Amsterdam is the capital of the Netherlands. With more than one million inhabitants in its urban area, it is the country's largest city and its financial, cultural, and creative center. Amsterdam is colloquially known as Venice of the North, because of its lovely canals that criss-cross the city, its impressive architecture and more than 1,500 bridges. There is something for every traveler's taste here, whether you prefer culture and history, serious partying, or just the relaxing charm of an old European city.
Settled as a small fishing village in the late 12th century, Amsterdam became one of the most important trading centers in the world during the Dutch Golden Age of the 17th century. The city's small medieval center rapidly expanded as the Jordaan and the Canal District were constructed; the latter's cultural significance was acknowledged when it became a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 2010. In the 19th and 20th centuries, the city expanded in all directions, with many new neighborhoods and suburbs designed in modernist styles.
Amsterdam is not the seat of the government, which is in The Hague. Partly because of this, the city has an informal atmosphere unlike other capital cities its size. In fact, Amsterdam has a history of non-conformism, tolerance and progressivism, all of which come together in its liberal policies concerning cannabis and prostitution. Attractions include the Rijksmuseum, Van Gogh Museum, Anne Frank House, Magere Brug, Albert Cuyp Market and the Vondelpark. Read more