… IT'S THE PEOPLE WHO SHAPE THIS CITY

How old is this town? Amsterdam DNA

Some visitors of Amsterdam’s city centre seem to think they’re walking around in an open air museum. Oblivious to the fact there are cars and scooters and quite a few bikes on the street, they’ll walk on all roads available – something they probably wouldn’t think of doing in New York City! It’s actually not that weird a thought, though…

The Dam = the very beginning
The oldest house in the city dates from 1485. You’ll find it on Warmoesstraat 90, in the Red
Light District. Mind you, its gable is from the 19th century.

The very first Amsterdammers go back way longer, to the year 1000. They settled where the river Amstel met the sea, built a dam across the river and… a village emerged: Amstelredamme. The dam, now appropriately named Dam, is the very beginning of Amsterdam. And it’s still the central square.

Built on piles – for real?
The tapes you listen to on the canal boats pretty much always mention Amsterdam as Venice of the North, based on the fact it’s build in the water. And it is true: Amsterdam rests on millions of piles. The old ones wooden, the modern ones concrete. Apparently, without them, the city would sink into marshy peat…

Here’s a trailer the Amsterdam Museum made for their exhibition about Amsterdam’s DNA. It pretty much summarizes Amsterdam’s history in one minute.


Amsterdam DNA, Amsterdam Museum

“…a 1,000 year old city of waterways where spirit of enterprise, creativity, civic values and freedom are what count. Amsterdam DNA shows and tells the story based on these core values: burghers caring for the less fortunate, ships sailing to Asia and America, freedom of conscience, art in abundance. And yet also oppression, slavery and war” (Amsterdam Museum).


CC Map: Public Domain (via Amsterdam Museum). Text © Amsterdam Culture/Sheila Schenkel


How old is this town? Amsterdam DNA

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