 2010-05-26. http://www.citymayors.com/features/quality_survey.html. Retrieved 2010-10-10. 
  11. ^ "2thinknow Innovation Cities Global 256 Index - worldwide innovation city rankings". Innovation-cities.com. 2009-07-30. http://www.innovation-cities.com/2thinknow-innovation-cities-global-256-index/. Retrieved 2010-10-10. 
  12. ^ a b "Key Figures Amsterdam 2009: Tourism". City of Amsterdam Department for Research and Statistics. 2009. http://www.os.amsterdam.nl/tabel/13871/. Retrieved 30 September 2009. 
  13. ^ a b Berns, Jan; Daan, Jo (1993) (in Dutch). Hij zeit wat: de Amsterdamse volkstaal. The Hague: BZZTôH. p. 91. ISBN 90-6291-756-9. 
  14. ^ "The toll privilege of 1275 in the Amsterdam City Archives". Stadsarchief.amsterdam.nl. http://stadsarchief.amsterdam.nl/english/amsterdam_treasures/trade/toll_privilege/index.en.html. Retrieved 2010-10-10. 
  15. ^ "Amsterdam 200 jaar ouder dan aangenomen" (in Dutch). Nu.nl. 22 October 2008. http://www.nu.nl/news/1801750/80/rss/%27Amsterdam_200_jaar_ouder_dan_aangenomen%27.html. Retrieved 2008-10-22. 
  16. ^ "De geschiedenis van Amsterdam" (in Dutch). Municipality of Amsterdam. http://amsterdam.nl/stad_in_beeld/geschiedenis/de_geschiedenis_van#Stadsrechten. Retrieved 2008-05-21. 
  17. ^ "Mirakel van Amsterdam" (in Dutch). http://www.trouw.nl/laatstenieuws/laatstenieuws/article936256.ece/Katholieken_verzameld_voor_Mirakel_van_Amsterdam. Retrieved 2008-05-21. 
  18. ^ "Eighty Years' War" (in Dutch). Leiden University. Archived from the original on May 12, 2008. http://web.archive.org/web/20080512110316/http://dutchrevolt.leidenuniv.nl/nederlands/default.htm. Retrieved 2008-05-21. 
  19. ^ Case in point: After his trial and sentencing in Rome in 1633, Galileo chose Lodewijk Elzevir in Amsterdam to publish one of his finest works, Two New Sciences. See Wade Rowland (2003), Galileo's Mistake, A new look at the epic confrontation between Galileo and the Church, New York: Arcade Publishing, ISBN 1559706848, p. 260.
  20. ^ E. Haverkamp-Bergmann, Rembrandt; The Night Watch (New Jersey: Princeton University Press, 1982), p. 57
  21. ^ Amsterdam in the 17th Century, The University of North Carolina at Pembroke
  22. ^ "The oldest share". http://www.oldest-share.com/. Retrieved 2008-05-22. 
  23. ^ Geography, climate, population, economy, society. J.P.Sommerville.
  24. ^ "Amsterdam through the ages -A medieval village becomes a global city". http://www.amsterdamcitywalks.com/english/agenda.html. Retrieved 2008-05-21. 
  25. ^ "Aardappeloproer" (in Dutch) (PDF). http://www.collectie.legermuseum.nl/sites/strategion/contents/i004516/arma39%20het%20aardappeloproer%20in%201917.pdf. Retrieved 2008-05-21. 
  26. ^ "Deportation to camps". Hollandsche Schouwburg. http://www.hollandscheschouwburg.nl/site_en/deportatie/kader.html. Retrieved 2008-05-21. 
  27. ^ "Kou en strijd in een barre winter" (in Dutch). NOS. http://www.nos.nl/nosjournaal/dossiers/60jaarbevrijding/60jaar_hongerwinter.html. Retrieved 2008-05-21. 
  28. ^ "Stadsdeel Slotervaart – Geschiedenis" (in Dutch). Municipality Amsterdam. http://www.slotervaart.amsterdam.nl/stadsdeel_in_beeld/geschiedenis. Retrieved 2008-05-22. 
  29. ^ a b "Stadsherstel Missie/Historie" (in Dutch). http://www.stadsherstelamsterdam.nl/. Retrieved 2008-05-22. 
  30. ^ "Typisch Metrostad" (in Dutch). Municipality Amsterdam. http://amsterdam.nl/?ActItmIdt=101459. Retrieved 2008-05-22. 
  31. ^ "Unesco World Heritage Site" (in Dutch). http://www.bma.amsterdam.nl/indexen/nieuws_bma?ActItmIdt=122633. Retrieved 2008-05-21. [dead link]
  32. ^ "Kerncijfers Amsterdam 2007" (in Dutch) (PDF). http://www.os.amsterdam.nl/pdf/2007_jaarboek_hoofdstuk_01.pdf. Retrieved 2008-05-18. 
  33. ^ "Openbare ruimte en groen: Inleiding" (in Dutch). http://www.os.amsterdam.nl/feitenencijfers/24112/. Retrieved 2008-05-18. 
  34. ^ "KNMI, Klimaatdata en - advies, Informatie over verleden weer" (in Dutch). Royal Netherlands Meteorological Institute. http://www.knmi.nl/klimatologie/normalen1971-2000/element_gegevens.html. Retrieved 2009-05-30. 
  35. ^ "Weather Information for Amsterdam". http://www.worldweather.org/037/c00143.htm. Retrieved 2008-01-06. 
  36. ^ "Amsterdamse Grachten" (in Dutch). Municipality Amsterdam. Archived from the original on March 20, 2008. http://web.archive.org/web/20080320060143/http://amsterdam.nl/stad_in_beeld/werkstukken/grachten. Retrieved 2008-05-21. 
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External links

Netherlands portal

 This article incorporates text from a publication now in the public domainChisholm, Hugh, ed (1911). Encyclopædia Britannica (Eleventh ed.). Cambridge University Press. 

frr:Amsterdam


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Travel guide

Up to date as of January 14, 2010
(Redirected to Amsterdam article)

From Wikitravel

Amsterdam at night
Amsterdam at night
Amsterdam is a huge city with several district articles containing sightseeing, restaurant, nightlife and accommodation listings — consider printing them all.

Amsterdam [1] is the capital of the Netherlands with impressive architecture, lovely canals that criss cross the city, great shopping, and friendly people who nearly all speak English well. There is something for every traveller's taste here, whether you prefer culture and history, serious partying, or just the relaxing charm of an old European city. Amsterdam has over a million inhabitants in the urban area, and is in the Province of North-Holland. Amsterdam is not the seat of government (which is in The Hague), but it is the biggest city and the cultural and creative centre of the Netherlands.

Districts of Amsterdam
Districts of Amsterdam
Old Center
This most visited area can be divided in the New Side, with it's traditional architecture, canal tours, Dam Square and shopping, as well as the Old Side with Nieuwmarkt, Chinatown and Red Light District. Also includes the Old Jewish Quarter with Waterloo Square.
Grachtengordel
Probably the wealthiest neighborhood with plenty of Dutch celebrities living here. Also includes Rembrandt Square and Leiden Square, the city's main nightlife areas.
Jordaan
Traditionally a working class area, now it's an expensive and hip district with plenty of art galleries, boutiques and restaurants. Also includes the Haarlemmer Neighborhood at the north side.
Plantage
Supposed to be an extension of the Grachtengordel, lack of demand made this into a leafy area with lots of greenery, botanical gardens and Artis Zoo.
South
A trip to Amsterdam is not complete without a visit to the Museum Quarter. This district also covers the Vondelpark, De Pijp (with it's street market) and the South Axis, a rapidly developing business district similar to La Defense in Paris.
West
A vast suburban area which can be divided in Old West, built in the 19th century, and New West, a multicultural off-the-beaten track area built after World War II. Also includes the Western Islands.
North
Directly north of the center lies North, a newly-built suburb. Also includes the area east of that, the Rural North, a protected polder area similar to the Waterland and Zaan Region.
East
Starting from the Oosterpark, this area includes all of the Eastern Islands, Eastern Docklands, Zeeburg and the rest of the Eastern suburbs.
Bijlmer
An exclave of Amsterdam, separated from the rest of the city by Diemen and Duivendrecht, the Bijlmer was forseen as a town of the future for upper-middle class families. It turned into a lower-class residential district home to people of over 150 nationalities, often associated with crime and robberies. It has improved remarkably the last years, but it still is an area only for adventurous travelers (and football fans).

Understand

Orientation

The "Amsterdam" that most people know is the city centre, the semi-circle with Central Station at its apex. It corresponds to the city as it was around 1850. Five major concentric canals ring the Old Center; the Singel, the Herengracht, the Keizersgracht, the Prinsengracht, and the Singelgracht, together forming the Grachtengordel. Other districts inside the city center are the Jordaan, a working-class area gone upmarket, and Plantage, a leafy and spacious area known for its zoo and botanical gardens. The roads Nassaukade, Stadhouderskade, and Mauritskade surround the center and mark the location of the former city moat and fortifications. Almost everything outside this line was built after 1870. Without a doubt the most popular district outside of the city centre is South for it's quality museums and street markets.

The semi-circle is on the south side of the IJ, often called a river but more exactly is an estuary. Going east from Central Station, the railway passes the artificial islands of the redeveloped Eastern Docklands. North of the IJ is mainly housing, although a major dockland redevelopment has started there too.

The river Amstel flows into the city from the south. Originally, it flowed along the line Rokin-Damrak. The dam in the Amstel, which gives the city its name, was located under the present Bijenkorf department store. The original settlement was on the right bank of the Amstel, on the present Warmoesstraat: it is therefore the oldest street in the city. The city has expanded in all directions, except to the north of the ring motorway. The region there, Waterland, is a protected rural landscape of open fields and small villages.

The radius of the semicircle is about 2 km. All major tourist destinations, and most hotels, are located inside it or just outside it. As a result, much of Amsterdam is never visited by tourists: at least 90% of the population lives outside this area. Most economic activity in Amsterdam -- the offices of the service sector, and the port -- is on or outside the ring motorway, which is four to five kilometers from the centre.

