57 Amsterdam Facts: History, Canals, Tourism And More

Akinwalere Olaleye
Oct 24, 2023 By Akinwalere Olaleye
Originally Published on Jan 12, 2022
One of the many Amsterdam facts is that it has more bridges than Paris and Venice.

Amsterdam is the Dutch capital.

Amsterdam offers a wide range of experiences for the people who live there as well as for those who visit it. It is a place where you can witness different cultures existing together.

Amsterdam is famous for being home to many great personalities as well as having unique cityscape features. There is something for every individual in Amsterdam. Amsterdam attracts a large number of tourists every year and it is the city's canals, history, and culture that make it so popular.

Facts About Amsterdam

Amsterdam is a beautiful city with some exciting features that make the city unique. Here are some intriguing facts about Amsterdam.

  • Amsterdam has been the capital city of The Netherlands since 1983. Before this, it had been the unofficial capital of The Netherlands.
  • The city of Amsterdam is also the city with the largest population in The Netherlands.
  • This city is situated in the western part of The Netherlands and is part of the North Holland province.
  • The three crosses present on the flag and the coat of arms of Amsterdam represent St. Andrew, a fisherman in the first century who was tortured on an 'X' shaped cross.
  • The words below the motto or the three crosses mean valiant, steadfast, and compassionate.
  • This symbol had been adopted in 1505, while Amsterdam had still been a fishing town.
  • Amsterdam is built on millions of poles, to be exact, 11 million poles.
  • This is because of the sandy nature of the soil in Amsterdam, which requires some of the buildings to be built on wooden poles which are placed in this sandy soil.
  • Around 38 markets, including antique and flower markets, exist in Amsterdam.
  • The floating flower market has existed since 1862, where the stalls are located on boats.
  • This floating flower market has flourished over the years and has transformed into one of the most popular flower markets in The Netherlands.
  • An interesting fact about the lifestyle of the people who live in Amsterdam is that they prefer to ride bicycles over other modes of transportation.
  • The number of bicycles that are in Amsterdam is more than the number of people who live there!
  • Every year, there are about 10,000 bikes in Amsterdam that get stolen, and even more are thrown in the canals of the city.
  • The municipality of Amsterdam has a special boat that picks up some of these bikes from the canals.
  • The public transportation of Amsterdam is also very well developed and is often used by a large portion of the city's population.
  • Ajax is Amsterdam's biggest football club that has football youth education programs recognized as some of the most successful ones in the world.

Amsterdam's History

The history of Amsterdam is quite eventful right from the time the first settlers came to the region of present-day Amsterdam. Here are some facts about the city's long past.

  • Amsterdam's origin goes back to when fishers inhabiting the space along Amstel River's banks created a bridge over the waterway close to the side of IJ.
  • The wooden locks under this bridge acted like a dam as they protected the village behind the bridge from being flooded by the waters of IJ.
  • Amsterdam was previously called 'Amstelredam', which meant 'dam in the Amstel River'.
  • The communities living in this village were more focused on trade and production instead of farming like the other communities living further upstream did for the past few centuries.
  • In 1300-06, Amsterdam was recognized as a city.
  • Through trade and business with the Hanseatic League, Amsterdam developed well as a city.
  • Amsterdam became a significant pilgrimage spot in 1345 when a supposed Eucharistic miracle took place in Kalverstraat.
  • The city remained an important pilgrimage place until the Protestant faith was adopted.
  • During the 16th century, due to various reasons such as the 10th penny, religious persecution of Protestants and new taxes being imposed, the Dutch declared a rebellion against Philip II of Spain.
  • This rebellion evolved into the Eighty Years' War which finally resulted in the Dutch achieving independence.
  • Amsterdam was considered to be the wealthiest city in the whole western world in the 17th century as the country of The Netherlands was experiencing an era known as the Dutch Golden Age.
  • During this period, Amsterdam developed its trade and welcomed the wealth it brought. This wealth further led to the development of science and arts.
  • Amsterdam prospered greatly during the Dutch Golden Age. However, this prosperity of the city declined in the 18th century and early 19th century.
  • The decline was caused by the many wars between the Dutch Republic and the countries of France and England.
  • The lowest point was during the Napoleonic Wars when Holland had been absorbed as part of the French Empire.
  • In 1815, Amsterdam's decreasing affluence took a turning point as the United Kingdom of The Netherlands was established.
  • The end part of the 19th century is considered the Second Golden Age of Amsterdam as the Industrial Revolution began in the city. A railway station and new museums were also built.
  • While The Netherlands maintained a neutral stance during World War I, the city and the rest of the country suffered from a food shortage.
  • Similarly, in World War II, The Netherlands, especially the city of Amsterdam, suffered as just before the war, Nazi Germany carried out an invasion of The Netherlands and took control over the country.
  • After suffering and surviving poorly for a while as the war ended, Amsterdam began to build itself again.
The history of Amsterdam is quite eventful.

