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
Van Gogh Museum
The museum dedicated to the life of the Dutch painter
contains more of his work than any other collection.