Attitudes

Many people choose to visit Amsterdam because of its reputation for tolerance, although part of this reputation is attributable to cultural misunderstandings. Prostitution is legalized and licensed in the Netherlands, and in Amsterdam it is very visible (window prostitution), and there are large numbers of prostitutes. The sale, possession, and consumption of small quantities of cannabis, while illegal, is condoned by authorities (the policy of gedogen). This does not mean that you can get away with anything in Amsterdam. In any case, public attitudes and official policy have hardened in recent years. For more on coffee shops and drugs, see below in Stay safe.

Depending on your viewpoint some people will consider Amsterdam an unwholesome city whereas other people will find their relaxed attitudes refreshing. If you avoid the red light district, Amsterdam is an excellent family destination.

Nearly everyone in Amsterdam, young or old, seems to speak excellent English.

Climate

Amsterdam is a large city and a major tourist destination, so you can visit it all year round. However, in winter the days are short (8 hours daylight around Christmas), and the weather may be too cold to walk around the city comfortably, let alone cycle. July and August are the warmest months, with an average temperature of 72°F (22°C). Some things are seasonal: the tulip fields flower only in the spring, and Queen's Day (Koninginnedag) is always on 30 April, unless it falls on a Sunday. Queen Beatrix was actually born on 31 January, but since January is very cold, the celebrations are held on the day she became the queen of the Netherlands, which is also the birthday of her mother, Juliana.

Get in

By plane

Amsterdam Airport Schiphol (IATA: AMS) (ICAO: EHAM) [2] is one of the busiest airports in the world, situated 15 km south-west of the city. Jet2.com [3], Easyjet [4], WizzAir [5] and other low-cost carriers serve Schiphol, providing a fairly economical way to city-hop to Amsterdam from other spots in Europe. As Amsterdam is a very popular destination, the cheapest tickets may be gone, and in that case a traditional carrier might be cheaper. So it pays to check a number of airlines before booking, to get the best deal. The national carrier for the Netherlands is KLM [6], now merged with Air France. With partner Northwest Airlines [7] they offer worldwide connections. The US, Asia and Europe are particularly well served at Schiphol.

For very frequent visitors to Amsterdam (6 or more times a year) it may pay to invest in a Privium [8] card. This is available to EU passport holders only, but allows you to cut the queues at passport control. Instead of showing your passport you go to a special lane with an iris scanner, this will save a significant amount of time if the passport lines are long. Cost is currently €119 + €65 for a partner.

When leaving Amsterdam, give yourself enough time to get to your plane and through security (especially when flying to the United States)! Schiphol is a large airport - be there at least an hour in advance. If you have time to kill, drop into the Rijksmuseum's Schiphol branch, between E and F Pier (non-Schengen area airside), which is free and open 7 AM-11 PM daily.

Schiphol by train

From Schiphol there is a direct train[9] to Amsterdam Central Station, for €3.80 (or €7.00 for same-day return), in 20 minutes. Buy the ticket from the machine (yellow with blue writing); if you purchase your ticket at the counter you will pay €0.50 extra. Not all machines accept credit or debit cards. The train station at Schiphol is located underground, under the main airport hall; trains to Amsterdam Central Station usually run from platform 3.

A new national ticketing system is in the process of being introduced, based on a contactless chipcard, which is currently valid in Amsterdam's public transport system and nationwide in the train. A train journey from Schiphol to Amsterdam is slightly cheaper using this card, €3.50, but it might not be interesting for tourists unless you already own one: a card costs €7.50, and you have to have at least €20 on it to be able to travel by train. The old system will be used in conjunction for the foreseeable future. See the section in the Netherlands article.

There are 4 to 5 trains per hour between Schiphol and Amsterdam in peak times. Trains run all night, although between 01:00 and 05:00 only once an hour. The price and duration of the journey are the same as during the day.

Watch out for pick-pockets and baggage thieves: a common trick is a knock on your window to distract you, so that an accomplice can steal your luggage or laptop. Another one is to have an accomplice jam the doors and then to steal your luggage. The thief jumps out and the door immediately closes, making it impossible to catch them. However, in recent years, railway police have made a great effort to reduce this sort of crime; nowadays it is at 'normal', big-city like levels.

Schiphol by local transport

If you are desperately trying to save money or are staying near Leidseplein, you could use local transport from Schiphol to central Amsterdam, provided that you use a strippenkaart (see below). A trip takes about thirty minutes and leads directly to the south-west of the centre of Amsterdam (namely Museumplein and Leidseplein). The price depends on which bus you take: on local bus 197 the trip would cost you 6 strippen, that's €2.92 on a 15 strippenkaart, or €4.80 on board; on "interliner" bus 370 (an express bus, although in this case the local bus is equally fast) you pay €3.60.

Bus 197 currently runs every 15 minutes for most of the day, from 0501 to 2400 daily; bus 370 runs every hour during the day and every 30 minutes during peak hours. From midnight to five a.m., night bus lines go to and from the airport: if you don't want to change buses, take either night bus N97 or N72 (both €3.50). These buses run once an hour, within about 15 minutes of each other unfortunately.

Schiphol by taxi

Taxis from Schiphol are expensive and priced unexpectedly. You pay around €7.50 (as of Oct 08) as a minimum charge and that includes the first two kilometers. Then the meter starts racing. The ride costs about €40-50 to go to, say, the Leidseplein. Depending on the time of day and traffic levels, it could take only 25 minutes. If you're unlucky, it could take twice as long. Choose the nicest cab as that driver is more likely to be reputable. You don't have to pick the first taxi in line.

Schiphol, other modes of transport

The Connexxion Hotel Shuttle [10] serves over 100 city center hotels, with 8-seater shared van departures about every 30 minutes between 6 AM and 9 PM, cost to most city center destinations €14.50/22.50 one-way/return -- more convenient than the train if you have heavy luggage and still cheaper than a taxi. Buses depart from platform A7 and can be reserved for the trip back from +31-38-3394741.

If you plan to rent a car for the duration of your stay, Schiphol has several car rental companies on site [11]. Typical opening hours are 06:30 to 23:00 daily (some are open longer, 06:00-23:30). The car rental desk can be found in Schiphol Plaza, on the same level as the arrival halls. The A4 motorway leads straight from Schiphol to the Amsterdam ring road A10, in about 10 minutes.

If you decided to bring your bicycle on the plane with you, there is a 15-kilometer sign-posted bike route from the airport to Amsterdam. Turn right as you leave the airport terminal: the cycle path starts about 200 metres down the road. There is a map of the cycle paths around Schiphol available on this PDF (green lines are cycle paths).

Other airports

Using airports other than Schiphol could prove cheaper in some cases, as some budget airlines fly to Eindhoven and Rotterdam Airports. Then buses and trains can be used to get to Amsterdam. Renting a car is also an option. A taxi is not advisable, from Rotterdam to Amsterdam a taxi would cost €130, and from Eindhoven even more.

From Eindhoven Airport (IATA: EIN, ICAO: EHEH) [12] take a local bus (Hermes bus 401, duration about 25 minutes, frequency about four times per hour, €3.20 on board or €1.95 using a 15 strippenkaart) to the train station, from there take a train to Amsterdam (duration 1:20 hour, frequency four times per hour, single €17.50). Alternatively, take the express bus directly from the airport to Amsterdam central station, which takes 2:15 hours. This service only goes 3 to 4 times per day; see their website for a schedule. The ticket price is €22 for a single or €38 for a return [13].

From Rotterdam Airport (IATA: RTM, ICAO: EHRD) [14] ("Zestienhoven") take a city bus (RET "airport shuttle" bus 33, duration 20 minutes, frequency every 10-20 minutes, €2.40 on board or €1.46 using a 15 strippenkaart) to Rotterdam Centraal train station, from there take a train to Amsterdam (duration about an hour, frequency every 10-20 minutes, single €13.30).

Schiphol airport is 11km from the centre of Amsterdam in a straight line, Rotterdam is 57km and Eindhoven is 107km. Other airports that could possibly be used are:

  • Groningen Airport Eelde (142km) (IATA: GRQ, ICAO: EHGG) [15]
  • Maastricht Aachen Airport (173km) (IATA: MST, ICAO: EHBK) [16]
  • Weeze Airport in Germany (121km) (IATA: NRN, ICAO: EDLV) [17]
  • Antwerp International Airport in Belgium (135km) (IATA: ANR, ICAO: EBAW) [18]
  • Brussels Airport in Belgium (167km) (IATA: BRU, ICAO: EBBR) [19]
Sign for Platform 2b at Amsterdam Railway Station
Sign for Platform 2b at Amsterdam Railway Station
Train stations in Amsterdam (in orange; centre in bright orange). Black lines: railways. Red lines: metro lines.
Train stations in Amsterdam (in orange; centre in bright orange). Black lines: railways. Red lines: metro lines.

Most trains arrive and depart from Amsterdam Centraal Station (with one extra 'a' in Dutch), located between the old centre and the IJ waterfront. Other train stations are Duivendrecht, Bijlmer-ArenA, Amstel, Muiderpoort (all southeast), RAI, Zuid-WTC (both south), Lelylaan and Sloterdijk (both west). Schiphol airport also has its own train station, which functions as a major hub within the Netherlands. It has at least seven trains an hour to Amsterdam Central, with additional trains going to other Amsterdam stations.

Direct international trains run to Brussels (which is two and a half to three hours away and connects with Eurostar trains to London St Pancras and Ebbsfleet (Kent) in England), Paris, Cologne, Frankfurt, Berlin, Copenhagen, Milan, Zurich, Vienna, Prague and Moscow. See NS Hispeed [20] for an international journey planner for trains into/out of the Netherlands.

By bus

Most international bus services are affiliated to Eurolines, which has a terminal at Amstel Station (train station, metro station 51, 53, 54, tram 12). One bus per day is usually the maximum frequency on these routes. There are other international bus services, but they are often aimed at very specific markets, e.g. Polish migrant workers. There are almost no long-distance internal bus services in the Netherlands, and none to Amsterdam.