Amsterdam's Canals

Amsterdam's canals are known all over the world. These canals not only connect the different parts of the city but also add to the distinctive image of the city. Here are some interesting facts about Amsterdam's canals.

  • The initial canals were built to serve as protection and defense against an attacking force during the Middle Ages.
  • Later on, when they were found inside the walls of the expanding city, their purpose shifted from being protection to a medium of trade and commerce.
  • Amsterdam has more than 160 canals which are a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
  • The number of canals in Amsterdam is more than the number of canals present in Venice.
  • Interestingly, Amsterdam is called the 'Venice of the North'.
  • Prinsengracht, Keizersgracht, and Herengracht are considered to be the most important canals of Amsterdam and were built during the Dutch Golden Age.
  • The canal houses that exist along the canals in Amsterdam are narrow and quite tall. They create a pretty view as you travel through the city along the canals.
  • In addition to the canals, Amsterdam also has more bridges than Paris.
  • Amsterdam has more than 1,200 bridges, with many being within the canal ring of the city.
  • The most famous bridge of Amsterdam is the Magere Brug, also known as the Skinny Bridge.
  • As many as 15 bridges can be seen at the same time when you are positioned at the corner of the Herengracht and Reguliersgracht.

Amsterdam's Tourist Attractions

Every year, Amsterdam attracts thousands of tourists who visit the city to experience its rich culture and its historical past. If you are planning to visit the city soon, remember to add these places and things on your list.

  • Amsterdam is a city filled with museums dedicated to various subjects. It has the most museums per capita in the whole world.
  • The Stedelijk Museums, as well as the Van Gogh Museum, are some of Amsterdam's most popular tourist attractions.
  • In addition to the paintings of Van Gogh, visitors can also find Rembrandt paintings in these museums.
  • The Anne Frank House museum is also in Amsterdam.
  • The many canal cruises offer a fantastic tour of Amsterdam.
  • There are also a lot of boathouses in the waterways of Amsterdam.
  • There is a unique boat in Amsterdam called De Poezenboot (the cat boat), which is actually a shelter for cats.
  • Amsterdam also has something called the dancing houses, two buildings that look like they are dancing.
  • These are the seven narrow houses situated at canal Amstel 106.
  • The dancing houses are named this because they are sunken and lean at various angles.
  • Dam Square in Amsterdam is a popular spot with tourists as it is home to many tourist spots such as Madame Tussauds Wax Museum, National Memorial Statue, and New Church.

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Written by Akinwalere Olaleye

Bachelor of Arts specializing in English Literature

Akinwalere Olaleye picture

Akinwalere OlaleyeBachelor of Arts specializing in English Literature

As a highly motivated, detail-oriented, and energetic individual, Olaleye's expertise lies in administrative and management operations. With extensive knowledge as an Editor and Communications Analyst, Olaleye excels in editing, writing, and media relations. Her commitment to upholding professional ethics and driving organizational growth sets her apart. She has a bachelor's degree in English Literature from the University of Benin, Edo State. 

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