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Amsterdam is a city like Venice: founded on and still focussed today around water and waterways. However, unlike Venice, Holland's largest city is no mere museum piece. Amsterdam is a real, living and breathing metropolis; far more than just an oasis for tourists. The Dutch capital has clearly come a long way since it was founded, as legend has it, by two fishermen and a seasick dog. The story goes that the dog jumped ship to deposit the contents of his stomach, and the two fishermen became the founders of Amsterdam. The reality might have been slightly more prosaic, with the River Amstel being dammed in the 13th century and spawning the settlement of Aemstelledamme.
The lifeblood of Amsterdam has long been its aquatic locale, close as it is to the North Sea and built on myriad canals, which neatly divide the city into easily navigable districts and imbue it with a small town ambience. There seems to be a canal around every corner in Amsterdam - not too surprising, considering that the city is home to a staggering 165 of them. The best way to see the city's fantastic architecture is by boat from the canals - canal tours are available beginning at the Central Station or from outside the Rijksmuseum. Alternatively, you can board the Canal Bus, which stops close to as many as 20 of the city's main tourist attractions and shopping areas. A day ticket for the Canal Bus allows you to hop on and hop off as often as you like.
More about Amsterdam
Holland's largest museum boasts as many as a million objects, the most famous of which is Rembrandt's 'Night Watch'.
Anne Frank's House
The place where Anne Frank and her family spent two years hiding is now a poignant museum.
The Dutch have a long history of involvement in the diamond industry, and at Gassan Diamonds you can see rough diamonds being cut and polished, transforming them into dazzling jewels.
Amsterdam's secret garden offers a sanctuary away from the hustle and bustle of the city.
Open to the public only when it is not being used by the Dutch Royal Family, the Royal Palace on Dam Square is certainly worth visiting.
Van Gogh Museum
The museum dedicated to the life of the Dutch painter contains more of his work than any other collection.