By car

The western part of the Netherlands has a dense (and congested) road network. Coming from the east (Germany), the A1 motorway leads directly to Amsterdam. On the A12 from Arnhem, change at Utrecht to the A2 northbound. From the south (Belgium), the A2 goes directly to Amsterdam: the A16 /A27 from Antwerp via Breda connects to the A2 south of Utrecht. From The Hague, the A4 leads to Amsterdam. All motorways to Amsterdam connect to the ring motorway, the A10. From this motorway, main roads lead radially into Amsterdam (the roads S101 through S118).

In most cases, you should want to avoid going to the city centre by car: traffic is dense and parking spaces are expensive and nearly impossible to find. Instead, when on the A10, follow the signs to one of the P+R-spots (P+R Zeeburg to the east, P+R ArenA and P+R Olympisch Stadion to the south, P+R Sloterdijk to the west). Here, you can park your car, and take public transport to the city centre, for a single fare. There are also a few places a short walk from outer tram stops to park for free.

The speed limit on Dutch motorways is 120 km/h, except where indicated. On the A10 ring motorway around Amsterdam, the maximum speed is 100 km/h, and 80 km/h on the Western section. These limits are strictly enforced and there are many speed cameras.

By sea

The maritime Passenger Terminal Amsterdam is close to the city centre, but is only for cruise ships. The nearest ferry port is IJmuiden (ferry from Newcastle upon Tyne) with DFDS Seaways, who offer a daily overnight ferry services from Newcastle-upon-Tyne (North Shields) in the United Kingdom see [21] (official site). 125km away by car there is a ferry terminal at Rotterdam Europoort (ferry from Kingston Upon Hull), and Hook of Holland (ferry from Harwich). it's about 80 km by the road to Amsterdam by the most direct route. Hook of Holland has an train station. Take the train to Schiedam or Rotterdam CS and from there a train to Amsterdam.

Get around

On foot and bike

Amsterdam's centre is fairly small, and almost abnormally flat, so you can easily get to most tourist destinations on foot - from the train station, within a half an hour.

A pleasant way to cover a lot of ground is to rent a bicycle. There are approximately three-quarters of a million people living in Amsterdam and they own about 600,000 bicycles. The city is very, very bike-friendly, and there are separate bike lanes on most major streets. In the city centre, however, there is often not enough space for a bike lane, so cars and cyclists share narrow streets. Cyclists have the right of way. If you are not used to that, be very careful, and also watch out for other cyclists. Avoid getting your tire in the tram rails; it's a nasty fall. Always cross tram rails at an angle. There are bike rental shops at stations, and several others in and around the city centre. Bikes cost about € 9 to € 20 per day.

A good map for cycling (routes, repairs, rentals + also public transport) is Amsterdam op de fiets (a Cito-plan). When preparing a route, there's a digital bicycle route-planner for Amsterdam, see Routecraft.com [22]

Make sure to get a good lock, and to use it. Amsterdam has one of the highest bicycle theft rates in the world, see the Netherlands page. Note also that if buying a bike, prices that seem too good to be true are stolen bikes. Any bike offered for sale to passers-by, on the street, is certainly stolen. There's an old Amsterdam joke; if to a large group of bicycles going by, you yell out, "Hey, that's my bike!" about five people will jump off "their" bikes and start running.

  • MacBike Bicycle Rental [23]. Perhaps the most ubiquitous bicycle rental agency in Amsterdam, their bicycles are painted red with a MacBike sign on the front, everyone will know you're visiting. The bicycles are reliable, and in very good condition. Several locations around the city centre for assistance or repairs. Online bicycle reservations at their website.
  • Orangebike, Rentals & Tours [24]. Their bikes are not so obvious coloured, more discrete, reliable and sturdy. Even the typical Dutch Grandmother bikes are available at Orangebike. Every day you could go on the 3 hour historical city tour and discover the hidden treasures by bike for €19.50 only. Online reservations on their website.
  • Frederic Bike, insurance, bags, locks, and children seats all included for €10 a day. Extremely close to central station. Bikes are offered "incognito", for the discerning guest who does not want to appear "touristy".
  • Damstraat Offer daily to weekly rentals. Have promotions in place with several hotels for "discount tickets", ask at the front desk. €12.50 for the first 24 hours, insurance included. Offers repairs for your bike and new and used bike sales.
  • Het Zwarte Fietsenplan [25]. Het Zwarte Fietsenplan rents traditional Dutch bikes. Tourists that rent bikes here will be able to explore Amsterdam as a local; not as a tourist. On a traditional black bike. The same on which the rest of Amsterdam is riding. There are no bright red, yellow, blue or orange bikes in their shops. There are 3 locations throughout the city centre and the shops have long opening hours, 7 days a week. Also rents out cagobikes for kids.

The bicycle is ideal for exploring the surrounding countryside. Within half an hour you're out of town. Go North, take the ferry across the IJ to Waterland. Or go South, into the Amsterdamse Bos (a giant park), or follow the river Amstel where Rembrandt worked. You can also take your bike on the metro (with a reduced fare ticket, see public transport gvb.nl [26]) to end of line Gaasperplas, and cycle along rivers and windmills to old fortified towns like Weesp , Muiden and Naarden.

Public transport

Public transport within the city is operated by the GVB (Gemeentevervoerbedrijf [27]). The tram (18 lines) is the main form of public transport system in the central area, and there are also dozens of bus routes. Regional buses, and some suburban buses, are operated by Connexxion [28] and Arriva [29]. All tram stops have a detailed map of the system and the surrounding area.

There is a four line metro, including a short underground section in the city centre, that serves the neighbourhoods of the South East. It takes 15-20 minutes from Centraal Station or Waterlooplein to the Bijlmer (Amsterdam Arena stadium, Heineken Music Hall and Pathe Arena cinema and IMAX).

Tickets can be bought on bus or tram, but it will often be cheaper to buy a strippenkaart before boarding (note however: the strippenkaart cannot be used on the metro, see below). They are available from machines in the metro and railway stations, from the GVB office opposite Centraal Station, and from supermarkets, newsagents and tobacconists. In Centraal Station, purchase them at the red GVB machine (bills and coins) or at one of the Albert Heijn To Go mini marts. Purchase multi-day passes at the Amsterdam Tourist office (ACTB), located just outside Centraal Station, or GWK Money Exchange. At the tourist office, you will have to take a number and wait to be called, which can take half an hour.

A strippenkaart is also valid for use on NS trains within Amsterdam, validate them on the platform. They are not valid for train trips to Schiphol airport. You can use them on buses to Schiphol but it's usually quicker to get there by train.

The strippenkaart can also be used nationwide in most other cities' respective local transportation systems.

The strippenkaart ticket consists of a number of strips, which must be stamped in a yellow machine prior to entering the metro, or by the driver or conductor when boarding a tram or bus. Travel for one hour through a single zone costs two strips; two zones cost three strips, and so forth regardless of the number of transfers used during that time. Sometimes 1/4, 1/2 and 3/4 is used meaning if you read 9 1/2, it means you boarded at 9.30. It is possible that the machine, driver or conductor may round-up the time stamped, giving you slightly more than an hour to travel (e.g. it is 9.20 but you the strippenkaart may be stamped as 9.30 allowing you to travel until 10.30 before having the strippenkaart stamped again). Typically tourists will only be travelling through the central zone of Amsterdam, unless they plan on visiting outer areas. Multiple people can share one strippenkaart but must be validated respective to the number of travellers (e.g. for two people travelling in one zone, the strip can be validated on the second and fourth strip from the last validation stamp). A strippenkaart of 15 strips costs €7.30.

Alternatively, you can get a 1, 2, 3 or 4 day pass. Although convenient, it is usually cheaper to use strippenkaarten, especially for people who stay in the city centre. (€7/1 day, €11.50/2 days, €14.50/3 days, €17.50/4 days, as of Jul 08).

Don't forget to stamp it before your first journey. If you stay longer in Amsterdam, you can buy discounted weekly or monthly tickets from most post offices or other ticket sale points which are really cheaper.

A new national ticketing system is being introduced, based on a contactless card, called OV-chipkaart ("Public Transport chip card"). The system is operational on the Amsterdam metro, trams and buses run by GVB, at first in parallel with the old system. The old system cannot be used anymore in the metro, and the withdrawal of the old system in trams and buses is planned for 2009/2010. Three types of OV-chipkaart are available: a personal card on which you can load weekly/monthly/yearly subscriptions; an anonymous card on which you can load money which can be spend on public transport; and a disposable card which can be used for one or two trips only. The first two types carry a fee of €7.50 for the card itself, and you have to have at least €4 on it to be able to travel. Note that the old system works with travel zones, whereas the new card system uses a fixed price per kilometer, so in some instances one system can be cheaper or more expensive than the other. The OV-chipkaart can be obtained from GVB vending machines in all metro stations, from the desks at some bigger stations (including Centraal Station) and some shops (see this map). To travel with a card, one has to check in at the start of the journey and check out at the end.

Most trams these days have conductors, near the rear of the tram. Board by the driver or the conductor. If you have questions, the conductor will be sure to respond to your query.

Enter buses only via the front door.

For current information on the Dutch Public Transportation-system ('Openbaar Vervoer' or O.V. in Dutch/NL) check online Openbaar Vervoer (O.V.).

There are several free ferry services across the IJ river, to Amsterdam North, the most frequent runs every seven minutes. They all leave from a new jetty on the northern (rear) side of Centraal Station.

The nicest one is the fifteen minute service to NDSM Werf, a funky, up and coming, industrial neighbourhood with a nice cafe-bar (IJkantine) restaurant (Noorderlicht), indoor skateboard park, and the Pancake Boat (Pannekoekenboot) which sails many times each week. Ferries leave every 30 minutes from Centraal Station and from NDSM Werf. Double frequencies during rush hours.

Trains

For journeys outside the city, the train is usually the best option. Besides some exceptions, all trains in the Netherlands are operated by the Nederlandse Spoorwegen [30] (NS, "Dutch Railways"). Their website has English-language information.

