Culture and transgression

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Holland, Netherlands
North Holland
Spoken language:

Schengen Area: ID card or passport

Extra U.E.:short says (3 months) passaport valid at least three months after the departing date and if need be visa

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230 V / 50 Hz - F Type Plug (Schuko) and L Type Plug

When you decide to visit a city like Amsterdam, you decide to immerge yourself in a reality defined by an open minded society, and not only, that attracts all sorts of people, from every part of the world. Walking the streets of Amsterdam you can breathe in air of tolerance that allows puritans and beatniks alike to perfectly live together in an atmosphere that is lively and dynamic, where even ones sexual orientation is respected and welcomed easily, keep in mind the many meeting points for lesbians and homosexuals, and the annual celebrations of “Amsterdam Pride” and “Leather Pride”.


Since the ’60’s the city has been loved by hippies, lovers of pop and counterculture and all the various protesters of the time. For some aspects a part of the city’s soul still relives those times but in a context of modern day society. We spoke about open mindedness, also in politics, testified by the approach to drugs and prostitution. It is this very special reality that attracts so many tourists to the capital of the Netherlands, together with the wonders of the landscape, architecture and art. We should remind you in fact, that in the city you will be able to admire the amazing intersection of canals, the majestic buildings built in Netherlands classicistic style and also the gorgeous works of beloved painters, such as Rembrandt and Van Gogh.

Amsterdam is often compared to Venice because of the canals, but the two cities have their own peculiar character and it would therefore be demoting to define the Dutch capital as the Venice of the north. It has it’s own charm, to be discovered walking along the streets of the city, cheerful and lively at all hours, that are then lit up during the night, as Amsterdam is considered to be one of Europe’s leading cities when it comes to night life. In addition to all this, we must remember that Amsterdam, being the capital of the Netherlands, attracts visitors for a great number of other reasons connected to the features and traditions of the whole country: from the typical windmills, celebrated on 11th May with a day devoted to them, to the flowers, like the ones you can see on show in the Flower market on the Singel canal, to diamonds and precious stones, of which Amsterdam is the commercial capital since the end of 1500, to beer, a national excellence like cheese, to the controversial coffee-shops, all the way to traditional craftmanship products like clogs and Delft ceramics.


All this makes Amsterdam an ideal destination to spend a few days in the name of culture, art, landscape beauty, fun and why not, transgression.

What a city like Amsterdam today is and can offer, is the result of a long historical route which saw the city change, adapting to the demands of it’s citizens, and from time to time paying the price for it’s consistency.




The small trading hamlet near the Amstel river, more precisely near a natural dam of the river, which appeared towards the end of the 12th century, known and Amstel on Dam, began to be known by the name of Amsterdam only since around 1200. Today, in place of the old dam is the main square of the city, Dam Square. Only at the beginning of the 13th century did Gwijde van Henegouwen, bishop of Utrecth, award it the dignity of a city. From that moment it extended slowly outward from the centre around the dam, bastions were built and canals were dug. In the first half of the 1400’s Amsterdam branched out to the East and more canals were constructed, even though the economy of the city was very simple and modest, based on producing beer and fishing herrings. Once it became part of the Burgundy Empire, the port began to acquire an important role in trading with Baltic countries, so important that Amsterdam became part of the strong Hanseatic League. Amsterdam participated in a resistance war of the Seven Northern Provinces, the Eighty Years’ War (1568-1648), taking part in the Reformation in 1578. During this period the city, with it’s 30.000 citizens, was the most populated in Holland. Already considered at the time one of Europe’s most tolerant countries, many merchants moved their business from Antwerp. Furthermore it’s fame as an “open” city, encouraged many Jews, who had been driven away from Portugal and Spain, and after the annulment of the Edict of Nantes also the rich French Protestant families, to find shelter in Amsterdam. Thus the entrepreneurial middle class was born, from that moment onwards always at the centre of the cities affairs, with commercial activities, manufacturing, fostered by the products which arrived from the Asian and American colonies, and the shipbuilding industry. The annexation of Portugal to Spain in 1580, pushed the Dutch to search for their own route for the East Indies and so many ventures were undertaken, like the well-known Dutch East India Company, VOC ( Vereenigde Oost-Indische Compagnie), of which more than 50% of it’s assets was owned by the city of Amsterdam, not only merchants were involved but also citizens. At the beginning of the 1600’s the Stock Exchange and Bank were founded, which also managed to face the city’s period of decline that began in the second half of the 1700’s.  


Parallel to a flourishing economy, the history of the city was always accompanied by a equal cultural shine that culminated, in the mid XVII century, with the beginning of the pictorial school that Rembrandt operated, the philosophical activity of Cartesio and with the poetic production of Bredero, Vondel and Hooft. The whole of these favorable factors, culture, wealth, tolerance, allowed Amsterdam to expand both in dimensions and population, the ring of channels was built, new architectures rose in the city, among which churches and the new town hall, so much that already in the 1700’s Amsterdam counted 200.000 inhabitants. Because of the war in which the nation was involved in 1672, the port of Amsterdam was no longer safe for the ships of the East India Company, but this didn’t stop the economy of the city that proved to be ready to face the new situation starting a process of transformation of its economy from mercantile to financial, so much that it soon became the banking center of the European monarchs for the financing of their expensive wars. A further stop to the economy happened when Napoleone elected it to be capital of the Kingdom of Holland in 1806 and was forced to bear the expenses of the anti-French continental block. With the Congress of Vienna the city became officially capital of the Kingdom of the Netherlands, but the government functions were transferred to The Hague. During the nineteenth century with the construction of new channels, the city gradually found its ancient prosperity once more, marked by a new continuous increase of the population. During the Second World War the population in Amsterdam was hit harshly, above all the individuals of the conspicuous Jewish community which were in many cases deported killed. Testimonies of such tragic historical moments are represented by places such as the House-museum of Anne Frank and the National Monument in Dam Square.


After the difficult post-war period Amsterdam embarked on a new course with regards to the economy, culture and tourism, the latter driven mainly by the fact that many of its old buildings are today historical monuments and its canals, part of the Grachtengordel, have been added to the UNESCO list as a World Heritage site. All this preserving that vocation to tolerance and respect that make it, today more than ever, a special city destination for many tourists and young people from all over the world.


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