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De Wallen is a residential and entertainment area in the historical centre of Amsterdam, the city’s oldest part.
Amsterdam’s oldest canal.
The area is almost completely made up out of old historical buildings. Some of them dating back to the 16th or 17th century. The oldest building in the city – the Oude Kerk – even dates back to the year 1300. De Wallen is located next to the Central Station and is considered to be the entrance of Amsterdam.
In total 4,295 people live in De Wallen. People from all parts of society live here. All surrounded by window brothels, sex shops, coffeeshops (cannabis stores), erotic theatres, historical and religious buildings and much more.
De Wallen represents the openminded-ness of the Dutch. Only here one can find an active church encircled by many window brothels.
A literal translation of De Wallen is: Embankment.
Professor Jerzy Gawronski – archeologist:
The word ‘Wallen’ comes from the canals that cross section the Red Light District; the Oudezijds Voorburgwal and the Oudezijds Achterburgwal. A ‘burgwal’ means ‘defensive wall’ with a canal in front, but now the name is used for the canals itself, which were dug as a defense for Amsterdam. That’s why the whole neighborhood is now called “De Wallen” in Dutch. (source)
Amsterdam, De Wallen, Oudezijds Achterburgwal.
Despite what many people might think about de Wallen area – also known as Red Light District – it isn’t really that big. The total size of de Wallen is 1 km2. The prostitution area itself measures around 250 meters by 250 meters.
The area borders on de Lange Niezel en Korte Niezel streets in the northern part. The Zeedijk and Nieuwmarkt in the eastern part, the Koestraat and Sint Jansstraat in the South and the Warmoesstraat in the west.
Outlined in red are the borders this area. As you can see Amsterdam Central Station is located on top of it. From Schiphol Airport by train you can be in area within 25 minutes.
Window brothel prostitution takes place in De Wallen area in the following streets:
✦ Enge Kerksteeg
✦ Oudezijds Achterburgwal
✦ Oudezijds Voorburgwal
✦ Sint Annendwarsstraat
✦ Sint Annenstraat
Amsterdam Red Light District (De Wallen) has currently 288 window brothels which are rented in the daytime and nighttime.
More Info: Window Brothel Map
The area also offers many other forms of other erotic entertainment. These include many sex shops, stripbars and erotic theatres. Casa Rosso and the Bananenbar being the most famous for live sex shows. A more modern erotic entertainment option is the recently opened 5D Porn Cinema. De Wallen also has many bars and coffeeshops.
For those looking for more cultural experience de Wallen also has Ons’ Lieve Heer Op Solder Museum. The Hash Marihuana & Hemp Museum. The Museum Of Prostitution and changing expositions in Amsterdam’s oldest building; The Old Church.15 ATTRACTIONS IN DE WALLEN >
What a window worker sees.
De Wallen is always open as it is a residential and public area in Amsterdam’s city centre.
The opening hours for window brothels are between 06:00 am & 09.00 am. The windows are only closed for 3 hours a day. However depending on the time of day there might be more or less prostitutes working
The windows are rented in shifts; day shifts and night shifts. Most prostitutes prefer to take the night shifts because then there are more visitors in the Red Light District.
Restaurants and bars open and close spread out throughout the day. You can have breakfast starting from 8:00 am. Most restaurants close around 10:00 pm. The latest closing time for cafes and bars are 3:00 am from Sunday to Thursday. On Friday’s and Saturdays it’s 4:00 am.
Regular shops tend to open around 10:00 am and close around 7:00 pm.
Entertainment and erotic related shops tend to open around 10:00 am and close around 10:00 pm.
Amsterdam, Red Light District, Oudezijds Voorburgwal.
This area has a hotel for every taste. From the most luxurious 5 star hotel to the low cost bunkbed backpacker hotel.
Prices are seasonably bound so expect to pay more in the summer and less in low season. Low season in Amsterdam is between October and March, excluded the holidays in December. High season is between April and September.
On the following page you can find the best hotels in Amsterdam Red Light District. The overview offers both affordable and exclusive hotels.
The top 10 hotels are listed in De Wallen map:
De Wallen area is the oldest part of Amsterdam. Both the above mentioned Old Church and the Warmoesstraat situated next to it date back as far as the 13th century. In the 15th century or even before that prostitution was taking place in De Wallen area. Perhaps not on the exact streets that are the places for it today.
But ever since the 15th century prostitution hasn’t left this part of town. There’s a historical record of brothels and other prostitution establishment being located in the Oudezijds area. Also often also in other parts of the city.
The most narrow alley in Amsterdam, 1969.
Prostitution in Amsterdam has often been banned from 1578 and onwards. Those people who did it or facilitated it were sanctioned and driven away from the city. Window brothel prostitution made its first appearance in the 1930’s. Prostitutes were forbidden from soliciting men from their doorway by the police. Sitting behind a window with a tiny split in the curtains was allowed.
In the 1960’s – during the sexual revolution – the modern iteration of the Red Light District really started. In that era prostitution increased significantly in the area. More window brothels and and more sex stores were opened.
More pictures and details: De Wallen History
In the summer of 2007, the Coalition Project 1012 (in short Project 1012) was initiated. Together the municipality and the centre district of Amsterdam started working on creating more variety and reducing crime. And also to economically upgrade the zip code area 1012, which is also the zip code of De Wallen.
In 2009, the city council agreed to designate window prostitution as a criminal sector. In 2011, the city council decided to expel the window brothels from, for example, Sint Annenstraat and Oudekerksplein and the surrounding area. All located in the same area. The municipality expected to help women who were forced into prostitution.
The building above used to have several window brothels. The building was bought by the City of Amsterdam which rents it to an entrepreneur who offers recycled products in the Red Light District. This company is hardly visited, because people do not visit this neighborhood for these types of products.
In 2018, the Amsterdam Court of Audit found that the government’s Red Light District project had not been successful. Despite the closure of 112 window brothels and 48 coffeeshops. And almost no crime related to this project was found 10 years in De Wallen. Some locals and experts claimed that the local government only used Project 1012 as an excuse to change this part of Amsterdam by decreasing prostitution and cannabis related businesses.