Ticket machines are the standard way to buy a ticket, it costs 50 cents extra to buy a ticket at ticket counters, and at Central Station, there are often long lines at these counters. Older machines are not in English and as such can be difficult to interpret. New machines come with a language selection, and support English, Dutch, French and German but usually only accept credit and debit cards (note that many foreign credit and debit cards do not work in most NS ticket machines). In Central Station, there is a machine that accepts cash and is in the hallway in front of the ticket office.

You face a fine of €35, due immediately, if you are caught on the train without a ticket. The chance of getting caught without a ticket is almost certain on main routes during the day, but there is always a random element.

For discount tickets and rail passes see the Netherlands page.

By car

Using a car in central Amsterdam is something of a pain. Many of the streets are narrow, the traffic (and parking) signs are baroque and obscure, and cyclists and pedestrians may get in your way. Plus, gas is about €8 (11 dollars) per gallon. You can try parking at one of the secured parking garages, for example under Museumplein, or near the Central Station, and then walk around the city centre, or use a tram. Car parking is very expensive in Amsterdam and it's often hard to find a place to park. You can choose to pay by the hour or for the whole day. Parking is free outside the centre on Sunday. There is always a spot available on the Albert Cuypstraat (which is a market during the rest of the week). From there, it is a 5 minute tram ride or 15 minute walk downtown.

Another option is to park your car further outside the city-centre. For € 5,50 you get a full day of parking and a return ticket downtown. The ride takes about 15 minutes. Look for the P+R (Park and Ride) signs. [31]

You can also park for free in some parts of Amsterdam outside the city centre though this may be slowly changing. Parking is still free everywhere in Amsterdam-Noord, and you can just take the bus from the Mosplein stop to the city centre easily. Plenty of buses run through here.

Popular car rental chains operate in a smaller capacity in Amsterdam, including Avis and Budget Rent a Car, a week long rental from more popular chains can run anywhere from $275 US for a micro car to $1000 US for a luxury sedan.

Taxis

Taxis in Amsterdam are plentiful but expensive. Hailing taxis on the street is usually a positive experience, although it is not unheard of for passengers to be cheated by shady drivers.

Some drivers, traditionally at Centraal Station, will refuse short trips, or else they'll quote outrageously high fares, even though all taxis are metered. For reference, no trip within the historic centre should cost more than €10 or so.

The Netherlands (and Amsterdam) is in the middle of a huge taxi liberalization scheme which has been jarring to all involved. After many missteps, the government has introduced an unusual pricing scheme. First you feel sticker shock as the initial fare is now €7,50 (as of Feb 08). Luckily, that includes the first two kilometres of travel and there is no charge for waiting in traffic. If you need to run in somewhere, you need to negotiate a waiting fee with the driver. 50 cents per minute is customary.

Unlicensed, illegal, cabbies operate mainly in Amsterdam Zuidoost. These aren't easily recognized as such, and most certainly don't drive Mercedes cars. They are known as snorders and most easily reached by mobile phone. Rides within Amsterdam Zuidoost (the Bijlmer) range from €2.50 to €5, whereas Zuidoost-Center can run up to €12.50. Snorders have a shady reputation, so consider their services only if you are adventurous.

Tuk-Tuks

A Thai-influenced transportation service using three-wheeled, open-air (but covered) motorized vehicles was introduced in August 2007 and may be a more economical and fast way to get around the city centre compared to taxis. Tuk-tuk pricing is based on a zone system. Within a zone, a ride is €3.50 per person, €5.00 for 2 persons and €6.50 for 3. If you go to another zone, €3.50 is added (irrespective of number of persons). This service is handy if it is past the regular tram/bus/metro service hours (approximately half past midnight). They take reservations 24 hours a day on 0900 99 333 99 and there is a fee of €0.55 per call.

Idyllic canals and houses with hoists
Idyllic canals and houses with hoists

Amsterdam has one of the largest historic city centers in Europe, with about 7,000 registered historic buildings. The street pattern has been largely unchanged since the 19th century - there was no major bombing during World War II. The center consists of 90 islands linked by 400 bridges, some of them beautifully lit at night. One of the most prominent features is the Grachtengordel, a concentric canal ring begun in the 17th century. The inner part of the city center, the Old Center, dates from medieval times. The oldest parts are the Warmoesstraat and the Zeedijk located in the Nieuwmarkt area of the Old Center. Two medieval wooden houses survived, at Begijnhof 34 and Zeedijk 1. Other old houses are Warmoesstraat 83 (built around 1400), Warmoesstraat 5 (around 1500) and Begijnhof 2-3 (around 1425). The city office for architectural heritage BMA [32] has an excellent online introduction to the architectural history and the types of historical buildings available. The website includes a cycle route along important examples.

The Begijnhof is a late-medieval enclosed courtyard with the houses of beguines, women living in a semi-religious community. Beguinages are found in northern France, Belgium, the Netherlands, and north-western Germany. House number 34 at the Begijnhof is the oldest home in Amsterdam. Entry to the courtyard and surrounding gardens is free, but be careful not to disturb the local community still living here.

There are several large warehouses for more specific uses. The biggest is the Admirality Arsenal (1656-1657), now the Maritime Museum (Scheepvaartmuseum) at Kattenburgerplein. Others include the former turf warehouses (1550) along the Nes, now the municipal pawn office; a similar warehouse at Waterlooplein 69-75 (Arsenaal, 1610), now an architectural academy, and the warehouse of the West India Company (1642) at the corner of Prins Hendrikkade and s-Gravenhekje. The 19th-century warehouses, along the Oostelijke Handelskade, are surrounded by new office buildings.

The trading city of Amsterdam was ruled by a merchant-based oligarchy, who built canal houses and mansions in the most prestigious locations, especially along the main canals. The BMA website has a chronological list of the most important:

  • Singel 140-142, De Dolphijn (circa 1600).
  • Oudezijds Voorburgwal 14, Wapen van Riga (1605).
  • Oudezijds Voorburgwal 57, De Gecroonde Raep (1615), in Baroque Amsterdam Renaissance style.
  • Herengracht 170-172, Bartolotti House (circa 1617).
  • Keizersgracht 123, House with the Heads (1622).
  • Herengracht 168 (1638).
  • Rokin 145 (1643).
  • Kloveniersburgwal 29, Trip House (1662).
  • Oudezijds Voorburgwal 187 (1663).
  • Singel 104-106 (1743).
  • Singel 36, Zeevrugt (1763).

The Jordaan was built around 1650 along with the canal ring, but not for the wealthy merchants. For a long time it was considered the typical working-class area of Amsterdam, and included some notorious slums. It was probably the first example of "gentrification" in the Netherlands (although of course it predates the term). The name probably derives from the nickname 'Jordan' for the Prinsengracht. Apart from a few wider canals, the streets are narrow, in an incomplete grid pattern.

  • Magere Brug A traditional Dutch style draw bridge, over 300 years old and nearly in it's original capacity. The Magere Brug is a beautiful place to overlook the river and take in some traditional Dutch architecture.

19th-century architecture is under-represented in Amsterdam. Immediately outside the Singelgracht (former city moat) is a ring of 19th-century housing. The most prominent buildings from this period are Centraal Station (1889) and the Rijksmuseum (1885), both by P. J. H. Cuypers.

  • Oude Kerk (1306) [33] Located on the Oudezijds Voorburgwal, in the red-light district. The oldest of the five main churches in the historic centre. You can climb the tower from April to September on Saturday & Sunday, every half-hour. Also open in the winter by group appointment (maximum 10 people) cost €70 per hour. Email anna@buscher-malocca.nl for more information.
  • Nieuwe Kerk (15th century) [34] Located on Dam Square. Used for royal coronations, most recently the crowning of Queen Beatrix in 1980, and royal weddings, most recently the wedding of crown prince Willem-Alexander to princess Máxima in 2002. Today, the church is no longer used for services but is now a popular exhibition space.
  • Zuiderkerk (built 1603-1611) [35] Located on Zuiderkerkhof ("Southern Graveyard") square. Now an information centre on housing and planning. You can visit the tower from April to September Monday to Saturday (with guide only) every half-hour, cost €6. Also open in the winter by group appointment (maximum 15 people) cost €70 per hour. Email anna@buscher-malocca.nl for more information.
  • Noorderkerk (built 1620-1623) [36] Located on Noordermarkt on the Prinsengracht.
  • Westerkerk (built 1620-1631) [37] Located on Westermarkt near the Anne Frank House. The church is open (free) for visitors from Monday to Friday, 11:00-15:00, from April to September. You can also climb the tower (with guide only) every half-hour, Mon to Saturday €6. The tower is also open in the winter by group appointment (maximum 10 people) cost €70 per hour. Email anna@buscher-malocca.nl for more information. In good weather you can see all of Amsterdam, and as far as the coast.

The late-medieval city also had smaller chapels such as the Sint Olofskapel (circa 1440) on Zeedijk, and convent chapels such as the Agnietenkapel on the Oudezijds Voorburgwal 231 (originally 1470), now the University of Amsterdam museum. Later churches included the Oosterkerk (1669) in the eastern islands, and the heavily restored Lutheran Church on the Singel (1671), now used by a hotel as a conference centre. Catholic churches were long forbidden, and only built again in the 19th-century: the most prominent is the Neo-Baroque Church of St. Nicholas (1887) opposite Central Station.

The most prominent synagogue is The Esnoga (or The Portuguese Synagogue) [38] (1675) located at Mr. Visserplein 3, in an austere Classicist style.

Also, investigate some of the "hidden churches" found in Amsterdam, mainly Catholic churches that remained in activity following the Reformation. A prominent hidden church is Amstelkring Museum (Our Lord in the Attic Chapel)[39] Well worth the visit.

Modern architecture

Since there was little large-scale demolition in the historic centre, most 20th-century and recent architecture is outside it. The most prominent in architectural history are the residential complexes by architects of the Amsterdam School, for instance at Zaanstraat / Oostzaanstraat.

