Amsterdam is the capital and most populous city of the Netherlands. Its status as the Dutch capital is mandated by the Constitution of the Netherlands, although Amsterdam is not the seat of the Dutch government which is The Hague.
In the 12th century Amsterdam was no more than a modest settlement at the mouth of the river Amstel, with open connection to the sea. In those days fishermen and craftsmen built a dam in the Amstel (now the site of the National Monument) and Amstel-re-damme was born.
Amsterdam was granted a municipal charter in 1275 and has since expanded continually.
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 center for finance and diamonds.
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 UNESCO World Heritage Site includes Amsterdam’s three main canals: the Herengracht or Patricians’ Canal, the Keizersgracht or Emperor’s Canal, and the Prinsengracht or Prince’s Canal. The three waterways run parallel to each other in a crescent shape, giving the city centre its characteristic semi-circular shape when viewed from the air.
In the 17th and 18th century Amsterdamers were the most prosperous Europeans. The most powerful merchants had their abundantly ornamented mansions built here, thus manifesting their wealth.
Amsterdam is a city to be explored on foot and this is my list of things you must see: the canals, the Jordaan area, with its many pubs, outdoor cafés and quaint shops; Vondelpark with its open air concerts; Leidseplein; Rembrandtsplein; the antique shops in the Spiegel district; Museum Square with the renovated Rijksmuseum, Stedelijk Museum (Museum of Modern Art), Van Gogh Museum and the Anne Frank House.
Other typical features of Amsterdam are its numerous 'hofjes' (almshouses), the floating flower market, and the hundreds of houseboats lining the canals.
Amsterdam is inextricably related to the diamond-cutting industry, which has brought much fame to the city since the 17th century.
A canal tour of Ámsterdam is a nice way to enjoy the city and the historical canal district.
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