Amsterdam the capital of the Netherlands, lies on the banks of two bodies of water, the IJ bay and the Amstel river. Amsterdam was founded in the late 12th century as a small fishing village on the banks of the Amstel, it is now the largest city in the country and its financial and cultural centre. As of 2005, the population of Amsterdam proper is 742,951; the population of the greater Amsterdam area is approximately 1.5 million.
Amsterdam has one of the largest historic city centres in Europe, dating largely from the 17th century, the Golden Age of the Netherlands, of which it was the focal point. At this time, a series of concentric, semi-circular canals were built around the older Amsterdam city centre, which still defines its layout and appearance today. Many fine houses and mansion
s are situated along the canals; most are lived in, others are now offices, and some are public buildings. Some of the narrow brick houses are gradually sinking because they are built on wooden piles to cope with the marshy subsoil.
Amsterdam is noted for many outstanding museums, including the Rijksmuseum, the Van Gogh Museum, the Stedelijk Museum, Rembrandt House Museum, the Anne Frank House, and its world-class symphony orchestra, the Concertgebouworkest, whose home base is the Concertgebouw. Notable are also its red-light district, de Wallen, and its numerous "coffee shops" selling cannabis.
Although Amsterdam is the capital of the Netherlands, it is neither the capital of the province in which it is located, North Holland (which is Haarlem), nor the seat of government of the Netherlands (which is The Hague).
Amsterdam was founded as a fishing village in the 13th century. According to legend Amsterdam was founded by two Frisian fishermen, who landed on the shores of the Amstel in a small boat with their dog. The damming of the river Amstel gave it its name (in Dutch: Amstelredam "Dam in the Amstel", turned into Amsterdam in the course of time). It was given city rights in 1300 or 1301. From the 14th century on, Amsterdam flourished, largely on the basis of trade with the cities of the Hanseatic League.
The 16th century brought a rebellion by the Dutch against Philip II of Spain and his successors, escalating into the Eighty Years' War which ultimately led to Dutch independence. The Dutch Republic became known for its relative religious tolerance and Jews from Spain and Portugal, prosperous merchants from Antwerp (economic and religious refugees from the part of the Low Countries still controlled by Spain), Huguenots from France (persecuted for their religion) sought safety in Amsterdam. It was the rich, refined migrants from Flanders who set the tone (their Brabant dialects became the basis of standard written Dutch) and made Holland a mercantile power.
The 17th century is considered Amsterdam's "Golden Age". In the early 17th century Amsterdam was the richest city in Europe. Ships sailed from Amsterdam to North America, Africa and present-day Indonesia and Brazil and formed the basis of a worldwide trading network. Amsterdam's merchants had the biggest share in the VOC and WIC. These companies acquired the overseas possessions which formed the seeds of the later Dutch colonies. Amsterdam was the most important point for the trans-shipment of goods in Europe and it was the leading financial centre of the world. Amsterdam's stock exchange was the first to trade continuously.
The population grew from slightly over 10,000 around 1500 to 30,000 around 1570, 60,000 around 1600, 105,000 in 1622 and almost 200,000 around 1700 (a twenty fold increase in 200 years). Thereafter, the population did not change much for another century and a half. During the century before World War II it almost quadrupled to 800,000, but then remained fairly constant again to this day.
The 18th and early 19th centuries saw a decline in Amsterdam's prosperity. The wars of the Dutch Republic with the United Kingdom and France took their toll on Amsterdam. During the Napoleonic Wars Amsterdam's fortunes reached their lowest point. However, with the establishment of the Kingdom of the Netherlands in 1815, things slowly began to improve. In Amsterdam new developments were started by people like Sarphati who found their inspiration in Paris.
The end of the 19th century is sometimes called Amsterdam's second Golden Age. New museums, a train station, and the Concertgebouw were built. At this time the Industrial Revolution reached Amsterdam. The Amsterdam-Rhine Canal was dug to give Amsterdam a direct connection to the Rhine and the North Sea Canal to give the port a shorter connection to the North Sea. Both projects improved communication with the rest of Europe and the world dramatically. Joseph Conrad gives a brief description of Amsterdam, seen from the sea at this period, in The Mirror of the Sea (1906).
Amsterdam enjoys a moderate temperate climate, with the weather patterns being strongly influenced by Amsterdam's proximity to the Atlantic Ocean to the west and the prevailing westerly winds. Winters are mild and average above freezing, although frosts are not uncommon during periods of easterly or northeasterly winds that blow from the interior of the continent. Summers are comfortably warm but seldom hot. However, although days with measureable precipitation are common, Amsterdam does not have an overly wet climate and averages less than 760 mm (30 inches) of precipitation annually. The amount of precipitation seems heavier than it actually is, as much of it falls as protracted drizzle or light rain. Cloudy and damp days are common, particularly in the cooler months.
Amsterdam Schiphol Airport, is about 10 minutes by train from Amsterdam Central Station, and is the biggest airport in the Netherlands, and the fourth largest in Europe. It handles about 42 million passengers a year and is home base to KLM.
Amsterdam is the home town of Ajax, a team in the Dutch Football League. Its home base is the modern stadium Amsterdam ArenA, located in the south-east of the city. The team shares that facility with the Amsterdam Admirals, an American football team.
In 1928, Amsterdam hosted the Games of the IXth Olympiad. The Olympic Stadium built for the occasion has been completely restored and is now used for cultural and sporting events.
Amsterdam also is home to a famous ice rink, the Jaap Eden baan. The Amstel Tijgers play in this arena in the Dutch ice hockey premier league. In speed skating many international championships have been fought in the 400-meter lane of this ice rink.
The city also has a baseball team, the Amsterdam Pirates who play in the Dutch Major League. Three field hockey teams, Amsterdam, Pinoke and Hurley, and a basketball team, the Amsterdam Astronauts who play in the Dutch premier division and play their games in the Sporthallen Zuid, near the Olympic Stadium.
Famous People Born in Amsterdam :
Karel Appel - painter
Dennis Bergkamp - football player
George Hendrik Breitner - painter
Simon Carmiggelt - writer and columnist
Johan Cruijff - football player
Candy Dulfer - saxophonist
Max Euwe - chess player
Anne Frank - Holocaust diarist
Theo van Gogh - (murdered) filmmaker and colummnist
Ruud Gullit - football player
Patrick Kluivert - football player
Xaviera Hollander - Former NY "Madam" and Penthouse columnist
Klaas Bruinsma infamous drug-lord nicknamed "the preacher"
Andre Hazes - singer
Freddy Heineken - beer magnate
Meindert Hobbema - painter
Jozef IsraiĞls - painter
Wim Kok - former prime minister
Wouter Bos - leader of the Dutch parliamentary opposition
Frits Bolkestein - Dutch politician and former EU commissioner
Karel Miljon - boxer
Harry Mulisch - writer
Multatuli - writer
Rembrandt - painter
Gerard Reve - writer
Frank Rijkaard - football player
Baruch Spinoza - philosopher
Paul Verhoeven - film director This article is licensed under the [GNU Free Documentation License]. It uses material from Wikipedia