In the European continent sits this quaint city of Amsterdam that welcomes travelers with its umpteen canals, cobbled streets, narrow, gabled houses and charming trams. Amsterdam is the capital of Netherlands and does the country proud with its rich heritage, famous artists, and eco-friendly transportations. Another attraction of the city is some facts about it that are at once amusing and interesting. All the facts revolve around figures. Be prepared to be entertained and surprised after reading the list.
Facts About Amsterdam
- Amsterdam has a whopping total of 165 canals. The canal system in the city occupies more than 60 miles.
- Amsterdam has approximately 11,000,000 number of wooden poles in its buildings. Even a house has typically about ten poles supporting it. Makes you think that pole dancing can be a handy pastime in Amsterdam!
- Amsterdam’s coat of arms has 3 letters of X on them. The XXX is speculated as either a representation of the crosses of St. Andrew who was a fisherman martyred on a cross or three kisses that the Dutch greet people with.
- About 25,000 bicycles end up in Amsterdam’s canals every year! But oddly, the figure of bicycles pulled out annually is 8000.
- The airport of Amsterdam, Schiphol, is built 4 meters below sea level.
- 1515 is the number of cafes and bars present in Amsterdam at the last count. One thing you can be absolutely sure of, you will never be far from a drink in Amsterdam!
- Amsterdam has 1281 bridges and 80 of them are within the center of the city.
- There are about 2500 houseboats in Amsterdam. This figure does not come as a surprise given the vast number of canals. But what is a surprise is that there is one houseboat called De Poezenboot, exclusively meant for cats!
- Amsterdam owns around 881,000 bicycles for a population of about 799,400! The discrepancy is attributed to theft.
- The number of tourists visiting Amsterdam every year is estimated at 20,000,000. This figure is actually 20 times the locals!
Traveling to the capital city of Netherlands, Amsterdam, can be a fun and rich experience for the entire family. There are sights to attract any crowd; adults, children, art patrons and theatre buffs. Popular also as the ‘Venice of the North’ for its many canals, Amsterdam can be explored on foot or boat and even on bikes. In fact, cycling is characteristic of the city and it has plenty of bike paths laid out all over for the activity.
Points of Interest
1. Koninklijk Paleis Amsterdam
Situated on the western side of the center of the city, this is one among the three royal palaces in the Netherlands. Originally built as a town hall of the city, it was converted into a palace for Louis, Napoleon’s brother when he was crowned king of Holland. The exterior of the palace is built of sandstone, just like the public buildings of Rome. The interior though sports the Empire style of 1800. Open to the public, the palace is also used for royal events by the Dutch Royal House.
Also known as National Maritime Museum, Scheepvaartmuseum was formerly used as a naval storehouse. The rich sea trade of Amsterdam in the 1600s is depicted by the many exhibits of maps and weapons in this multi-story museum. Outside the museum is anchored a replica of an 18th-century ship which set sail between the East Indies and the Netherlands.
On the south bank of the Singel canal, between Koningsplein and Muntplein, is the world’s single floating flower market, Bloemenmarkt. The famous blooms of the Netherlands like tulips, narcissus, daffodil and many others, light up the floating barges and stands with a riot of colors. Visitors carry back home the memory of this visual and fragrant treat.
Located in the Old South district of Amsterdam is the Vondelpark. It is named Joost van den Vondel, the famous Dutch playwright, and poet, whose statue is erected in the park. The park is a lovely place to relax on its lawn of green grass or bike along the pathways amidst the shady green trees.
5. Anne Frank House
Set along the Prinsengratch canal is the famous Anne Frank Huis. It is a popular tourist spot attracting many visitors. It is the very place where Anne Frank wrote her diary during World War II when she along with her family and four Jews hid. It was renovated in 1955 and opened as a museum in 1960. The room where Anne lived and the exhibits here seem to tell the story of their horrifying experience.
6. Van Gogh Museum
Located in Museum Square in the north-west side, the Van Gogh Museum is an art patron’s delight. The four-story building designed by Gerrit Rietvald has the world’s largest collection of this great artist’s paintings and letters. The artwork is arranged chronologically in the first three floors, which enable visitors to understand the artist’s evolving style. The top floor has exhibits by Van Gogh’s contemporaries like Gaugin, Millet, and Daubigny.
Beguines Courtyard or the district of Begijnhof, is the center circle of land in the circular canal system of Amsterdam. Used as the residence of the sisterhood of Catholic Beguines in the 14th century, this area was in an enclosure. It has the Begijnhof Kapel which is an enchanting structure built with stained glass windows and marble columns. A wooden house which is the oldest preserved one of the city is also present here.
Rijksmuseum is the pride of the Netherlands and is located on the northeast side of the Museum Square in Amsterdam. The collection of artifacts here total over a million! It houses collections right from the 13th century and from all over the country. The construction of the museum was started by the architect Pierre Cuypers when he won a design contest. The museum has paintings of renowned painters like Rembrandt and Johannes Vemeer. But inarguably, ‘Night Watch’, the masterpiece by Rembrandt is the show stealer here.
Schuttersgalerij or Civic Guards Gallery gives a sneak peek into the Dutch Golden Era. The museum is naturally lit as the exhibits are in the open air with a glass roof as protection. This aspect makes it one of a kind in the world. The portraits on display are of Amsterdam Civic Guards from the 17th century. The paintings depict the culture and way of life of the Dutch centuries ago. What’s more, entry to the museum is free!
10. Canals of Amsterdam
The reason behind the massive canal system of Amsterdam was to have a control over the flow of the Amstel River. This also cleared many acres of dried land for the city. As the canals flowed through the city, a boat ride offered lovely vistas of not just the banks but the cityscape as well. Dutch merchants decided that they could cash on this aspect to show off their massive mansions. A visitor opting for a boat ride on one of the 100 canals of Amsterdam is treated to sights of Elm and Lime trees lined up alongside the river, the impressive Dutch buildings on the banks, the breezy experience of sailing under thousands of bridges and a trip to a few of the 2000 houseboats and houseboat hotels. Do not pass up a chance for a romantic candlelight cruise on one of these houseboats!
A bibliophile and travel buff, I love reading as much as writing. Take a special interest in keying travel blogs and children's stories. Maybe that accounts for why every trip is taken with a childlike enthusiasm!
Article by Kanchana Rao
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