  • Museum of the Amsterdam School [40]. The best-known example of their architecture. Open Tuesday to Sunday 11AM to 5PM, entrance ac; 7,50, includes 20 min. guided tour.
  • Eastern Docklands. The largest concentration of new residential buildings. The zone includes three artificial islands: Borneo, Sporenburg, and Java/KNSM, together with the quayside along Piet Heinkade, and some adjoining projects. Accessible by tram 10, tram 26 to Rietlandpark, or best of all by bicycle.
  • The largest concentration of box-like office buildings is in Amsterdam Zuid-Oost (South-East) around Bijlmer station (train and metro), but the area does have some spectacular buildings, such as the Amsterdam ArenA stadium and the new Bijlmer ArenA station.
  • Amsterdam is replacing older sewage plants by a single modern plant, in the port zone. Connecting existing sewers to the new plant requires long main sewers, and the use of sewage booster pumps - a new technique at this scale. The new booster pump stations are a unique type of building, designed by separate architects. The three complete pumps are located at Klaprozenweg in the north, on Spaklerweg (just east of the A10 motorway), and beside and under Postjesweg, in the Rembrandtpark.

Windmills

Windmills were not built in urban areas, since the buildings obstructed the wind. The Amsterdam windmills were all originally outside its city walls, that's why most windmills are in Amsterdam West and Amsterdam South. If you don't want to travel too far, the closest one to the city center is De Gooyer in Plantage, which together with the Molen van Sloten in South are the only windmills open to the public.

Museums

Amsterdam has an amazing collection of museums, ranging from masterpieces of art to porn, vodka and cannabis. The most popular ones can get very crowded in the summer peak season, so it's worth exploring advance tickets or getting there off-peak (eg. very early in the morning). Some of the quality museums that you can't miss:

  • Anne Frank House - Dedicated to Anne Frank, a Jewish girl who kept a diary while hiding from Nazi persecution in hidden rooms at the rear of the building (known as the Achterhuis). It's an exhibition on the life of Anne Frank, but also highlights other forms of persecution and discrimination.
  • Rijksmuseum - Absolutely top-class museum that has a large collection of paintings from the Dutch Golden Age. Some artists you can't overlook are Rembrandt van Rijn, Johannes Vermeer, Frans Hals and Jan Steen. The must-sees are Rembrandt's Night Watch and Vermeer's Milkmaid. The museum also boasts a substantial collection of Asian art.
  • Van Gogh Museum - Even someone with little knowledge of art must have heard about Vincent van Gogh, the Dutch Post-Impressionist painter whose work had a far-reaching influence on 20th century art for its vivid colors and emotional impact. This museum has the largest collection of Van Gogh's paintings and drawings in the world.

The Museum Card (Museum Jaarkaart) [41] costs €39.95 (or €22.45 for those under 25 years old). It covers the cost of admission to over 400 museums across the Netherlands and you can buy it at most major museums. It is valid for an entire year, and you will need to write your name, birthday, and gender on it. If you are going to the Rijksmuseum and Van Gogh Museum, those are at least €10 each, so this card can quickly pay for itself. The tickets to the major museums, including the audio guide, can be bought early from the tourist information desk at no extra cost.

Zoo and botanical garden

For Artis Zoo and botanical gardens, head for Plantage.

  • The Heineken Experience. Former Heineken Brewery , Stadhouderskade 78 [42]. A must visit experience for young and old people. Open from Monday until Sunday from 11.00 'o clock until 19.00 'o clock. Entrance closes at 17.30 'o clock. heinekenexperience.com
  • Organised city tours. Several operators offer tours, visits to diamond factories, other guided visits, and canal cruises. Unless you really need a guide - for instance if you speak only Chinese - it is cheaper to visit everything yourself.
  • New Amsterdam Tours [43] offers a free three-hour guided tour (tips accepted at the end of the tour) of the major Amsterdam sites and history twice a day at 11:00AM and 1:00PM and once a day in Spanish at 11:00AM. Meet in front of the tourist information office across from Amsterdam Centraal Station, near the tour guide in a red "Free Tour" shirt. The company also offers a two-hour guided tour through the Red Light District at 6:45PM that meets at the same location for €10 per person (€8 for students).
  • Amsterdam City Tours [44] is a tour company offering bus, bike, boat, and walking tours through some of the most fascinating places in Amsterdam and Holland. Call +31(0)299-770799 or see their website for more information..
  • Amsterdam City Guide [45] Is Amsterdam City Guide with touristic articles, attractions, tips, tours services, concert tickets & accommodation. Customized Amsterdam maps are available as well and answers to most touristic questions.
  • Homomonument [46] Is a memorial to gays and lesbians murdered in the Second World War, a call for vigilance against homophobia, and an inspiration for gays and lesbians the world over. Three equilateral triangles made of pink granite that are connected by an inlaid band of pink bricks. These three triangles represent the past, present and future. It is located between the Westerkerk [47]and the Keizersgracht canal

Red Light District

The Red Light District consists of several canals, and the side streets between them, south of Central Station and east of Damrak. Known as 'De Wallen' (the quays) in Dutch, because the canals were once part of the city defences (walls and moats). Prostitution itself is limited to certain streets, mainly side streets and alleys, but the district is considered to include the canals, and some adjoining streets (such as Warmoesstraat and Zeedijk). The whole area has a heavy police presence, and many security cameras. Nevertheless it is still a residential district and has many bars and restaurants, and also includes historic buildings and museums - this is the oldest part of the city. The oldest church in Amsterdam, the Netherlands-gothic Oude Kerk on the Oudezijds Voorburgwal at Oudekerksplein, is now surrounded by window prostitution. The area has many sexshops and peep show bars. Note: Don't try to take photos of prostitutes even from the streets, or you might lose your camera without any warning. This section of town is a common attraction for bachelors celebrating a stag night, if you ever get hassled, a firm and loud "Leave me alone" will work most of the time.

Entering and exiting the premises is half of the job that might take some strength for first timers as you might hear some chuckles from people you'll never see again in your whole life. This part of town gets very crowded, especially on a normal weekend night, sometimes up until 3AM. A fifty euro bill will get you either oral sex or a girl laying on her back, the rest is up to you. Although every room is booked by the girl herself, some of the sex workers are still being pimped by outsiders.

You can book a tour of the Red Light District via the I amsterdam information booths. The tour starts at 5PM at the VOC Cafe and is found to be very informative and entertaining.

  • Several companies offer canal cruises, usually lasting from one to two hours. Departures from: Prins Hendrikkade opposite Centraal Station; quayside Damrak; Rokin near Spui; Stadhouderskade 25 near Leidseplein.
    • The Canal Bus [48]. Runs three fixed routes, stopping near major attractions (Rijksmuseum, Anne Frank's House, etc.). You can get on or off as often as you like, but it is expensive— ac;20 per person per 24 hours. The first boats start between 9.15 a.m. and 10.45 a.m. depending on which stop you get on. The last boats start dropping off at around 7 p.m.
    • Lovers Canal Cruise [49] start opposite the Rijksmuseum. It is €12 per person, but you cannot get on and off. The cruise is about one-and-a-half hours.
    • Amsterdam Boat Guide [50] Local company offering private boat tours in classic boats. Canal cruises, dinner cruises etc.
    • Amsterdam Jewel Cruises [51] offers an evening dinner cruise. It is the only classic boat offering a private table for a romantic dinner cruise. A la carte dining, but not cheap! The cruise starts at 7.30 pm and lasts just under three hours.
  • You can cruise the canals yourself, without the commentary with a canal bike (pedal boat) or rented boat.
    • Canal Company [52]. Has four rental locations; two-seater canal bikes cost €8 per person per hour.
    • Rent a boat Amsterdam [53].
  • Ultimately you can also rent a Venetian Gondola, hand made by an Amsterdam girl who traveled to Venice to learn the craft and build her own Gondola . [54] which she brought back to Amsterdam for you to enjoy.
  • Queens Day. The national holiday, nominally in celebration of the Queen's birthday (in fact the previous Queen's birthday) is hard to describe to anyone who's never been there. The city turns into one giant mass of orange-dressed people (all Amsterdam locals, and another 1 million or so from throughout the country visit the parties in the city) with flea markets, bands playing, and many on-street parties, ranging from small cafes placing a few kegs of beer outside to huge open-air stages hosting world-famous DJ's. An experience you'll never forget! April 30th - but if that is a Sunday, it is one day earlier (to avoid offence to orthodox Protestants).
  • MEETin Amsterdam [55]. A not-for-profit social group to help expats meet new people away from the bar and dating scene. The site's primary focus is to provide a relaxed, 'non-pickup-scene' social environment for people to enjoy without paying membership fees. For people who have either just moved to Amsterdam or lived there for a while, this group can be a great way to meet new people in the area. Events are arranged by MEETin members and include a variety of activities such as pub crawls, potlucks, movies, concerts, day trips and much more. You have to register and create a profile in order to participate. The group consists mostly of expats from around the world and has grown to more than 1,400 members (January 2008). The site is financed through voluntary donations.
  • Canal Pride [56]. Amsterdam gay pride on the first weekend in August. One of the biggest festivals in Amsterdam with parties, performances, workshops and a boat parade on the Prinsengracht on Saturday afternoon which is always well worth seeing.
  • CityNavigators [57]. Offers handheld GPS tourist maps for rent through participating hotels or online. The GPS devices are pre-programmed to take you to popular attractions or to guide you through walking (or bicycle) tours. E-mail info@citynavigators.com for more information.
  • Play Futsal [58]. Football tour organisers Eurofives stage special tournament weekends in Amsterdam at which you can enjoy some Dutch-style five-a-sides.
  • Amsterdam Weekly [59]. It is an Entertainment magazine in English on the Internet. You can find weekly Amsterdam events.
  • De Poezenboot [60]. You really like cats? The poezenboot (cat boat) is an refuge for cats awaiting adoption. Located in the centre of the city, a must for any cat lover.
  • Rialto Cinema [61]. For all arthouse cinema freaks. All films are shown in their original language with Dutch subtitles. They have late night and classic showings too. Just a short walk from the Albert Cuyp-Market/Heineken Brouwery, in a nice non-touristy neighbourhood.
  • Wynand Fockink [62]. Pijlsteeg 31 - 1012 HH Amsterdam - 020 639 26 95 - contact@wynand-fockink.nl Wynand Fockink is a distillery started in 1679. Right near Dam Place, they offer distillery tours (must reserve at least a week in advance as they fill up quickly), great liquors, and a great time in the back alleys of Amsterdam. They have numerous liquors, brandies, and jenevers and encourage you to try them all. It is traditional to stoop and sip the first drink and not spill.

