Amsterdam is the capital of the Netherlands and has been known, throughout the centuries, as a meeting point of cultures. Hospitality and tolerance towards different opinions are significant for this cosmopolitan city. The city has a population of just 820.000 and the biggest in the Netherlands.
Legend has it that Amsterdam was founded by two fisherman after they landed on the banks of the Amstel river. The official excistence of the city dates back to the year 1275. Count Floris the 5th granted the settlement the privilege to levy toll. City rights were granted around 1300 which marked the beginning of Amsterdam’s prosperity.
Towards the end of the 16th century merchants from Antwerp moved to Amsterdam after Spanish troops has looted Antwerp. Amsterdam became for a short period the biggest and one of the richest town of the world. After 80-year war with Spain, from 1568-1648, ended, Amsterdam started to prosper soon. Those were the days when many people were drawn to Amsterdam, amongst them jews from Spain and Portugal.
The 17th century is considered to be the Golden Age of Amsterdam. The Portuguese set the trend for widening the field of trade and the Dutch soon followed. In the year 1602 the Compagny of the East Indies was founded, in 1621 the Company of the West Indies.
The city of New Amsterdam, became the property of Dutch merchants, right now it’s better known as New York.
Herengracht, Keizersgracht and the Prinsengracht are Amsterdam’s three main canals. The digging started in 1613. Along these canals the rich built theire stately houses.
After the French invasion of 1795, Napoleon Bonaparte founded the Kingdom of Holland in 1806. His brother Louis Bonaparte became King of Holland which was to be annex to France in 1810. In 1813 the nation’s population rebelled and Prince William was inaugurated as King Willem 1st of the Netherlands. The was the beginning of the monarchy.
The North Sea canal was dug in 1876 and connects the port of Amsterdam with the North Sea. This canal gave the Dutch economy a big boost. World War I and the Great Depression took their toll in the form of increasing poverty and food shortages. The Second World War brought misery, devastation and hunger to the local Jewish community during the occupation of the Nazis. Only 1 in every 16 of Amsterdam’s 90.000 Jews survived the Second World War.
During the 60’s, Holland’s capital became Europe’s magic center: hippies smoked cannabis on Dam Square and camped in Amsterdam’s Vondelpark. Some years later, in 1972, the first cannabis coffeeshop opened and in 1976 cannabis was decriminalized to free up police resources for combating hard drugs.
Learn more about the history of Amsterdam during one of our tours through the most fascinating area of Amsterdam