Amsterdam is one of Europe’s oldest cities. It been around prior to the 1300s and is currently referred to in some travel guides as the “Venice of the North. Amsterdam has many amenities for you travel aficionados out there. It has some of the best attractions in Europe from its authentic variety of Dutch and Indonesian foods to its various museums which we will explore later. Furthermore, Amsterdam has amenities for all age groups despite its reputation for the various vices and pleasures that it offers.
Luckily, I was able to travel to Amsterdam in November of 2019 as a birthday present to myself. Personally, I did not know what to expect when I went there, I had read very little on it and chose to go based on the recommendation of my friends, some of which had been several times. I learned so much by simply going which is part of the reason that I am writing this. So, lets dive in, shall we.
1. The Amsterdam Stock Exchange
If you know anything about Amsterdam, you know that in the golden age of European Commerce, Amsterdam was one of the most vital centers for this. The Dutch colonial empire was something slightly smaller than the English or Spanish had but the Dutch where masters of Finance. Case and point, the Dutch East India Trading Company operated out of Amsterdam. With that being said, Amsterdam became a large center of business throughout mainland Europe.
The Amsterdam Stock Exchange was established in 1602 by the Dutch East India Company. It was subsequently renamed the Amsterdam Bourse and was the first to formally begin trading in securities. It was considered by many to be ahead of its time as it formed a new way of doing business. In 1602, the States General of the Netherlands granted the Amsterdam Stock Exchange a 21-year charter over all Dutch trade in Asia and quasi-governmental powers. The Dutch had colonies in various areas of Asia and the Stock Exchange took pride in that. The Dutch where very convinced that their success as a European Power would be colonial investments. These investments involved forming partnerships with other European nations, including the Spanish and English. With the charter, the Stock Exchange was at one point the most powerful business in the Netherlands as they had control over political affairs across the Asian subcontinent. At their peak, the stock exchange was worth well over € 300 Million in today’s money. Since the end of colonialism, the Stock Exchange continues to operate but has allied itself with the Brussels Stock Exchange and the Paris Stock Exchange to form Euronext. After 419 years in business, the exchange continues to grow stronger and it third in the world in terms of size behind the United States and the UK stock exchange.
2: Dutch Museums
When thinking of the Dutch, most tourists do not automatically register the importance of artist that came out of the Netherlands. What makes Dutch culture so special is that Art has its special place in its history. To bring you back to Art History in your university studies, names like Vermeer, Van Gogh, and Rembrandt all have their significant place in art as we know it and understand it today.
Various museums around Amsterdam present these artists and others from around the Netherlands as though they are still alive. Museums like The Rijksmuseum and the Van Gogh Museum bring you into a trance and leave you wanting more art. I do not think that anyone going to Amsterdam to see art. However, the art is one of the many attractions to the city. Art can be found all over the city from the various markets too. If you have two eyes and you like art, go to Amsterdam when you can.
Aside from art, there are various museums for other interest. The Original Heineken Brewery is located in Amsterdam. Amsterdam even has a Torture Museum. How crazy is that. Amsterdam has something for everyone’s interest, all you have to do is look around. Another museum to look around is the Amsterdam Museum which has collections of items from the town’s beginnings well before the Middle Ages.
Lastly, a perfect spot to learn about the Dutch's past is the Anne Frank House. The Anne Frank House has played historical significance in history due to its relevance during history's greatest tragedy. Unfortunately, should you know the story of Anne Frank you know the tragedy that occurred following residing in the house for several years hiding from the Nazi occupiers.
3. Indonesian Food
If you enjoy history then you would probably be able to figure this section out. The Dutch colonized their own sections of the world in the Americas, Asia and Africa. A big part of what they colonized though has since become a part of their culture. One of their most important colonies was the East Indies. Part of the East Indies was colonized by the English but another part was colonized by the Dutch. Since the end of colonization many cultural elements have become a part of Dutch Culture. One particularly important one is food.
Amsterdam, being the capital of the Netherlands, absorbed most of this cultural influx. Across Amsterdam’s many streets Indonesian restaurants can be found all over the place. As a lover of Asian food due to its spices and herbs, Indonesian food is an adventure to say the least. Be warned, Indonesian food is not for the faint of heart. It takes courage to try some of it dishes as they can be intense on your palette. Indonesian food though has extensive amounts of vegetables. Don’t expect to go back for seconds though cause usually one plate is enough. Luckily Amsterdam has plenty of space to walk so you will be walking aimlessly after a meal. Just a couple to try in case you are in the mood currently are Sampurna and Mama Makan.
4. “Venice of the North
Amsterdam is the perfect city for anyone that loves being on the water. It has the alure of a night cruise in Paris and the during the day it can help you reminisce about that time you visited Venice. Nevertheless, Amsterdam has some of the best river cruising in Europe. Even in the winter time, when it seems like it would not be beneficial at all, Amsterdam is the perfect spot to take some time on the water. The city’s name derives from the fact that it is a dam on the Amstel River.
On your cruise you can see the lovely architecture that extenuates Amsterdam’s various streets. Also, you see its many engineering feats such as draw bridges. Amsterdam is literally a re-incarnation of Venice, only better. Amsterdam, like many cities in Europe was built on water which makes it just a tad bit cooler to explore. The River itself has held many important historical celebrations on the river. For instance, Liberation Day is an annual celebration that reminisces on the liberation of the Netherlands by American and British troops during World War II. The beauty about Amsterdam is that it is always adding on to itself. Amsterdam is an ever expanding canal and seems to keep growing daily.
5. Sports Hub
When it comes to Amsterdam, another one of its hidden nuggets is its various sports franchises. In 1928, Amsterdam hosted the Summer Olympic Games. The Olympic Stadium was built to host the games and is still used today. Amsterdam has sports for every fan. Ajax FC is popular because of its relevance in European Football, there are two American Football Franchises, a baseball team, three field hockey teams and more.
There is something for every sports fan to do in Amsterdam. The beauty of the city is that they are excited by sports outside of their country as well. Amsterdam has one of the largest viewings of the Super Bowl in the world every year for example. The Dutch are known for being Football fanatics and Amsterdam is one of the greatest cities to watch a professional football match. Furthermore, when they are in season, the baseball team, the Amsterdam Pirates are also a great item to adore on a sunny cool afternoon. Needless to say, Amsterdam is filled with every sports fans dream.
Amsterdam has more to offer than just the items that mentioned here. Unfortunately, with COVID-19 happening their will not be any traveling anytime soon. Luckily, some of us where able to see Amsterdam in its glory prior to this pandemic. In the event that this article has inspired you to plan a trip soon great, if not be on the lookout for more articles about cities that you truly would like to visit. Until next time, Genieten.
Ali Sami Farooq from London on February 22, 2021:
Really it is great city of the europe, i visited 3 places as show in this article. I'm in love with this city.
Ali Sami Farooq
Ellis Distefano on February 21, 2021:
I was able to visit the Stock Exchange and do just about everything in a period of 3 days there.
Liz Westwood from UK on February 20, 2021:
Amsterdam is a favorite city of mine. You have done well to condense it into one article. I ended up writing several after we visited. Did you visit the stock exchange? I read that Amsterdam has a very high concentration of museums. A friend of mine camped at the Ajax football ground in the summer many years ago.