Several companies offer private tours by car, van, or mini bus for groups of up to 8 people. Bike tours are also available at a more affordable price, and offer a more authentic dutch experience.

Boaty Rental Boats [63]. Boaty offers rental boats (max. 6 persons) for your own private tour: decide where to go yourself or choose one of Boaty's free canal routes. These rental boats are electrically driven which means they are silent and free of exhaust fumes. They are charged with renewable energy every night so you can enjoy your time on the water as long as you like. The boats are very stable, unsinkable and of course the rental is accompanied by free life vests in different sizes.

Tourist Run Amsterdam[64]. Tourist Run Amsterdam offers guided running tours through the city center of Amsterdam.

Learn

Amsterdam is home to two universities, both offer summer courses and other short courses (with academic credits).

  • Vrije Universiteit (VU University) [65]. Founded in 1880, the VU campus is located southwest of the city centre, and approximately 20 minutes away by bicycle. It is the only Protestant general university in the Netherlands.
  • Universiteit van Amsterdam [66]. Founded as the Athenaeum Illustre in 1632, in 1877 it became the University of Amsterdam. With about 25 000 students, the UvA is on three separate campuses in the city centre, plus smaller sites scattered over Amsterdam.

The Volksuniversiteit [67]. Despite the name, it is not a university, but a venerable institute for public education. Among the many courses are Dutch language courses for foreigners.

Work

Many people plan to move to Amsterdam for a year to relax before "settling down". This plan often falls apart at the job phase. Many people will find it difficult to get a suitable job, if they do not speak Dutch. However, hostels and hotels in Amsterdam may need bar staff, night porters etc, who speak English and other languages. There are also specialist websites for English and non-Dutch speakers looking to work in Amsterdam and they are a often a good place to start; Blue Lynx - Employment by Language [68], Undutchables [69], Unique [70] and Xpat Jobs[71] are all useful resources.

Immigration matters are dealt with by the Immigration Service IND [72]. Registration is done by both police and municipalities. Immigration policy is restrictive and deliberately bureaucratic. That is especially true for non-EU citizens.

European Union citizens do not require a work permit. Australians, New Zealanders and Canadians are afforded a one year working-holiday visa. In general the employer must apply for work permits. Immigration is easier for "knowledge migrants" earning a gross annual salary of over € 45 000 (over € 33 000 for those under 30).

There are many flexible office solution in Amsterdam that enable you to rent office space for a short term. See for example

Regus[73] or the Ph120 flexible office solutions at Prins Hendrikkade 120 [74]

Buy

The main central shopping streets run in a line from near Central Station to the Leidseplein: Nieuwendijk, Kalverstraat, Heiligeweg, Leidsestraat. The emphasis is on clothes/fashion, but there are plenty of other shops. They are not upmarket shopping streets, and the north end of Nieuwendijk is seedy. Amsterdam’s only upmarket shopping street is the P.C. Hooftstraat (near the Rijksmuseum).

Other concentrations of shops in the centre are Haarlemmerstraat / Haarlemmerdijk, Utrechtsestraat, Spiegelstraat (art/antiques), and around Nieuwmarkt. There is a concentration of Chinese shops at Zeedijk / Nieuwmarkt, but it is not a real Chinatown.

The ‘interesting little shops’ are located in the side streets of the main canals (Prinsengracht / Keizersgracht / Herengracht), and especially in the Jordaan - bounded by Prinsengracht, Elandsgracht, Marnixstraat and Brouwersgracht. The partly gentrified neighbourhood of De Pijp - around Ferdinand Bolstraat and Sarphatipark - is often seen as a 'second Jordaan'.

For general shop info and their openings hours you can visit 'Openingstijden Amsterdam' [75] it shows an overview of the most popular shops and their location on the map.

  • The Nine Streets, De Negen Straatjes,[76]. Nine narrow streets between the main canals from the Prinsengracht to the Singel, south-west of Dam Square. Boutiques, specialist shops, galleries and restaurants.
  • Santa Jet, Prinsenstraat 7, tel (020) 427 2070. This little boutique specializes in hand-made imports from Latin America. You can find everything from mini shrines made of tin, to lamps, to kitschy postcards.
  • De Beeldenwinkel Sculpture Gallery. This is a gallery for sculpture lovers, with bronze statues, pottery, abstract sculpture, raku-fired statues and marble figures sculpture to suit every budget and taste.
  • Jordaan [77]. One of the most picturesque 'village' areas of Amsterdam, the Jordaan has always been a centre for artisans, artists and creatives, today, this area has a wonderful selection of goldsmiths and jewellers, fashion boutiques, galleries, designer florists, and specialist shops.
  • Fashion & Museum District [78]. Located in Amsterdam Zuid, this is considered the chic area for shopping in Amsterdam, close to the Museum district, the PC Hooftstraat and the Cornelis Schuytstraat have some of the finest designer shops in the city, including designer shoes, health and well-being specialists, massage, fashion boutiques, designer interiors, designer florists and specialist shops.

In the older areas surrounding the centre, the main shopping streets are the Kinkerstraat, the Ferdinand Bolstraat, the Van Woustraat, and the Javastraat. The most 'ethnic' shopping street in Amsterdam is the Javastraat. There are toy stores and clothing shops for kids in the centre, but most are in the shopping streets further out, because that's where families with children live.

You can find plus size clothing in the center of Amsterdam. C&A, and H&M are both on the main shopping streets from the Central station. A bit further from the city center you can find Mateloos, Promiss, Ulla Popken as well as several stores by chain M&S mode.

A give-away shop can be found at Singel 267, open Tuesdays and Thursdays 1700-1900 and Saturdays 1200-1700.

For books, your best bet is The Book Exchange at Kloveniersburgwal 58 (tel (020) 6266 266), diagonally across from the youth hostel. It is a second-hand bookstore specialising in English books, and has a large selection, with an especially good selection of travel writing, detectives, and SF/fantasy. Open Mon- Sun 10AM- 4PM, Sun 11:30-4:30PM. For English literature and books, you can also try The American Book Center [79] store on Spui square. Waterstone's (Kalverstraat 152) is also a good tip for English literature. Large Dutch bookstores also carry a selection of foreign language books.

  • Cracked Kettle [80]. Located at Raamsteeg 3, 1012VZ Amsterdam, this beer, wine, and spirits shop carries independent, unique, and rare bottles. The staff are friendly, but the space is quite confined and obtaining bottles from the very top shelves requires assistance and a dust rag. 12.00 - 22.00 everyday

Street markets

Street markets originally sold mainly food, and most still sell food and clothing, but they have become more specialised. A complete list of Amsterdam markets (with opening times and the number of stalls) can be found at online at Hollandse Markten [81] and Amsterdam.info [82] in English.

Albert Cuyp Market
Albert Cuyp Market
Bloemenmarkt
Bloemenmarkt
  • Ten Cate Market. 3rd Largest in Amsterdam. Monday to Saturday from about 8AM until around 5PM. Food, households, flowers and clothing.
  • Albert Cuyp. Largest in Amsterdam, best-known street market in the country. Can get very crowded, so watch out for pickpockets. Monday to Saturday from about 9AM until around 5PM.
  • Dappermarkt. In the east, behind the zoo, and was voted best market in the Netherlands. Monday to Saturday from about 8AM until around 5PM.
  • Waterlooplein. Well-known but overrated flea market. Monday to Saturday until about 5PM.
  • Lindengracht. In the Jordaan, selling a wide range of goods, fruit and vegetables, fish and various household items. Saturday only. 9AM to 4PM. Tram 3 or 10 to Marnixplein, and a short walk along the Lijnbaansgracht.
  • Spui. Fridays: Books. Sundays: Art and Antiques.
  • Bloemenmarkt. Floating flower market, open daily on the Singel canal, near Muntplein. Very touristy, but you could do worse than buy your tulips here. Make sure you buy pre-approved bulbs if taking them to the US or Canada. They will have the holographic licence and export tag on the bag.
  • Lapjesmarkt. Westerstraat, in the Jordaan. A specialist market concentrating on selling cloth and material for making clothes, curtains etc. Mondays only. 9AM to 1PM. Tram 3 or 10 to Marnixplein.
  • Noordermarkt. In the historical Jordaan area of the city. On Monday morning (9AM to 1PM) the Noordermarkt is a flea market selling fabrics, records, second-hand clothing etc, and forms part of the Lapjesmarkt mentioned above. On Saturday (9AM to 4PM), the Noordermarkt is a biological food market, selling a wide range of ecological products like organic fruits and vegetables, herbs, cheese, mushrooms etc, there is also a small flea market. Tram 3 or 10 to Marnixplein, and a short walk down the Westerstraat.
  • Treinreiswinkel is a travel agency specializing in rail travel. They are well informed and can arrange international train tickets and even a complete package tour if you wish. They also sell interrail tickets. It's at Singel 393, 1012 WN +31 (0) 71 5137008. They also have an Leiden office which is their main office.
This guide uses the following price ranges for a typical meal for one, including soft drink:
Budget Below €20
Mid-range €20-50
Splurge €50+

Smoking Ban

Smoking is banned in all Dutch bars and restaurants.

There is a large diversity of restaurants in Amsterdam, especially if you are looking for Asian cuisine. The influence of the Dutch colonial past is apparent, as can be seen in the wide array of Indonesian restaurants. Most Asian restaurants are clustered at the Zeedijk in Nieuwmarkt, for this reason often dubbed as Amsterdam's Chinatown. It's also home to many tokos, small Asian grocery stores that sell Eastern food and spices. Indonesian restaurants are usually of excellent quality, but Indian ones can be expensive and of poor quality. Chinatown also offers plenty of Chinese, Thai and Japanese restaurants. Nearby is the Damstraat, a fairly busy road filled with small and cheap Chinese and Middle Eastern restaurants - expect sticky tables, but it's definitely a good place for budget travelers. The numerous falafel bars have a good value, often sporting a "all you can pile" salad bar.

Surinamese food is widely available and worth a try. The highest concentration of Surinamese restaurants can be found in the South, especially in the Albert Cuypstraat. And the Vlaamse Frites -- large french fries served with mayonnaise -- are great. Eetcafe's are pubs serving dinner too. Many restaurants of all kinds can be found in the Haarlemmer Neighborhood (north of Jordaan), and in the narrow streets crossing the two. Also worth trying is the Van Woustraat in the Pijp, or continue to the Rijnstraat in the Rivierenbuurt. Exquisite but expensive restaurants can be found in the Utrechtse Straat.

Local cheese is marvellous, buy some at the Albert Cuyp market, or at specialist cheese shops found around central Amsterdam. Dutch cheese is traditionally firm, and is made in large wax-covered wheels, and falls into two main categories - Young and Old. Within those categories, there exists a rich variety. Among the more unusual young cheeses is cumin (Komijn) cheese, which is particular to the Netherlands. Sheep (Schapen) and goat (Geiten) cheeses are also common. Old (Oud) cheese can be made of any sort of milk, and is often reminiscent of Italian parmesan in consistency and sharpness of flavour.

Don't forget to taste the main culinary contribution of the Amsterdammers to the world: Heineken - oh, except you've already done that, and it doesn't taste any better in Holland. Try some of the other excellent beers you can get from this part of the world - including "witbeer" (White beer). Also check out "bitterballen", a kind of fried meatball, and the "kroketten" (the same, but shaped like a cylinder). Last but not least, don't forget to try the "broodje haring" (herring sandwich), available from the dozens of fish stalls that scatter the city (and if they ask "with onions and gherkins?", just say "of course"!). If you're visiting in late November or December, you can enjoy oliebollen, which are round blobs of sweet fried dough embedded with raisins (sultanas) and dusted with powdered sugar.

Avoid at all costs any steak house in the centre - they are well known tourist traps. You will also never be hungry enough to make Febo [83] a good idea.

Budget

For food during the day, the Albert Heijn supermarkets (largest national chain) usually have cheap ready-to-go meals on hand, from pre-packaged sandwiches and salads to microwavable single-serving meals. There is one right behind the Royal Palace on Dam Square, on the Nieuwmarkt, on Koningsplein and in the Vijzelstraat.

For budget meal, check out also the various Falafel and Shoarma restaurents around the Damstraat and Muntplein. They usually include in the dish a large amount of salad.

Drink

Amsterdam's famously wild nightlife caters to all tastes and budgets.

Bars and pubs

The archetypal Amsterdam watering hole is the bruine ("brown bar" or "brown café"), a neighborhood pub of sorts with gorgeous dark wood panelling — hence the name — and booths. These do not sell cannabis, see coffeeshops below for that.

Coffeeshops

Amsterdam is renowned for it's liberal drug policy. Coffeeshops, not to be confused with coffeehouses or cafes, are allowed to sell cannabis and hash for personal use (not more than 5 grams). While technically still illegal, mostly to comply to international treaties, personal use of (soft) drugs are regulated by the Ministry of Justice under an official policy of gedogen; literally this means to accept or tolerate, legally it is a doctrine of non-prosecution on the basis that action taken would be so highly irregular as to constitute selective prosecution. The city council of Amsterdam only allows coffeeshops to operate with the provision of set, non-transferable licenses - as shown by an official green and white sticker on the window of a coffeeshop.

That said, drug usage is increasingly being strictly controlled by the Dutch government. Garish advertising is not allowed (look for red-yellow-green rasta colors and the English word "coffeeshop"); no alcohol or edible cannabis products may be sold inside a coffeeshop; customers who want to smoke their weed mixed with tobacco are limited to special sealed 'smoking areas'; the amount of coffeeshops has decreased significantly since 1995; coffeeshops within a '250 meter school zone' have been closed down; and the usage of magic mushrooms has been forbidden since December 2008 (after two fatal incidents with foreign tourists).

Still there are about 250 coffeeshops in Amsterdam, most of them in the Old Center. Prices hover around €5 for 1 grams, with the average joint around 2g and a 5g/person sales limit. Most coffeeshops are happy to recommend varieties and prepare your joint for you.

  • Bulldog, [84]. Chain of touristy coffeeshops.
  • Grey Area.
  • The Bluebird - one of the best selections of pot in Amsterdam.
  • De Kuil (420 Cafe)
  • Global Chillage - Good produce and nice tunes but uncomfortable seating.
  • Barney's [85]. Multiple Cannabis Cup winner.
  • Rokerij[86]. Four coffeeshops.
  • Kadinsky
  • Hill Street Blues - lively atmosphere but buy cannabis elsewhere.
  • Club Media - Completely organic menu, fair selection, good prices, lovely staff, free fruit!
  • Katsu - Just around the corner from Media, good prices + nice atmosphere.
  • The Greenhouse - usually pretty crowded but when warm or if you can get a seat definitely one of the nice coffeeshops near the red light. Also has a bar next door.
  • De Dampkring - three locations, bought out Pink Floyd and renovated it. Original shop featured in a scene in Ocean's 12.
  • De Kroon.
  • Abraxas.
  • Homegrown Fantasy.
Individual listings can be found in Amsterdam's district articles
This guide uses the following price ranges for a standard double room:
Budget Under €50
Mid-range €50 to €150
Splurge Over €150

Amsterdam has over 400 registered hotels of varying standards from budget facilities to some of the most expensive hotels in Europe. Advance booking is recommended, especially for weekends and holidays. Most hotels and hostels can be found in the Old Center, notably south of central station, and in the South around the Museum Quarter. Charming boutique accomodation can be found in the wealthier residential Grachtengordel area, home to the rich and famous and it's squares are the prime nightlife of the city. Some cheaper hostels can also be found in the Red Light District.

A simple bed in a hostel starts around €15 on weekdays in the winter and up to €30 on a weekend in the summer. A twin room in a budget hotel, 1-2 stars, might cost around €40 on weekdays in the winter and up to €100 on summer weekends. In a three and four star hotel, the prices would range from €100 to €200, depending on season, and five stars hotels can cost between €150 and €400 a night.

Do not expect a wide amount of services from cheaper end hostels and hotels. Most of these do not have elevators and have the usual steep staircases; if you suffer from vertigo, do get an assurance that you will be getting a first or second floor room or book a hotel that has an elevator.

Contact

Internet

The first internet cafes of the country opened in Amsterdam, but they vanished as quickly as they appeared. Only a few smaller internet cafes remain in the Old Center. Outside of it, you might want to try your luck at one of the phone shops (belwinkel), which cater for immigrant communities in the Netherlands, but they usually only have one or two terminals. The Amsterdam Public Library (Openbare Bibliotheek Amsterdam) offers free internet access. It is limited to web-only access though, and is located near the Central Station in the Old Center.

If you bring a laptop, many hotels in the city offer wifi free of charge for guests, but inform before making a booking. Don't count on this when staying at a hostel or cheaper end hotel. On the go, you can try some of the various coffee houses or fast food chains for wi-fi — but nearly all of them charge for it.

Telephone

The telephone country code for the Netherlands is 31, and Amsterdam's city code is 020.

If making local calls from a pay phone, you will need a phone card (€5 minimum) as many green KPN telephone booths do not accept coins. blue/orange Telfort booths accept both coins and cards. The KPN booths are currently being replaced by newer models, which will accept coins again. There are very few public telephones on the streets or in public transport stations in the Netherlands. If you need to make a call and do not have access to a local phone or hotel phone, it is best to go to a call center or use a calling service over the internet (like Skype, for example). Most payphones require phone cards which can be bought at post offices and some delis, although the cards are increasingly hard to find. Also, as in any area, some of the pay phones are scams. If you do need to use a payphone, call the free customer service number listed on the payphone first to make sure the phone is actually in service. When you call the customer service number listed on the phone, if you get a recorded message or 'number not in service' message in Dutch or English, then DON'T put your money or credit card into the phone. Phones run by BBG Communications, common in Europe and the U.S., have repeatedly been alleged to make fraudulent charges with credit cards used in their phone, for calls that were never made.

There are phone shops ('belwinkel') all over the city. Outside the city center, they mostly serve immigrants calling their home country at cheap rates.

If you have a simlock-free European GSM mobile phone (suitable for GSM 900/1800 networks), consider buying a prepaid simcard. You can buy these in any electronics store, and they are often the same price as buying a KPN phonebooth card. Calling then is a lot cheaper than using pay phones, and you are mobile.

Stay safe

General

You should take normal precautions against pickpockets and baggage theft, especially in the main shopping streets, in trams and trains, at stations, and anywhere where tourists congregate. Street begging is no longer common in Amsterdam, because the police take a harder line. Some beggars are addicts, some are homeless, and some are both.

What looks like a footpath, especially along a canal bank, may be a bike lane. Bike lanes are normally marked by red/purple tiles or asphalt, and a bike icon on the ground. However, the colour fades over time, so you might miss the difference. Don't expect cyclists to be kind to pedestrians: some consider the side-walk an extension of the road, to be used when it suits them. Never stay or walk on the bike path or street for extended periods of time, as you will only be greeted by angry bell ringing. Keep in mind that for many Amsterdammers, the bike is their main means of transportation. For the bike theft problem see above, Get around.

Watch out for trams when crossing the street. Taxis are also allowed to use some tram lanes, and even if not allowed, they often use them anyway.

Visitors from outside the Euro zone should also take care they are not short-changed in shops. Unscrupulous vendors sometimes try to take advantage of those who are not familiar with the currency.

Groups of women visiting the Red Light District at night might feel harassed in the aggressive environment, though this is said to be the safest area because of the police presence. Keep to main streets and groups. Do not take photographs of the prostitutes!

Cannabis and other drugs

It cannot be denied that many tourists come to Amsterdam for the coffeeshops. Coffeeshops (in English but written as one word) only sell soft drugs such as marijuana and hash - asking for other drugs is pointless because coffeeshops are watched closely by the authorities, and nothing will get them closed faster than having hard drugs for sale. 'Café' is the general name for a place licenced to sell alcohol, i.e. a bar. Since April 1, 2007 coffeeshops are no longer allowed to sell alcohol.

Quality varies! Coffeeshops aimed at tourists are more likely to have overpriced and poor quality products. A simple rule of thumb is: if the place looks good and well-kept chances are their wares will be good as well. Don't just enter a coffeeshop being overwhelmed that it's possible at all to buy and consume cannabis openly - be discerning as to the quality.

If you're not a smoker, and you really want to try it, start with something light, make sure you don't have an empty stomach, and don't combine it with alcohol. Be forthright with the counter person about your inexperience, they see it all the time. Go with an experienced person if you can. Regardless of the strength, your first experience can be quite a sensation at first, but will quickly decrease in intensity. You may want to plan to return to your hotel and "hole up" for a couple hours until you become comfortable with the feeling. If you do find yourself too strongly under the influence - feeling nauseous, woozey or faint - drink orange juice or eat something sweet like cookies or candy, and get fresh air. Dutch-grown nederwiet (a.k.a. super skunk) is much stronger than you might expect, even if you are experienced. The THC level can be as high as 15%, twice the norm (source: Trimbos Institute).

You will be approached by people offering to sell you hard drugs in the street, especially as you are walking through the Red Light District. Ignorance or failing that a firm refusal is enough - they will not pester you. The selling of drugs in the street is illegal and often dangerous; moreover the drugs sold to strangers are usually fake. When they invite you to see the goods, they can lure you into a narrow street and rob you.

So-called smartshops do not sell any illegal products, but a range of dietary supplements, including 'herbal exstacy' - a legal attempt at an ecstasy pill alternative which is a complete waste of money and various more or less obscure psychedelic herbs and despite a change in the law, one type of magic mushrooms. It is the latter which causes problems as people often underestimate their strength. Magic mushrooms have few physical risks attached to them, but can have a very strong short-acting psychological effect, which can either be great or very distressing, depending on your own mindset (e.g. if you are relaxed, have any serious worries, history of mental illness, etc.) and your surroundings (e.g. if you feel comfortable and safe in them). The first time you try this should always be in a familiar and trusted environment, not on the streets of an unfamiliar city. If you do decide to try it please get informed first. Conscious Dreams [87], the company who invented the entire concept of a 'smartshop' back in 1994 does this clearly (without downplaying the possible risks just to sell more like some other shops do) and responsibly. Also plan well ahead, make sure you have thought out where you will be, most recommended is going to a large park like the Vondelpark, the Rembrandtpark or the Amsterdamse Bos where it is quiet, and there is no risk from traffic. Make sure that being intoxicated will not endanger your safety, or that of anybody else. Be sure to make your purchase in the Smartshops rather than a regular coffeeshop. They are better regulated and information is available from the attendants that work there. They are also of better quality and stronger potency than at the coffeeshops.

If you're not sure of how much to take, take a small dose. Then you'll know what your "tolerance" level is. People who have bad trips are those who take a dosage over their own tolerance level. Never take more than one packet of mushrooms - usually half is good for your first time. A good smart shop can give you more info about this.

Do keep in mind that all hemp related products (except the seeds) are still illegal. This can be confusing for most tourists, who do think hemp products are legal since they are sold in coffeeshops. Hemp products are not legal, rather they are "tolerated" under the Dutch Opium Act. Read more about the legalities in the article about the Netherlands.

As of April 2009 you can still buy Magic mushrooms.

Amsterdam plays host to the Cannabis Cup, the most important marijuana related event in the world every year during the week of Thanksgiving. The Cannabis Cup is organized by High Times magazine, and offers both tourists and natives the chance to enjoy 5 days of consuming and judging marijuana in different forms. Participants are eligible to pay $199 in advance or €250 at the door to obtain a "judges pass", which allows entry to the event for all 5 days, admission to numerous concerts and seminars held during the event, the ability to vote on numerous awards that are handed out, and free bus tours to and from the event. Day passes are available for €30 for each day, and certain concerts sell tickets at the door provided they are not already sold out.

  • Amsterdam Weekly. An English-language free cultural weekly published every Wednesday. It provides coverage of Amsterdam city life, and an arts and entertainment calendar.
  • Mijn NL [88]. A free bi-weekly magazine which lists all events happening in Amsterdam. The section is divided into Music, Night(clubs, DJs), Gay, Comedy, Cabaret, Stage, Festival, Musical, Dance, Expositions, Children, and also Movie listings. It can be picked up at any Albert Heijn supermarket, and many venues. Covers more events than Uitkrant and Amsterdam Weekly. Although written in Dutch, it would be easy to understand the basic idea. Also provides suggestions on bars, restaurants, shops and hair dressers. Check out the online edition.
  • UnderwaterAmsterdam. An online English-language guide to the Dutch capital which evolved from the free magazine Shark. It has an extraordinary number of daily events for English speakers – music, parties, theatre, opera, queer etc – plus annual events and upcoming gigs. It posts the latest gigs as they're announced by via Twitter. Written by an experience travel writer, it also features a city guide – with the best places to visit in town – plus daily news and horoscopes (written by celebrity astrologer Bridgett Walther) . [89]
  • Uitkrant. A free monthly magazine, listing all concerts, classical, jazz, pop etc., exhibitions, museums and anything cultural to do in Amsterdam. It can be picked up at many spots in the city, e.g. at the Uitburo at the Leidseplein.
  • Amsterdam Spoke. An English magazine featuring Amsterdam’s daily life, its ambiance and trends.[90]

Religious services

Holy mass in Catholic churches (Overview of cath. churches in Amsterdam (dutch): [91]):

  • Begijnhofkapel (HH. Joannes en Ursula), Begijnhof 29. [92] Sun: 10PM 11:15PM (in French); Mon-Fri: 9AM, 5PM; Sat: 9AM.
  • De Krijtberg (St. Franciscus Xaverius), Singel 448 (stop Koningsplein of trams 1, 2, 5). [93] Sat: 12:30PM, 5:15PM; Sun: 9:30AM; 11:00AM, 12:30AM, 5:15PM; Mon-Fri: 12:30PM, 5:15PM.
  • Onze Lieve Vrouwekerk, Keizersgracht 220/218 B (stop Westermarkt of trams 6, 13, 14, 17 or busses 21, 170, 172). [94] Sat: 7PM; Sun: 11:15AM, 1:00PM (surinam.); Mon-Fri (chapel): 12:15PM, 7:30PM.
  • Papegaai (HH. Petrus en Paulus), Kalverstraat 58 (by feet 20 min from central station). Sat: 5:30PM; Sun: 10:30AM, 12:15PM; Mon-Sat: 10:30AM.
  • Zusters van Moeder Teresa, Amsterdam-Badhoevedorp, Egelantierstraat 147 (city center). Sun: 3:00PM; Mon-Sat: 07:30AM.
  • Vrouwe van alle volkeren, Diepenbrockstraat 3 (near to RAI congress centre), tel. (020)-6620504. Sun: 09:30AM, 11:15AM; Mon-Sat: 12:15PM; Tue: 7:15PM.

The older generation of Dutch people tends to be more religious.

Get out

Direct trains connect Amsterdam to Paris, to major Belgian cities like Brussels and Antwerp, and to German cities like Cologne, Frankfurt and Berlin. The ticket machines directly sell tickets to nearby destinations in Belgium and Germany, for longer journeys you will need to consult the international ticket office at platform 2 of the Central Station. CityNightLine trains run directly from Amsterdam Central Station to Milan, Vienna, Copenhagen, Prague, Warsaw, Moscow, Munich, Innsbruck, and Zurich (reservation compulsory).

Almost any place in the Netherlands can be reached within 3 hours of rail travel. To make more sense, day trips can be divided into those close to the city (about 30 minutes by public transport) and those further afield.

  • Broek in Waterland - a 'picturesque' village and a tourist destination since the 19th century
  • Haarlem - the closest of the historic cities
  • Zuid-Kennemerland National Park - a unique national park made of dunes formed over the centuries
  • Monnickendam - a small 17th-century port town
  • Muiden - formerly a small port at the mouth of the Vecht river, it boasts the Muiderslot, the best-known castle of the country
  • Naarden - surrounded by a complete ring of 17th-century fortifications
  • Hilversum - wealthy town known for it's magnificent town hall, also offers interesting cycling tours through forests and the heath
  • Weesp - nearest small fortified town with a quiet historic center on the Vecht river, 14 minutes by train
  • Volendam - once a fishing village, it is now the most commercialised tourist destination in the Netherlands (Edam and Marken are nearby and more authentic)
  • Zaanse Schans - historic windmills, trademen workshops and open-air museum
  • Zandvoort - closest beach resort
  • Alkmaar - historic town with its cheese market
  • Delft - well-known for its typical blue and white ceramics
  • Den Bosch - typical city for the Southern Netherlands, goes crazy during carnival
  • Enkhuizen - interesting village with the Zuiderzee Museum, that shows how people used to live with the persistent danger of the sea
  • Hoorn - historic port that played a large role in the history of the Dutch East India Company (VOC)
  • Kinderdijk - this authentic network of windmills shows the typical Dutch countryside at its best
  • Keukenhof - a seasonal attraction in the Spring, these enormous flower fields are popular among travellers
  • Rotterdam - has a history of rivalry with Amsterdam, and a completely different atmosphere with modern architecture
  • The Hague - political heart of the country, Madurodam, and Scheveningen, the most popular beach of the country
  • Utrecht - historic town that has a less-ambitious canal system
This is a usable article. It has information for getting in as well as some complete entries for restaurants and hotels. An adventurous person could use this article, but please plunge forward and help it grow!

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